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How To Get A Promotion

How To Get A Promotion

Asking for a promotion can be tricky. Suzanne de Janasz, professor of leadership and organisation development, IMD, explains how to be prepared when approaching the subject.

You don’t get what you don’t ask for. This adage is especially relevant in an environment where individuals and organizations find themselves struggling to keep pace.

Are employees so grateful to have a job that they choose not to seek a promotion? Or perhaps they believe that “my work speaks for itself; I need not ask for what I deserve” or “good things come to those who wait.”

Patience may be a virtue, but witnessing others receiving recognition and promotions while you’re being overlooked is a recipe for resentment, decreased productivity, and possibly departure from the organization.

Marketing oneself is for many unnatural, or worse, a societal taboo. But savvy employees recognize that tough economic times may offer unique opportunities to improve their employment situation by helping their employer reduce costs, increase revenues, or improve competitiveness.

Here are three things to bear in mind when seeking a promotion:

Ensure your network is aware of your knowledge and expertise

Performing well is a necessary but insufficient prerequisite for promotion. Beyond the annual performance appraisal conversation with your boss, you need to ensure that others within your professional and personal network are aware of your unique knowledge, capabilities, and track record.

For those uncomfortable with the idea of self-promotion, look at it this way: (1) nobody is in a better position to market the brand that is you, and (2) by ensuring others know your capabilities and contributions, you increase your social capital and visibility within the organization.

Know what you want and why

“I want a promotion,” is a weak way to start a conversation with your boss. Prepare by researching positions (within and outside the organization) for which you possess at least 70% of the qualifications and be able to articulate exactly the position you want and why.

Clarify how your accomplishments and capabilities match the position requirements, and demonstrate your worth by pointing out inefficiencies that your ideas have reduced or new clients you’ve brought in. Who could argue with a Dhs50,000 a year higher paid position for someone who has increased revenues by Dhs825,000 last year?

Also, consider your boss’s goals in your preparation. Would your promotion enable him or her to offload tasks that would free up their time for more strategic activities? Could your taking on an expat assignment provide them with a trusted expert in a growing but challenging market? Look for voids that you might fill or problems you might alleviate.

What if the boss says “no?”

When you know what you want and why, you’re better equipped to consider multiple satisfactory alternatives. Going in with an ultimatum is unwise; such threats can harm the working relationship.

Considering attractive alternatives to your goals gives you more confidence in the negotiation process since you don’t have to accept whatever is – or isn’t – offered. It also gives you the ability to be persistent about your goal without alienating your boss.

By suggesting other possible solutions, you help reframe the conversation into a collaborative problem-solving session. For example, you might negotiate a promotion that is tied to the accomplishment of a specific goal.

Another yes-able alternative would be a phased-in agreement. Or, at the very least, you might agree to revisit the conversation at a specific time, for example, in three months.

In tough economic times, your good performance is more valuable than ever. There may be cheaper employees available, but no one knows the job – or is as committed to seeing the company succeed – as much as you do.

Remind yourself of that, and prepare yourself thoroughly to remind your boss what you deserve and why. You might not get everything you ask for, but you will certainly get none of what you don’t ask for.

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