How To Get Promoted (And How To Decline A Promotion)

Picture by: Kristina Evstifeeva

For many of us, getting a promotion is a sign that our hard work is being acknowledged. Not only this, but a promotion can be extremely rewarding, like winning your very own Oscar! 

“I would like to thank my boss and my colleagues for their endless support.” 

A promotion very often goes hand in hand with a raise, but with this comes extra responsibilities. A new job can involve a bigger workload, tighter deadlines and added pressure. In this article we will outline six key points on how to secure a promotion and how to talk to your manager if you don’t feel you’re ready to step up. 

1 I want to be promoted: the 6 best ways to show you’re ready  

1 Make your boss aware of your hard work 

If you’re looking to get promoted, it’s important that your boss is aware of the good work you’re producing. Even though it may seem obvious to you, your boss most likely has a large number of tasks on their to-do list, and this means your efforts can sometimes be overlooked. So when you do produce high-quality work, it’s always good to bring it to their attention.

Give your manager regular updates, even if they don’t specifically ask for them. Be sure that they’re aware of your progress, keeping them up to date with the projects you’ve completed and how you’re hitting your objectives. This can be through a weekly or monthly email, or even face to face if you have the option to stop by their office.  

2 Network effectively

Sometimes who you know can be equally as important as what you know. 

Utilize your network and integrate with people in the workplace. I’m not saying you have to go for drinks with your colleagues every night, but it’s always good to keep up a good relationship with those in your team and throughout the company. 

If your team thinks highly of you and you demonstrate team spirit, this could be just another factor that supports your boss’s decision to promote you. 

Additionally, someone in your network could have a close relationship with your manager and put in a good word for you, so make sure to express how you’re hoping for a promotion in the near future. 

3 Find a mentor

Try to find a mentor within your company. Ideally your mentor would be someone with experience who has worked in the company for a long time and is trusted by management.   

A 2004 survey conducted by Allen TD et al, showed that four out of five employees who were promoted had a mentoring relationship with someone higher in the company. 

Researchers also analyzed forty-three studies comparing various career outcomes of mentored and non-mentored employees. Overall they found that employees with a mentor were more likely to: 

  • Receive higher compensation
  • Receive a greater number of promotions
  • Feel more satisfied with their career

Just as Harry Potter found Dumbledore, find your mentor!  

4 Create a bond with your manager

Not only will having a good relationship with your manager make your work life easier, but it will also increase your chances of getting promoted. 

Try to establish a trust-based relationship, showing them your reliability and loyalty. Your boss is more likely to promote someone who they view as a great collaborator and loyal employee, rather than someone who they seldom interact with.  

5 Be prepared to ask 

If you think you deserve a promotion, don’t be afraid to ask for it! However, similar to asking for a raise, you want to make sure you’re prepared with facts and figures to back up your point.  

Have a detailed outline of all the reasons why you deserve this promotion. Words alone are not enough, show them the evidence.

Put forward your figures, successful projects and highlight your achievements.

In short, be your own lawyer: Demonstrate why you should be promoted and how this promotion would not only benefit you and your team, but also the company.  

Your manager may ask you, “Why should I promote you over your colleagues? What makes you more eligible than them?” 

This can be a bit of a trick question. When discussing your reasoning as to why you deserve a promotion, it’s not good to use your colleagues’ failures as a way to highlight your success. 

Don’t put yourself forward by devaluating the work of your colleagues. 

Not only can this strategy belittle your co-workers, but it can easily backfire and give the impression you’re unable to support a team by not empathizing with your co-workers.

If your manager ever does ask you a question similar to this, continue to highlight your achievements, rather than talk down your colleagues. Everyone is different, and comparing yourself to your colleagues may stifle your chances of a promotion, rather than enhance them.

6 Ask for more responsibility 

Ask for more responsibility. Even if your boss doesn’t have any extra work for you at that moment, it will demonstrate your willingness to take on more challenging tasks and show that you’re capable of handling a big workload. 

What if my manager says no? 

Even after outlining all the reasons why you deserve this promotion, there’s a chance your manager may still say no. If this does happen, show your professionalism by reacting in a mature manner. Try to create a constructive dialogue, asking your boss the reasons behind their choice and what you can do to improve.

To help keep the ball rolling, you could also ask to arrange a meeting further down the line to  discuss your progress.  

“I’m going to take your feedback on board and continue to work on the areas where I can improve. It would be great if we could review this again in a couple months time. What do you think?”  

However, if you’ve worked for a specific company for years and see no way to progress internally, then you may want to find another company who offers more opportunities to move forward. 

2 What if I don’t want to be promoted? 

You also have the right to decline a promotion! 

Maybe you feel you’re not ready, or you like your job the way it is, or you simply don’t want the extra responsibility. 

When offered the opportunity of a promotion, many employees are afraid to decline. They worry their refusal will disappoint their manager and potentially affect their career in the long run. 

If you do find yourself in this situation, be sure to explain the reasoning behind your decision and demonstrate how your choice is in the company’s best interest. Below are some hints and tips on the best way to decline a promotion. 

For example, if your promotion requires you to manage a team: 

Avoid saying you don’t want the extra responsibility of managing a team. Despite this being a very valid reason, it could be viewed as an inability to take on more challenging roles or a lack of motivation.

Instead, you could offer an alternative perspective, saying: 

“I believe my strong set lies more within the technical side of my job. I feel I work well in my current position and staying in this role would be a better choice for the company. I wouldn’t want to compromise the team dynamic by taking on a role that I don’t think utilizes my strengths.” 

By clearly explaining your reasoning, you highlight your strengths and where you feel your skills are best suited, while also staying professional and demonstrating a mature mindset. 

3 What  if I want to be promoted, but not yet? 

If you’re offered a promotion but feel like now just isn’t the right time, be transparent with your manager about this. Explain how the promotion is an area you’d like to pursue, but currently, you don’t feel like it would be the right move for you professionally. 

However, you may hear, “It’s now or never. In a few months time, there’s no guarantee the position will still be available.” 

And people around you may not understand your decision. You might hear things like “You have to say yes!” “You can’t miss this opportunity!” “Think about how this could affect your career!” 

If this is the case, don’t let it influence your decision if now isn’t the right time for you. Always trust your own feelings and go with your gut. 

Those around won’t be the ones working in the job everyday, it’ll be you. We are all different, so it’s important to trust yourself and your feelings. You’re the only one who knows what’s really best for you. 

It’s okay to question where and when you’d like to go in your career, and not to be scared to go against what the ‘right’ decision might look like on paper. It’s always important to stand your ground and listen to your intuition when deciding the next move in your career 🙂

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