You’ve been in the same role for years, waiting to earn that promotion you’ve always wanted. And not just for a better title and a bigger paycheck, but for the feeling of knowing your work is valued and your company admires what you bring to the table.

However, you’re not going to earn a promotion by simply sitting and waiting—you’ll earn it by going above and beyond in your everyday tasks.

That’s why we asked 12 successful entrepreneurs from YEC to share the one trait employees should have to guarantee them a promotion later on down the road.


1. You Step Outside Your Department

People can often get stuck in their niche, team, or role. When I see someone step outside of his department and apply skills to support other teams—not to mention go out of his way to learn what others’ day-to-day work and challenges are—it tells me that he’s willing to own his responsibilities while giving to others. He sees the bigger mission of the company.

Shane Snow, Contently


2. You Devise Simpler Solutions

If one of my employees can devise a solution that’s simpler than what we already use, I immediately take notice. When an employee thinks outside the box to such an extent that she individually modifies a company’s processes, she’s worthy of a promotion in my eyes.

Russell Kommer, eSoftware Associates Inc


3. You Take Ownership

When you stop thinking in terms of your job description and start thinking in terms of helping the company, that’s when you’ll truly shine. Especially with startups, managers don’t always have the time and resources to tell you what to do next. By thinking like an entrepreneur, you’ll always stay ahead of the curve, and it’ll make everyone’s lives easier.

Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital


4. You Always Go One Step Further

Go one step further by performing tasks your manager never asked for. I’m most impressed by employees who take the initiative to research, learn, and propose new ideas or solutions to existing challenges. Since they’re the ones performing specific tasks, they’re most suited to suggest changes in processes or workflows.

Marcela De Vivo, Brilliance


5. You Set Goals and Hit Them

Too often, people communicate goals and don’t hit them. Even in a relatively informal setting, if you vocalize that you’ll get something done by a certain date, execute on it and let people know about it (without bragging). This is a simple way to build a track record of dependability, and it makes you stand out from the majority.

Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar


6. You’re Curious

Having a positive attitude and being able to ask ‘why’ are two attributes that all high-potential employees should have. Curiosity indicates a vested interest in the underlying ‘why’ that drives what we’re doing, while a positive attitude makes you a pleasant person to be around.

Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.


7. You Search for Opportunities to Generate Revenue

Employees who advance the fastest are the ones who find new ways to upsell, cross-sell, or straight out sell. That goes for employees who aren’t even in sales. It tells your employer that you’re looking out for the company and the company’s future. And, it’s easy for an employer to give you a raise if you’ve justified it with revenue.

Dan Golden, Be Found Online


8. You Create Value

Take initiatives beyond your job description and create interdepartmental or cross-disciplinary collaborative teams to create value for the company. Showing interest in creating new products, features, or improvements will surely be noticed by your employer. Send emails and meeting invites to other departments, engage in conversations, and make white papers to showcase your ideas for improving the product.

Nemoy Rau, US Biometrix


9. You’re Punctual

If you’re on time to work and stay until the end of the day every day, I take notice. It shows that you care about the company and are putting in the effort. With such a great work ethic, you increase the likelihood of earning a promotion.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR


10. You Excel in Multiple Roles

Any good employee can excel in their role; however, only great employees will excel in multiple roles. When I see an employee step out of his comfort zone and succeed in a project or role that isn’t part of his duties, I’ll definitely consider him for a promotion when it’s time for his review.

Anthony Pezzotti, Knowzo.com


11. You Show a Serious Interest in Long-Term Growth

I know it’s not likely I’ll find an employee who cares about my company as much as I do, but I always take notice when someone works toward the long-term health of the company. Some people don’t go above and beyond in their jobs, or for others, it’s just something they do for the paycheck. If you care about the company as a whole, then you’re worth keeping around, and promotions are a good incentive.

Adam Steele, Loganix


12. You Generate Ideas

By sharing ideas that save or make money for the company, you illustrate that you deserve more responsibility and a higher income. Your ability and willingness to develop solutions that grow the company mean you’re very valuable.

Abhilash Patel, Recovery Brands


Photo of two men working courtesy of Caiaimage/Trevor Adeline/Getty Images.