Four Keys for Getting a Promotion at Work -- Work In Sports Podcast


Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning with and this is the WorkInSports podcast… 

The question comes in today and it kind of calls me out. Which I love. I seriously love it when people call me on my stuff. Well, when they do it productively. For example -- emailing me and saying “you are the biggest moron I’ve ever listened to” I don’t love that. But if someone says ...hey, you talk a lot about this, but not enough about that”

I love it because you are telling me what you want to know. I want that, I want to hear from you all. I don’t want to make up what I think is relevant, I want you all to ask!

So hit me up on LinkedIn, ask questions, email me, -- that’s my legit email. I want to hear from you all.

OK, let’s get to the question from Ben in Alabama 

“Hey Brian, I love the podcast but I am a little bored with the Monday podcasts lately. I feel like you are spending so much time preparing people to work in sports, but not helping those of us in the industry advance.

I started in the business a year ago, and I’m anxious to grow. I don’t want to hear as much about internships or resume building, I want to hear about other topics that will push me forward.”

Ben thank you. 

I’ll be honest, I read this at first and felt defensive… like wait, are you for real? My immediate gut reaction was to send you a list of podcast episodes you should listen to, and to explain to you the expert interviews that are all about advancement… but really,. When I took a deep breath, waited a second and thought about it… there is some good learning in here for me too.

I guess that is your first tip for today. Take a breath before responding. I used to be the most emotional person in the newsroom. Someone challenged my work, I’d be ready to rumble. Someone asked a question about why I made a certain decision, I’d be on the cusp of war. 

I look back at how I performed in my earlier years and wonder how I survived. I had talent, I worked hard...but I was so confrontational and defensive. I was probably impossible to work with. 

Take a deep breath before responding, don't immediately feel like your honor is on the line. Don’t assume people are out to get you. Be willing to constructively improve. 

Alright, that's a freebie -- didn’t even expect to talk about that.

Ok, let’s get into some year one things you can be doing to improve your chances of being promoted and growing.

1: Improve your Communication skills - this is not the old man saying “twitter has ruined grammar!”

Quite the opposite. In some ways young people today communicate with more confidence that in my time. I would attribute that to social media. YOu arent afraid to say and share what you feel -- and that is good. 

BUT - there has to be an emphasis on quality. 

I receive emails almost daily from students and young professionals asking career-focused questions.  I am not the grammar police, I hate AP style grammar, was never good at it because I write and speak with emotion, and AP wants everything buttoned so tight. 

Anyway, of these emails I receive, 9 out of 10 are horribly written. Obvious grammar problems, confusing messages, run-on sentences, I sometimes read the emails and think -- what the hell are they asking me?

Now take this to the workplace -- if you can’t articulate your strategy, approach, tactics, if you can’t explain in a paragraph what you need to do your job better, if you can’t make a cohesive argument for an idea -- you will not grow. 

If you can’t speak in front of a group - you will not grow.

If you can’t make a strong clear point - you will not grow. 

I can go on and on, communication skills are incredibly important. When you are articulate, when you are composed and have clear thoughts and needs -- you send out confidence. 

Remember, when I am your boss, I don’t want to have to explain you. 

Here’s what I mean -- I don’t want you to send my boss an email, or speak in a meeting, or share something company-wide-- that I then have to go tell other senior members, they are better than this, they are really good, trust me, they can do the job. 


If you sound bad, you make my life harder. Learn to communicate. 

2: Think about leadership traits early. 

Lead the people around you, that means beneath you, next to you and even slightly above you. 

The first part of being a leader is being the absolute best at your role. So often people think leadership is a step ahead of where they are, but in truth, it’s becoming the unquestioned boss of your role. 

When you are known as the best, and you couple that with your communication skills, people will naturally flock to you. They’ll have questions, ideas, concepts - and they'll want to ask you about them, and pitch you on the ideas. 

Leaders are not defensive and are not self-conscious. I’ve never met a good leader who was afraid of someone else’s idea. The best leaders know they aren’t going to have all the answers, so they view it as invaluable to create an environment where ideas are welcomed and appreciated. 

Leaders listen and get excited by ideas. Not threatened.

Consider taking an online class in leadership development skills early on, or maybe a continuing ed course.  The more you can learn about and develop as a leader, the higher your career ceiling is.

3: Keep learning

4: Set and communicate career goals - no one will advocate for you. 

That’ll cover some of it for you Ben -- if you focus on these traits you’ll be in a good position for your future. 

Coming up on Wednesday’s podcast -- Mary Pink! I’ve been trying to land Mary for two years as a guest and finally get it done! Mary is the Associate Athletic Director for Marketing at Iowa State ...and one of the many things I find fascinating about Mary is that she’s been at Iowa State for 24 years!

At a time where we see people jump from school to school and job to job, in order to grow, she’s been rock solid in Ames, Iowa for 24 years -- she’ll tell us why on Wednesday!

Alright, get back to work.

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By Brian Clapp | March 09, 2020
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