CONTINUING EDUCATION, 1 CE Credit – $9.99, 1 Hour, General Knowledge, Level 1, Release date: October 2007, Expiration date: October 31, 2012

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Moving On Up!

In today’s hyper-competitive world, 
being overlooked for a promotion can 
be a discouraging and sometimes even 
an embarrassing event.

While there are no guarantees, remember what our thirty-fourth president, Dwight David Eisenhower, once said, “Having a plan will not ensure your success, but without a plan you’re sure to fail.” With that in mind, here is a systematic plan that will get you noticed, considered, and eventually promoted.

1. Communicate Your Aspirations. I have heard the complaint many times. Someone hoping for a promotion fails to get the job. Then and only then he sets up a meeting with the boss to ask why. After a few minutes of awkward conversation, the truth is revealed: “Quite frankly, I had no idea you were interested in the position.” Too often at work, we try to accomplish things by telepathy – mind reading. We figure if we just work hard and do a good job, the boss will notice and therefore reward us with the position and salary we seek and deserve. Maybe; but more often, maybe not. Step one in your Promotion Plan is to seek out the ultimate decision maker – that man or woman who can actually make it happen – and clearly communicate your goal. This doesn’t need to be a confrontational meeting, just a matter-of-fact statement. Catch the decision maker on a good day, and ask if you can have a word. The conversation might go something like this: “I really love working at this practice. In fact, it is my goal to one day be your practice manager.” Making that known is the first step to having all your efforts to that end noticed.

2. Acquire New Knowledge. One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to seeking advancement is to assume that their intelligence or work ethic alone will get them promoted. Sometimes it actually does, but even then, the newly promoted manager finds herself in a position for which she is ill equipped. In fact, that is one of the real paradoxes in corporate America. We tend to be promoted because of our technical abilities, which in the end has little to do with our success at the next level. Avoid that pitfall by attending classes, participating in seminars, and reading books. Turn your car into a classroom by listening to audio presentations to and from work. Be sure to occasionally mention what you are learning to the decision maker, perhaps asking her opinion on something you have learned. This demonstrates your seriousness of purpose with regard to acquiring new knowledge and subtly reminds the decision maker of your ultimate goal.

3. Create and Memorize Your 60-Second “Elevator” Speech. I realize most of you do not have elevators at your practice – it is only a metaphor. Inevitably, one day you and your decision maker will find yourselves alone in the break room. When he says to you, “How’s everything going?” be ready! Most people would reply with a tentative, “fine…” but not you. Be ready with an enthusiastic, “Things are going great! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our team has not only met, but exceeded our sales goals for the last four quarters. And I’m really enjoying the leadership course I’ve been taking at the community college. I feel it is truly preparing me for the next level.” Use your imagination. Practice it from time to time. Just be ready because you never know when that kind of opportunity will present itself.

“Having a plan will not ensure your success, but without a plan you’re sure to fail.”

4. Be a Problem Solver. Business owners have enough problems already. They don’t need you to bring them more. Most times when an employee knocks at their door, managers brace themselves inside because nine times out of ten, the person knocking is bringing him a problem. Rarely do the knockers offer solutions. Develop the reputation for being solution-focused, not problem-focused. Rather than saying, “We accidentally double booked the entire afternoon…what should we do?” try framing it like this: “I want to reschedule a few of this afternoon’s patients to next week to make the afternoon run smoother. Would that be okay?” At those meetings where you know that challenges or problems are likely to be discussed, be sure to arrive at the meeting with at least two or three substantive solutions to each problem. Your approach will be noticed and appreciated.

5. Dress and Act the Part. This one can be a little tricky, at least the dress part. You certainly do not want to go over the top, but dressing at a slightly higher level than your peers will pay off. Make sure your clothes are always clean and pressed. If you wear white lab coats make sure they too are always crisp and clean. Even on casual Fridays, be sure to pay close attention to what you wear. Professionalism should always be your goal. While taking measured risks and showing initiative is part of being professional, asking appropriate questions is too. If you are not sure about something, ask. If you make a mistake, admit it, make amends, and move forward. Doing those kinds of things tends to make you look different – in a good way. Try to develop a professional reputation for yourself apart from your job. Volunteer to give a presentation at the local Kiwanis meeting, write an article for the local paper, attend industry conferences, etc. Finally, when it comes to acting the part, do not be a clock-watcher. When the practice owner says, “Hey…isn’t it past your quitting time?” imagine her surprise when you reply, “Yeah it is…I clocked out…I just wanted to make sure the reception area is organized before I go home. We’re going to be swamped tomorrow morning and I just wanted everything to be ready.”

6. Be Positive. The world (and probably your practice) is filled with whiners and complainers. The last thing it needs is another one - especially when it comes to office gossip. Develop the habit of never engaging in negative comments about anyone in the office. Here are a few tips to help. When someone begins to speak negatively about one of your co-workers, when it becomes your turn to speak, turn it around with a positive comment about the person in question. For example, when your co-worker says, “I have to work twice as hard when Charlene is working up front…she’s so lazy,” you might turn it around and say, “I’m surprised to hear that. Charlene was always the go-to person when I worked up front. She was always a big help.” You see, the last thing your co-worker wants to hear is something positive about Charlene. Taking that approach will quickly re-train your team members that you do not engage in office gossip. Another effective approach is to try to involve the other person. So when faced with the negative comments you might day, “Wow…you sound really upset with Charlene. She goes on break in a few minutes. Why not bring her in and talk about it before it gets out of hand?” Of course the gossiper will try to avoid the confrontation, which is when you can say, “Well…I’m a bit uncomfortable talking about Charlene if she’s not here…I would never talk to her about you if your weren’t here…and I’d like to think you guys wouldn’t talk about me behind my back.” You might have to share that lesson a few times before the message sinks in. The message being that you do not participate in office gossip. You maintain a positive and professional outlook.

Follow these guidelines while you perform your present job duties to the best of your ability, and you’ll be on the road to continued growth, development, and success.

Anthony Record
ABO/NCLE, RDO

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