7 ways to earn promotion as a planner, part 2

Published: 04 Oct 2017

Career progression can mean many things - building an interesting portfolio of work, working for a variety of organisations, advancing to senior positions within the organisation we already work for.

In the last case, that means earning promotions. Martha Harris asks: what are the attributes a planner needs to be recognised for advancement?

See: 7 ways to earn promotion as a planner, part 1

5. Polish your soft skills

Andrew Close, RTPI [square]How important is workplace etiquette in aiding promotion? Andrew Close (left), head of careers, education and professional development at the RTPI, says that for early career planners, good soft skills are essential.

“Basic office skills such as getting to work on time and having a good telephone manner should be at the top of a graduate’s list of things to demonstrate on a CV or at interview, alongside knowing the technical detail and being able to produce succinct reports,” he stresses.

“Seeking out work experience as part of a planning course can be a good way to observe and practice these employability skills.”

6. Don’t worry about the short term

Wei Yang of Wei Yang and partners [square]Wei Yang (right), founder of Wei Yang & Partners, who was promoted four times in seven years at a major planning consultancy before starting her own practice, says planners shouldn’t worry about chasing short-term gains.

“When you become an invaluable member of an organisation, promotion will come to you,” she says. “I never worried about short-term promotions – I just did my job properly, to the best quality I could.”But, she says, having a long-term career plan is very important.

"When you become an invaluable member of an organisation, promotion will come to you"

“Don’t be afraid to show your ambition, as it is important for people to be aware of what you are striving for professionally. But be very patient, and do even the simplest jobs properly. People need to see your commitment.”Yang urges planners to make the most of their company’s annual review, which is “a great opportunity to review your professional development plan”.

“Think about the additional training that you want to do or conferences that you want to attend, agree them with your manager, and make sure you have these in writing.”

7. Broaden your experience

It depends on you, but gaining varied experience at the beginning of your career will “stand you in good stead”, says Close.

“It will help you consider what area you may want to specialise in, whether additional training would help, and even open up opportunities to move between private and public sectors.”

Yang says that new planners should also make an effort to learn from other professions. 

“A lot can be learnt from architects, ecologists, landscape architects, archaeologists, transport engineers, and even politicians.

“Planning deals with all these aspects, so it is important to appreciate their point of view so that you can develop good communication, and can reflect everybody’s interests within your own judgement.”

Q&A: Adele Maher

Adele Maher, Tower Hamlets [square]Adele Maher (left) is strategic planning manager and director of development and renewal at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Q: Any tips for novice planners?

A: Know your value and be bold in your requests. There are many opportunities out there for planners in the early to mid-stages of their career, and having good planners in place is worth its weight in gold to an organisation. If they want to keep you and your knowledge you could use this in negotiations with management, where reasonable, to secure the role in the project you want, to secure training, or to help secure a promotion. 


Q: How did you achieve promotion?

A: It helps to be goal-focused. Identify an important project you want to be involved in, ideally one that can successfully be achieved within a two-year window. Your involvement provides a great example of your commitment and motivation to see a project through from start to finish.

Put yourself forward. Be open and enthusiastic to try new things and get involved. Early in your career there are benefits of taking a ‘why not’ attitude, including putting yourself forward to support colleagues or teams in or outside your service. 


Q: Any advice you’ve been given that helped you?

Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. You have room early in your career to try different things.

If you have a specific career path in mind but currently have gaps in your skills and experience, target shorter-term projects that can help you fill these deficits.

Being out of your depth sometimes is the best way to learn; embrace the challenge. Show innovation, show drive, show leadership, but also ask for help and advice from your more experienced colleagues to help guide your way.

Photo | iStock

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