How to Get That Long-Awaited Promotion

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workplacePromotions are great, but they don’t come easy. And if you find that other people in your office are getting promoted before you, then your boss may have a problem with you or your work. But you can take charge and turn the situation around.

You have to stop making certain common mistakes. Among them are:

–Not making their manager look good. “Employees commonly fail to understand the core of the psychological contract between a manager and an employee; take care of them and they will take care of you,” explains Ben Brooks, founder/CEO of the tech startup PILOT, a career improvement startup. “The employee obsesses over their own needs, advancement, preferences, and rewards, neglecting to consider those of their manager. Rather than do the things that cast their manager in a positive light and increase their chances of promotion, they sub-optimize around the things they foolishly think will advance their own career.” To turn this around, pay more attention to what your boss wants. Says Brooks, “Spend time getting to know your manager’s goals and aspirations. Help to read the political landscape inside the company and understand how it is positioned with your boss and peers. Become their partner in advancing their career by taking on the things that matter most to them.”

–You need to get your attitude in check. “Your work is great, but your attitude isn’t. As purpose and meaning come front and center in the workplace and soft skills become more important, greater emphasis is placed on “how” you do your work. You may deliver outstanding results, but if you are hard to work with, tough on junior team members, neglect your people managerial responsibilities, complain, are visibly frustrated–you will likely be passed over in favor of someone who also gets the job done in a more people friendly way. If you are perpetually negative, no one will want to risk employee engagement by promoting you,” Caroline Siemers, an independent management consultant who specializes in employee strategies and internal communication, points out. To reverse this, you will have to work on yourself. “Be willing to take a risk to learn more about yourself. Self awareness is the only way to reverse an attitude problem. You will have to change your attitude and you can’t successfully do that without understanding why it is the way it is,” advised Siemers.

–Unaware of your faults.
“Research suggests people do a poor job of assessing their own strengths or recognizing their own weaknesses. They rely on ineffective and antiquated formalized annual performance review processes for feedback, failing to solicit, process, understand, and address feedback on a continuous basis,” Brooks points out. Do a 360 by asking people for feedback. “Don’t rely on your own senses to understand what you’re good at and what you need to improve on. Be active and direct in soliciting feedback from others. Have a clear sense of the ways in which you need to improve and take action to invest in addressing those gaps,” suggests Brooks.

–People don’t think you are giving it your all.
“Your work is great, but your work-style underwhelms. You may be doing a fine job, even a great job, with solid results and impact. BUT. If your work style isn’t aligned with those of the people making the promotion decisions, an unconscious bias may get in your way. If the team is all about ‘killing it!’ and you’re a more reticent type, you may get passed because you’re not seen as wanting it as much as someone who is ‘killing it.’ This is unfair but also common,” says Siemers. Instead, make people take notice. Be proud of your accomplishments. Offers Siemers, “Speak up. Find out why you were passed over and ask the tough questions: ‘Is there something about my work-style that makes you doubt I’d be successful? Is there something you need from me that you’re not getting?’ and ‘I’m committed to growing my career here. I don’t want this to happen again. What needs to change?’”

–Just not playing the game right. “Failure to understand the rules of the game–They don’t understand the specific mechanics of how promotions are given and evaluated,” notes Brooks. “They assume that due to things like tenure they are entitled to a promotion. They don’t help grow the businesses or become more efficient so the organization can afford to promote more people, or they optimize around activities and criteria that don’t matter in promotion evaluation.”  So instead of being passed over, you can start learning how your company works. Advises Brooks, “Do your research with your manager, colleagues, mentors and HR to understand how promotions are determined and given. Know the specific things that get people ahead and which things simply don’t matter. Double down on what’s important to the company.”