It can seem tough to snag a promotion when you’re working from home. After all, without face-to-face time with your team and boss, how can you show your worth? Executive and career coach Lauren Cohen understands: “When working remotely, employees often feel unable to adequately and accurately show their dedication and professional accomplishments,” Cohen says. “They worry their boss doesn’t know that they are starting early, dressing up — from the waist up — and Zooming, taking copious notes, coordinating projects, and going the extra mile.”
But it’s not impossible to prove your worth and get a promotion while working from home. By honing these seven skills, you can show your boss you’re ready for a new role — even remotely.
The ability to create strong relationships.
Even though you’re working from home, you’re not really working alone. And Sheila Murphy, career coach and CEO of Focus Forward Consulting, says it’s vital you sharpen your relationship-building skills to prove you’re ready for a promotion. She recommends you show your boss you “have the relationships needed to accomplish and exceed objectives” while working from home.
You can strengthen relationships with coworkers, team members, and clients by engaging, helping, and encouraging them on digital channels, such as Slack, Zoom, and email.
A healthy dose of self-discipline.
According to Cohen, “The best remote employees can work independently and do not require a lot of hand-holding.” In other words, if you’re self-disciplined and proactive, you can prove you are ready for a promotion when you work from home. Cohen suggests you “show” your boss a summary of the action items you’ve checked off your to-do list each day. “The more you can show things that no one asked you to do, the more likely you are to get promoted,” she explains.
A deep understanding of your business.
As Murphy points out, “being remote means that you do not hear the watercooler conversations, and you may not have access to the same information that people in offices do.” But you don’t have to be in the office to know your business inside-and-out. Take the time to read industry and company news, and tap into your online networks to stay abreast of any changes. “You need to demonstrate that you have a deeper understanding of the organization, where it wants to go, and how you will contribute to that effort,” Murphy says, to land your desired promotion.
If you see something awry, don’t simply report the problem. Instead, “think about some ways to help fix whatever is going on,” suggests Cohen. “If you can collaborate and be a team player and help fix things, this will go noticed. And if you’re concerned no one will know you helped take control of a situation, you can highlight your positive actions in an appropriate way.” Cohen points out that leaders offer solutions and work positively and productively — no matter where they are based. “Remote workers who demonstrate leadership are invaluable,” she says.
There is at least one advantage to working remotely while vying for a promotion: “You are not working in what may be an echo chamber insisting that approaches stay the same,” says Murphy. “Being outside the central hub means that you may look at issues with a fresh eye and bring innovative solutions to a problem.” And if you can do that, you are well on your way to earning a promotion. “Organizations are looking for people that think differently and question the status quo,” she says. “Employees with innovative solutions are positioned for greater responsibilities.”
If the promotion you want would put you in a manager’s position, you’ll need to show you can lead a team — and develop talent — remotely. But luckily, “you can show this skill by how you lead projects and mentor others,” says Murphy. How can you do that? “Make sure that your manager knows how you orchestrate project execution and motivate talent,” Murphy suggests.
Strong communication skills.
You may not be talking to coworkers in-person, but you’re still communicating plenty by phone, email, and other online channels, such as Slack and Zoom. “Communicating well in writing, by phone, and on video is critical to success as a remote worker,” says Cohen, and it’s also one of the keys to being promoted. “Strong communicators are more likely to get promotions because they can advocate for their accomplishments and further the mission of their company, whatever their role is,” Cohen explains. You can show you’re a strong communicator by asking questions and reporting important information. “Remote workers need to go the extra mile to be strong communicators and show collaboration and leadership in all communications,” Cohen says.
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