Hey, Where's My Promotion?

Businessman climbing ladder
Businessman climbing ladder

Do you feel like you are the only one that gets passed over for promotions? Why did the guy at the next desk get his and not me?

Believe it or not, this feeling wafts through the atmosphere at companies every day. How do you break the cycle of feeling "I've been left behind!"

There are many reasons why some people seem to get on the track to consistently being promoted, and some do not. There are steps you can take, though, that will give you a better opportunity to get that next promotion. Here are some to consider:

First, determine how you can work smarter, not just longer, than anyone else. Working smarter means using time wisely, knowing which activities will yield measureable results, which have a profile with your co-workers. In other words, how can you put your efforts where what you do will be recognized by peers and bosses as providing leadership and getting results.

Second, do you have both responsibility and authority to accomplish your assignments? What are the limits of each? If you are stuck in a job that has responsibility to get things done but no authority to make decisions on how to accomplish results, discuss with your boss or team leader how you can earn authority. What this takes is trust. Determine how you can earn that trust.

When I headed USA Network, I would often assemble a task force to address a specific challenge. People could volunteer to be on the task force as long as they had some insight into the challenge to be solved. Often the volunteers came from different levels within the company.

What I thought was interesting was who would take leadership for solving the challenge. It wasn't often the most senior person, but rather the person who had the most interest in tackling the issue. It gave me new insight into the leadership traits of different people, something I kept in mind for future promotions.

Third, start to build your case for wanting to take on more authority. Discuss with your boss ways in which you can earn the leadership skills and authority to manage others. Make clear your interest in growing within the organization. Are there training courses the company makes available for you to grow your own skills. Earning a promotion is not a sometime activity, or a once a year conversation.

Fourth, learn to manage up. Getting promoted is not just a result of managing people reporting to you, It is a matter of how you manage people to whom you are reporting. You might ask, "How do I do that?" It is very much a skill that requires EQ as well as IQ. Being able to present solutions to your boss before they are asked for is one way to manage up. As you practice this skill, you will find other ways to provide value above the basic requirements of your job.

Earning a promotion is a continuous activity and should be viewed just like earning anything else, that college degree, even friendships. It's a reward earned and deserved over time.