Chances are you've discussed your desire to be promoted with your boss. Chances are she said you needed to deliver at a higher level before she could promote you. Chances are she didn't provide a roadmap or support for doing so beyond a "Go for it" as she walked you out of her office.

Fear not. The solution is simple. The key to being recognized and rewarded is to deliver beyond expectations. The best way to deliver beyond expectation is to identify, lead and deliver an initiative that positively effects your department and ripples out to your clients.

There are 3 easy steps to making this happen:

  • Write a list of all the things that annoy you about your workplace.
    • Don't edit it, don't share it with anyone, don't make it pretty. Just write.
    • Next to each item on the list, write down how you would fix it.
    • Now write what's stopping you from fixing it. Honestly.
    • Prioritize. Write down which annoyance you want resolved first. And why.

  • Write your mission statement for this initiative. It needs to speak to WHY you feel strongly about it and HOW your actions will benefit the department and company.
  • Build a task force. Invite the eager junior level team member, the disgruntled and smart senior level team member and the middle level team member who wants to take on more. This is an opportunity for them to deliver beyond expectation also. It's an opportunity for each of you to be a part of the strategic evolution of the company.

  • Example
    • Annoyance: Inconsistent brand elements used in marketing materials.
    • Initiative: Visual Audit
    • Mission statement: It's important to differentiate ourselves from the competition by having a consistent brand in ever piece the customer sees. This builds trust, confidence and comfort, which gives customers a sense of security. They'll come to us over the competition because they trust us.

    A visual audit of all your marketing materials is an exercise many creative departments do every few years. It's a behemoth of a project, and it feels quite administrative. Pulling together ads, banners, tent cards. Posting them on black boards. Organizing them by client or by project type or by season. Deciding how to organize them. It sounds so tactical and junior in nature.

    In fact, this is one of the most strategic initiatives you can lead. It combines the tactical with the strategic and builds a community of collegiality. It's true. By pulling these materials together, presenting it to the creative team and clients in one meeting, you've created a shared moment of what the customer actually experiences. And without finger pointing, there can be a discussion of what is out of brand, and what can evolve and in what way--this often leads to a discussion of how the departments can better collaborate to ensure a consistent brand customer experience.

    By defining, managing and delivering a tactical and strategic initiative, your team, your clients and your boss will see the leader you truly are. Chances are your boss's boss will see also. They'll see, in action--not words--that you think strategically and can bring a large group together to collaborate and evolve the creative product as well as interdepartmental relationships. These are huge accomplishments.

    A true leader sees a need, pulls people together to fix it and does it without fanfare. That will get you noticed. And likely promoted!

    Cella Consultant Rena DeLevie's nickname is "COO of the Creative Process." She has 25 years in the creative industry; first as an art director for 8 years, then in Creative Operations for the past 17 years. Rena has, and continues to, provide business coaching and mentoring services throughout her career and has successfully taught creative executives how to partner within and across departments. She works with clients to define specific and actionable steps towards their goals and ensures they're in alignment with the Company mission. Her passion is to help companies and people succeed by listening, analyzing and proposing solutions. She values creativity and business equally.