You don’t have to wait for a promotion to be offered to you.  Instead, be accountable for your own career by following these steps:

Get Feedback

Make sure that you understand exactly how your manager defines your role and what is expected of you.  Ask your manager for feedback on a regular basis.  By asking questions you will create an ongoing conversation that will help you focus on the right objectives.  Example questions that you can ask are:  What skills do I need to improve on?  What classes would you recommend I take?  Can you recommend work groups I should look into joining?

Build a Vision

Remember “vision” encompasses the big picture.  It still needs a plan broken up into specific steps for it to come to fruition.  By asking your supervisor what success looks like, you can build a plan that blends both employer and employee expectations for complete satisfaction.

Develop a Plan

Without a plan, you won’t know where to go.  Once you have feedback from your supervisor, you will have a basic idea of what to consider working on.  Decide what is the most important to you, and then work backwards to find out all steps you need to take to get there.  For example, ask yourself, “in order for me to get to the next level, I need to work on my communication skills  Then look for courses or books that can help you practice.  A good course for communication is Dale Carnegie’s course, “How to Talk with Diplomacy and Tact.”  Part of your plan might also include assisting another team or division of your company.  If there are opportunities, ask your manager to put your name forward.

Follow a Leader

Whether you find a mentor within or outside of your organization, this person should be someone who has already found success and can help you by giving you suggestions on how to find it on your own.  Informational interviews are a great way to gather information on how to succeed on a particular career path.

Prove your Performance

I recommend that you prepare for your annual review all year long by keeping track of what you accomplish as you accomplish it.  This will ensure that you are ready for the next performance conversation with your employer.  It is also very motivating to look at your list of annual accomplishments.

Now get to work on accomplishing the goals that you set up.  It’s up to you to propel your career forward.

Do you have any suggestions that I haven’t mentioned that have worked for you?  Please add them to the comments below.