HomeAsian AmericansBreaking Bamboo: How to get that next promotion

Breaking Bamboo: How to get that next promotion

Photo via Unsplash by LYCS Architecture

By Dave Liu

Every other Monday, entrepreneur Dave Liu answers reader’s questions about their careers. You can submit your questions to info at asamnews.com. Dave will not use your name to assure anonymity.

Just joined an exciting new company in a mid-level position. What is the best way to position myself for a promotion?

Obviously, there are many ways to get a promotion, but my single best tip is to do the job you are seeking. Show your bosses that you can do more than in your current position because they may not think you can. Now, no one is expecting you to do everything the role entails but pick some of the key tasks that you think are critical and do a great job. This is key because oftentimes I’ve seen people bite off more than they can chew. They try to do their boss’ job and not only fail at that, but also neglect their regular job. So be honest about when you are ready and then slowly punch above your weight class. Once you’ve mastered your existing job, and have successfully demonstrated your potential to do the job above you, ask for the promotion.

During this pandemic, what suggestions would you have for maintaining relationships with both co-workers and bosses?

Even though the idle chit chat around the proverbial water cooler is now gone, I find that it’s still easy to maintain communication and dialogue via technology. Video, chat, email all allow us to be on 24×7 if we choose. But the key is the quality, not quantity of those interactions. So find a reason to chat that is interesting or rewarding for the other party. Great topics with your boss include areas of potential growth, improvements to make his or her job easier, or ways to advance stalled projects. The list can be endless, and can certainly be non-work related, but context and setting is key. For example, it can even be about the latest Netflix bingeable show or latest sports game. I’ve certainly participated in virtual happy hours or movie nights where we chat or discuss something fun but be mindful that you might be taking co-workers away from family time. Finally, you can use video conferencing but I’ve found that many of us are Zoomed out and so make sure you have a really good reason before you suggest that.

I’m not good at bragging about myself? How do I make sure everyone knows what I’ve accomplished at a company without sounding boastful.

You should make sure that the work you have created, whether that be a memo, video, document, or picture, clearly shows your involvement either through direct credit or stated authorship. No one will fault you if it’s work that you truly created or contributed towards. So let your work literally speak for you. 

Another tactic is to publicly praise others who helped in the creation of your work either through advice or active involvement. By doing so, I have found people inherently like to reciprocate so they may become your spokesperson and make sure others know your involvement as well. 

In general, make sure you are always “in the room” whenever your work is being discussed and be sure to add color commentary to ensure that others know your involvement. At the end of the day, you are your best advocate so you will need to be more vocal about your contribution. You can leave the bravado and bragging at home but be sure to state the facts.

About the Author: Dave is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur.  Prior to founding several companies in entertainment, investments, and technology, he worked on Wall Street for almost 25 years. He started his career by joining a fledgling investment bank, Jefferies when it had less than 200 employees.  Today, Jefferies is a multi-billion dollar diversified public company (NYSE:JEF).  It was there that he rose from the entry level position of Analyst to Group Head of Internet and Digital Media and was one of the youngest Managing Directors in firm history.  As one of the only managing directors of color in the firm, he successfully broke through the bamboo ceiling by not only working hard but also understanding how to play the corporate game.  He has had hundreds of bankers work for him during his career and served as a mentor to many who have gone on to some of the best business schools and companies in America.  He is eager to share his knowledge with Asian Americans seeking to realize their full potential and achieve their career goals.

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