If you’ve been a part of our community for a little while, chances are you know I’m a Regional Sales Manager for Turkey Hill Dairy. I’m responsible for sales for the Southeast (NC down to Florida) and own the relationships with the grocery accounts in this geography that carry our products. I have been with Turkey Hill for almost four years now and received my second promotion here this past January.
I love what I do and I tend to be pretty exacting of myself, but both times I got promoted I was a still little baffled (wait…they want me? They think I’m capable of taking on that?). Imposter syndrome is real you guys. So when my brother suggested I write a post about how I navigate career promotions I was like, ‘wait…what do I actually know about that?’ But he got me thinking and I realized there are several things I’ve done that got me to where I am and keep me on this trajectory.
When I started my first job with Daymon Worldwide at Safeway in California I was terrified. What did a college Latin major know about selling groceries? I learned a lot those first 15 months in my little management training role. But with that growth initially came a certain pride and overstated confidence. Once I had my first promotion and sales were conistently ahead of budget, I felt on top of the world. As silly as it sounds thinking about it now, I had a know-it-all attitude, and without realizing it, largely stopped taking constructive feedback. That’s when things went south. I didn’t have a great boss, but I also didn’t handle that situation very well. I remember complaining about him to every member of our team that would listen.
Three years after I started, Safeway ended their relationshop with Daymon. The account closed down but I was the first person they laid off. While it was termed a lay off, it felt like a grey area between layoff and termination. Either way, it was definitely NOT my best moment and I remember realizing how the my attitude and behaviors had led up to it. And I made some drastic changes.
Fortunately, while at Daymon I had built strong relationships with the manufacturers I worked with and about a month later I was offered a job with one of them, Mariani. After a year and a half with Mariani, I moved on to Altria and three years later to Turkey Hill.
Although the criteria around promotions varied by organization, I got promoted at each company. As I was preparing to write this post, I realized it all comes down to specific behaviors I’ve adopted at work. These behaviors are what enabled me to successfully navigate promotions, regardless of the organization I was in or even the criteria for getting promoted.
- Do what you love. I know this sounds obvious, but if you’re in a role where you count the hours, how are you going to find motivation to excel? Take the time to find out what you love. When the right fit is there, the promotion will come much more easily.
- There’s no replacement for consistent hard work over time. There just isn’t. If you keep showing up every day and do your absolute best work (and don’t cut corners- even when no one sees) you are 90% of the way there already.
- Stay humble. That was the biggest lesson I learned at Daymon. When you stay humble, it’s easy to stay in a mode where you are continuously learning, which is critical to success.
- Own your development. Nobody is going to care about your career as much as you do. It’s on YOU to know the areas you need to grow in and seek out developmental opportunities.
- Write out your short and long term career goals and share them with your direct manager. When I started with Turkey Hill, I created a list of career goals and a development plan and shared it with my boss. I outlined the specifics of where I wanted to be in the next 1-2 years and then in the next 5-10. I also outlined specific areas of development I felt I needed, in order to be ready. This exercise is especially important if you are in a new role or have a new boss because it helps you get on the same page with him or her.
- Build authentic relationships. Something that’ helped me is the way I approach relationships. It’s easy to think of networking or relationships in business as a ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’, but if you focus instead on forming genuine connections you’ll be surprised how it comes back to you in the end.
- Get your management to advocate for you. I like to be understated and let my results speak for themselves, but a few years ago I discovered the importance of having your management advocate for you too. One way I do this is communicating my wins to my boss instead of just assuming he knows or will find them out.
- Know how you want to be perceived. When I am meeting with our senior management, at a trade show, or even just working with my boss I try to keep in mind how I would perceive me if I were the other person. Projecting confidence, appearing polished and being able to speak with knowledge about your role always makes a difference.
- A winning attitude is everything. Don’t underestimate positivity and a can-do attitude. When I went back to work after having Juliana, my career felt a bit bleak. My role with Altria at that point felt like nothing more than a job. I wasn’t happy with where I was, so I went to hear a talk by Jon Gordon the Network of Executive Women in Charlotte hosted. Jon had just written a book called The Energy Bus about the power of positive leadership. I read it, took his advice and changed my mindset towards positivity. Changing my attitude changed everything and almost immediately I was able to get myself on track for the promotion I wanted.
- Don’t wait for management to set goals for you. In most roles I’ve been in, I’ve had number responsibilities assigned to me. But I always set my own goals on top. Coming up with additional goals gives me stronger ownership of my business and helps me create the strategies and tactics needed to achieve them.
- Stay away from the office gossip. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people’s careers sidetracked because of something they said about someone. I fell into this trap talking about my boss at Daymon and learned the hard way. If you only speak positively about others, you can worry a lot less about what others are saying about you too.
And there you have it. Let me know if there’s anything you would add to this list. I feel in each of our heads there’s already a roadmap to success. It’s all about getting out of our own way, cutting out the self sabotage and really going for it.
Love ya’ll…thanks for reading!
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