Didn't Get That Promotion? Now What?

Michael Haid Blog

climbing career ladder

When it comes to promotions, nobody wants to be that person who gets left behind.

We all know the feeling. We want the chance to move up. A new title, a bigger paycheck, a bigger office. But when that coveted job finally opens up, we watch with a sense of an outsider looking in as someone else gets the nod.

Questions abound. What did that other person do to help them secure a promotion? What did I do wrong? Is the whole system for awarding promotions fixed and stacked against me?

In most instances, you didn’t do anything wrong. Not really. But it’s possible you overlooked a number of small, important things that would have given you a better chance at being promoted.

It’s important to remember that many organizations are not very good at managing promotions.

They fail when it comes to communicating with employees about both promotion opportunities and expectations. As a result, when a promotional opportunity opens up and is filled immediately, it creates the impression that the fix was in. It suggests that managers had already identified the person that they wanted to promote, but still made everyone else go through the motions of applying and being interviewed.

If you don’t want to get left behind when promotions are being made, then plan out a pathway that will not only ensure you are qualified to move up, but that your manager see you as an obvious choice.

Michael Haid SVP Talent Development Solutions Director

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are best practices that can help improve the chances of any individual to get a much-desired promotion.

  • Make your aspirations known. Far too many people think it’s a mistake to lobby for a promotion. These people think that unless your manager encourages you to apply, it’s pointless to apply. This is a huge mistake. You have to let your manager know you want to move up to a more important role. Start a conversation with your manager about identifying a pathway to a promotion, and make it clear that if an opportunity arises, you want to be considered.
  • Take a long look in the mirror. Wanting a promotion is all good and fine, but do you really deserve one? Do you have the educational background, the skillset and the work experience to qualify you for a move up? Take a long, hard look at yourself and identify those areas where you can upgrade. Again, a conversation with your manager  -as well as others in the workplace that know you well - can help to identify shortcomings, and a plan to fill gaps or boost qualifications. Showing an interest in self-improvement is also an excellent way of demonstrating your enthusiasm for a promotion.
  • Seek and accept feedback. If you seek out advice from managers and mentors, you’ll need to be prepared to hear that you’re not quite ready for a promotion. If you really want to move up, you have to be willing to accept some tough feedback. Demonstrating maturity and resilience in the face of feedback will make you more attractive to managers when promotion opportunities open up.
  • Volunteer to undergo assessments. When looking to fill a senior role, most organizations will put candidates through some form of assessment. It’s a great idea to volunteer to undergo one of those assessments to identify gaps in skills and expertise. Perhaps you need to take a course, or seek a temporary placement in another department to broaden your work experience. These shortcomings can be identified through a thoughtful assessment. Volunteering will help your managers see you as fearless and confident.

Promotions will not just fall into your lap. It takes a lot of hard work and planning to not only develop the competencies to take on a more senior role, but also to make sure that managers know you have the appetite to move up.

This isn’t about clawing and scratching your way up the corporate ladder in a desperate battle with your co-workers. This is about making sure you are prepared to take on a promotion, and that your manager sees you as a leading candidate.

If you don’t want to get left behind when promotions are being made, then plan out a pathway that will not only ensure you are qualified to move up, but that your manager see you as an obvious choice.


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