Ask Maynard: How Do I Ask for a Promotion?

September 9th, 2015 / Comments Off on Ask Maynard: How Do I Ask for a Promotion?

A family friend recently came to me with her plan to get a promotion. Of course, I think she’s terrific and deserves it, but I couldn’t help but think she was going about it ineffectively.

Her plan was to go in and tell her bosses that she wanted a raise and title change and to outline why she deserved it. She couldn’t understand why a promotion hadn’t happened yet, and she felt a tad offended that she had to bring this up. She had a chip on her shoulder even before she approached management. That worried me.

Walking in looking angry or demanding — something that will put your boss on the defensive — is not generally conducive to getting the end result you want. On the other hand, if you can walk in with air of wonder and a spirit of enthusiasm, it can significantly help you achieve your goals.

The most effective way of asking for a promotion is not to demand it. 

Saying the equivalent of, “I think it’s time I got promoted,” could put your manager on his or her heels. Instead, try bringing it up for discussion and in a non-threatening way.  Instead, try saying something like, “I love working here. What do I need to focus on to become eligible for a bigger role?” That shows you are being accountable, and you are taking personal responsibility to understand the skills you need to obtain to become even better. It also puts your boss in the position he or she should be in — one of helping you advance and achieve your career goals. As you listen to this guidance and absorb the information, ask for support in coming up with a plan to check in and monitor progress.

Having said all this, there are times when the outcome of this conversation may not be what you want. There are instances when employers don’t appropriately appreciate you or reward you. For anyone, and especially for the most motivated people, this can cause extreme angst and they can become bitter and disengaged. Too many individuals — more than half the workforce — are not engaged at work and 17.5% are “actively disengaged.”

What do you do when you are loyal, work hard, serve as a good soldier, and then get overlooked for a promotion?  In this case, talk with your manager about your path at the company. Ask: “How far do you see me being able to go?” and “What else do you see me able to do?”

This will give you greater clarity on where you are with the company and what your career potential looks like. You may or may not agree with the feedback, and ultimately, it’s your choice on whether or not you want to stay after you’ve been under-appreciated or passed over for a promotion. However, even if you decide to go, you’ve served yourself well by approaching the process with a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie. The world is small and life is short. If you decide to move on, you’ll leave with everybody feeling good about what you’ve achieved together and optimistic about what’s next.

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