I heard an interesting thing today. I attended an interview with the Chief Executive Officer of a large corporation. He said that when his executive staff tell him that someone will be ready for promotion in six months, he says “Promote them now. No one is ever completely ready. If they will be ready in six months, they are ready now.”

I have found this to be true in most organizations- from the executive suite to the plant floor. It is the person who is being promoted – not their skill level. They will advance because of who they are – not necessarily because of what they know. By now, it is clear if they can be taught the things that they need to know – or not. What are the things that a new executive/manager/supervisor/etc. needs to know? They need to know how to organize tasks, how to lead people to want to do those tasks, how to communicate what needs to be done (and what hasn’t been done), how to correct the situation if things get off track. Can any of that be learned in six months? No. It takes years. Sometimes it is never learned. Can any of it be learned without the experience of trying it? That has not been my experience. Ask yourself what the person actually needs to accomplish in six months in order to be ready. If there is a real answer, make a plan to get them ready. If the answer is fuzzy, they are probably as ready as they are going to be.

Now turn that around to yourself. If you want to be promoted and haven’t been, why? It could be that the company is waiting for you to develop “in the next six months”. If you think that is the case, perhaps you can gently challenge it. You can ask informal questions about the position you are targeting. If you have a mentor in the executive level, you can ask more specifically what they will be expecting from you. Alternatively, it could be that you are “not the person”. You are not the right fit for the next position. Executive teams have a personality of their own. Your personality may not fit in that team. If that might be the case, can you develop the traits that will be needed? Do you want to? If the answer to either of those questions is no, perhaps you should be looking for something that is a better fit. If you are not sure, it might be useful to find a coach. Many organizations today have an in-house coaching staff – often in the Human Resources department. Sometimes you only need to ask for a coach. If your organization does not have one or you do not qualify for it, you can contact the International Coaching Federation. Visit Coachfederation.org to help you locate someone who is a good coach for you.

Whether you are the one doing the promoting or the one who wants to be promoted, don’t wait six months. Do it today.