So you’ve had enough! For years now you’ve been doing the same job, with the same company, and you’re bored. It’s clearly time for a change. It’s time for a new job……a promotion.
If this sounds like you, chances are you’ve thought about marching into your supervisor’s office and demanding a promotion many times in the last little while. The problem is, you haven’t done it yet because that little voice in your head is telling you to wait. What you’re waiting for you’re not quite sure, but something isn’t right. The question is how do you figure out what that is? How do you get past those voices of doubt?
The answer is to take the emotion out of the process. To step back and put yourself in your boss’ shoes and ask, what is it that he or she needs to hear to justify your promotion? With this knowledge, the next step is to honestly assess you performance in light of these expectations. If after this process you’re confident that you’ve met their criteria, then create a short, concise sales pitch, and go for it!
Over the years, when employees have approached me using this strategy their arguments have always been much more convincing, and more importantly, their level of conviction and confidence much higher. Take it from me, it is very difficult for a supervisor to say no to someone who has taken the emotion out of their argument and focused on the facts. Facts are indisputable.
So what does your boss or supervisor need to hear? They need to hear you address the following major points
1. You’ve put in your time.
Usually this means you’ve been in your current position for at least a year. There could be exceptions to this time frame, but please know, nothing upsets a supervisor more than someone who asks for a promotion after only a few months. Asking for a promotion too often is also a real turn-off.
2. You’ve met performance expectations
In your sales pitch you should provide a brief recap of your job performance reviews over the years, which hopefully have been positive. In the absence of formal reviews you should focus on any positive feedback, or if necessary, the absence of negative feedback. If there have been areas where you’ve been asked to improve, you should be ready to address these comments, and the changes you’ve made. Don’t ask for a promotion if there are still performance issues you’re working on.
3. You’ve demonstrated a commitment to innovation and change.
Typically, those who are proactive in making changes and improvements to their job are ideal candidates for promotion. If on the other hand you haven’t changed anything about what you do, or how you do it, I would re-think the promotion idea. Assuming you have made changes, I would highlight those improvements that have either helped others do their jobs better, or those that have allowed you to be more efficient, giving you time to go beyond your basic tasks. Hopefully you’ve used this time wisely by getting involved in special projects and other initiatives that you can draw your supervisor’s attention to.
4. You’re a team player
In your pitch you need to highlight with specific examples how you’ve been a positive, contributing member to the office culture, and a person that others can trust and depend on. If you can’t think of any examples, then you have a problem.
5. You know what you want
And finally, when you’re asking for a promotion, you should be very clear what it is you want to do next. Don’t be vague or obtuse. Be clear and concise about the job you want and why you’d be successful at it. Your supervisor doesn’t want to guess what is you have in mind. They will take your request much more seriously if you are specific. If there isn’t a natural next position for you then that presents a whole new issue, which I will address below.
If you can address all five of the above with strong, specific examples, then you’re on very solid ground in asking for a promotion and you should feel very confident in your position. Those voices in your head are just noise and shouldn’t be listened to. You deserve it and your supervisor will know it.
If on the other hand you had some difficulty answering any of the above, then I would listen to those voices. You clearly have some work to do, but the good news is that you now know what it is you need to focus on.
As mentioned above, if it’s clear that you deserve a promotion, but there’s no natural next position, I suggest you address this with your supervisor in an honest, straightforward manner. Often this means that you may have to move on to another company to keep your career moving forward. If this is the case, your supervisor can often be very helpful in helping you determine your next step.