How to get a promotion as an introvert

Career Comeback

Have you ever looked at the names on the promotion notice and thought ‘I’ve got more experience than they have’?

Or started working for a new boss and thought ‘I could do just as well as they’re doing’!

But, you didn’t get invited to apply or something stopped you.

In a world that favours extraversion, it’s hard to get noticed as an introvert. In fact, some introverts prefer to go unnoticed. We don’t self-promote and hope our work will speak for itself. I’m here to tell you that generally, it doesn’t.  Disappointing, I know, but true. Many managers don’t notice what a great job you’re doing, especially if you’re ‘low maintenance’. Worse still, people may assume that your quiet demeanour means you’re not interested in a promotion or taking on an exciting opportunity.

The qualities that introverts bring to the workplace are really needed. And, it’s up to us, as Introverts, to highlight those qualities authentically.  With increasing commentary about what great manager’s and leaders Introverts make, we need to step up and confidently claim our place.

So how do you get a promotion as an Introvert? There are three basic stages to follow

Understand and own your type of Introversion

Many introverts have told me that they felt there was something wrong with them, so understanding your unique type of introversion is an essential first step. There are six distinct types and numerous combinations, so we all bring different qualities and skills to the table. These variations have often caused people to assume they are ambiverts, because the different types can exhibit a range of behaviours typically associated with extraversion, without experiencing the debilitating loss of energy. This knowledge makes answering the ‘strengths’ question authentically on applications and during interviews so much easier. Even though there are differences, every true Introvert shares the need to recharge in relative quietness and will find specific situations, and certain types of people, draining.  And remember, introversion is not the same as shyness, social anxiety or depression.  I know Extraverts who experience those things too.

Create your strategy

Once you know your type of Introversion and your strengths and qualities, it’s time to develop your promotion strategy. I’m not suggesting you shout about your successes, because that wouldn’t be congruent for an Introvert. But it is about playing to your strengths. Confidently and consistently.

Consistently play to your strengths

Promotion prospects are generally enhanced when we demonstrate enough credibility and visibility. Reflecting on my own experience, and through coaching Introverts who are ready to flourish, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern. Typically, Extraverts naturally take the visibility route, and worry about the credibility later. This can seem inauthentic to Introverts as we prefer to take the credibility route. But we can be guilty of avoiding the visibility piece.

So, the magic formula here is to develop a strategy of equal credibility and visibility ‘moves.  Not sure how to do that? Here are some examples.

  • Make a list of your Introversion strengths and positive qualities and the benefits they bring to the team or organisation. This might include how being thoughtful means problem solving is more considered, so you get to the root cause of a problem rather than rushing at the presenting issue.  Or maybe your attention to detail could save time and money being wasted in rework. And a real Introvert benefit is that as you don’t get involved in office dramas, things can normalise faster rather than being whipped up into a frenzy.  This gives you valuable information to talk about with your boss or prospective employer.
  • Make a list of your achievements and then find, or create, a relevant opportunity to talk about one of them. Keep a track of the positive feedback you’ve received, so you can bring these into performance review conversations with your boss. I keep a folder with feedback from clients and colleagues to make this easy.
  • If you’ve had feedback that says, ‘we didn’t think you were interested in promotion’, ask for a career planning meeting with your boss. Work out beforehand where you want to go and make a proposal to your boss. Or, create your preferred career plan, then book a meeting with the boss to discuss it.
  • Perhaps you’ve been told ‘you should speak up more in meeting’. Introverts don’t take airtime for the sake of it, so play to your listening skills.  Make your contributions meaningful by asking clarifying questions, summarising and bringing people back on track. That’s of value in our busy workplaces. Offer to chair the meeting; Introverts are often the most prepared, so in a good position to keep the meeting productive.
  • Playing to your strengths consistently demonstrates the reliability that employers are looking for. The most damaging piece of advice is to pretend, to ‘fake it til you make it’.  Don’t do that!  You need to be able to be consistent and congruent.  Pretending to be something you’re not ultimately takes its toll. In my case, it left me completely depleted and it will frustrate the employers who feel they have been duped.  Keep creating opportunities to shine and adding to your list of achievements.

So next time you find yourself taking a back seat when part of you wants to contribute, do it!  Time to up your credibility and visibility.

About the author

Joanna Rawbone is the founder of Flourishing Introverts. Joanna has a real passion for helping her clients make the small but sustainable changes that really make a difference.  Being a functioning introvert, her clients value her ability to listen to more than the words, understand things from their perspective and co-create robust, pragmatic solutions.

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