Not Moving Up? Five Reasons You Haven’t Been Promoted

Career Ladder

You are a top performer at your company and you have the numbers and praise to back it up. So, why are you not getting that promotion you so desperately want and deserve?

Unfortunately, this happens all too often. At companies both big and small, people who are smart, ambitious and really good at what they do feel like they are stuck, not having the skills, tools, or advice they need to get to the next level.

The Daily Muse, a website offering advice for individuals at every level of the career ladder, recently held a live hour-long webinar titled 5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Promoted (and What You Can Do About It).

The truth is, no one at work will really tell you exactly how to get promoted; therefore you have to take matters into your own hands. The webinar, hosted by The Daily Muse’s career expert and Editor-in-Chief Adrian Granzella, spoke to the fact that you have more power than you think if you are in this predicament. Yes, your boss ultimately has the power to give you the job that you want. But you are not at his or her mercy. It is your responsibility to figure out what it takes to get to the next level, communicate that to your boss and do it. So why don’t employees get promoted?

1. You Don’t Have the Skills You Need to Get to the Next Level

The skills that are required for your current job may be very different from the skills required for that next level. Look around the company to see whom currently holds that position and what kind of skills they have. You will need exposure to these skills and gain them yourself if you are ever going to hold this position. Looking at the job description is also a good indicator of the skills you will need to land the position.

Meredith KovarikWhen Jabil’s former Senior Manager of Supply Chain, Meredith Kovarik, wanted to gain insight into what it would take to advance to the director level, she had an open discussion with her manager, Jonathan Madigan, Senior Director of Supply Chain Management. “The most important thing for me was to sit down with my boss and understand what was holding me back from moving to the next level,” said Kovarik. “After understanding my gaps, it was up to me to determine what specific actions I needed to take.”

2. You Don’t Have the Other Stuff You Need to Get to the Next Level

It is no longer enough to be a functional expert. To complement your unique core competencies, there are certain “soft skills” that companies look for. Soft skills refer to personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that make someone a good employee and compatible to work with. Communicating with executives, leading big meetings, rallying teams and the ability to make connections are just some of the nebulous soft skills required for moving up in an organization. Again, look at those with the job you want and see what soft skills they have that you can emulate.

3. You Think Like an Employee, Not a Leader

Showing that you are committed to both the department and company, and not just your personal career, is crucial. Prove that you care about Jon Madiganthe company by not waiting to be told what to do. Ensure that the entire department is succeeding by assisting your co-workers with their projects, something that Kovarik consistently demonstrated.  “Meredith invests a huge amount of energy and time into getting a task delivered through her own actions and through the actions of her team,” said Madigan. “She is a leader, a teacher, a technical resource and a motivational manager.”

When a problem arises, present it to your boss with possible solutions that you would like to try. Look out for the big picture and show your boss that you are not just thinking about you.

4. No One Knows You are Great at Your Job

Even if you are working hard, completing everything in your job description and doing it really well, if your boss has a lot of direct reports, he or she may not be paying attention to what or how you are doing. Therefore, communicate to your boss that you want more and can handle more. Communicate what you have been working on, your results, any client feedback and how you have improved.

5. No One Knows You

Despite performing your job function really well, if you are not taking the extra step and making sure that other people in the organization know what you are doing, it could cost you a promotion. There is probably someone else, besides your boss that would need to sign off on your promotion. Think about who these people are and ways you can impress them.

“For me personally, gaining exposure in the organization means never saying ‘no’ to an opportunity to take on additional responsibility, regardless of whether or not it came with an immediate increase in title or pay,” said Kovarik. “Doing this allowed me to interact with a lot of groups and individuals that normally I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to.”

What Next?

Schedule a meeting with your boss, your mentor, or an individual who currently holds your desired role. Let them know that you want to move up and would like to pick their brain to see what you need to do to get there. Ask questions like:

  • What types of skills should I be working on?
  • Are there any classes or trainings I should take?
  • Who should I be getting to know better?
  • What’s been helpful for your career advancement?

Next, create your professional development plan. Madigan worked closely with Kovarik to create an actionable development plan, which ultimately came to fruition this September when Kovarik was promoted to Director of Supply Chain.

Put this plan on paper and make it an actionable document. Refer to it every week or so to make sure you stay on track.  When creating your development plan, ask yourself:

  • What are two to three skills that I need to develop specifically?
  • How will I get them?
  • How can I step up my game at work?
  • How will I share my accomplishments with those who should know?
  • Who do I need to know and impress?

Finally, decide when you will ask for this promotion as selecting a date will keep you motivated. Remember that having these conversations isn’t always easy. But if you want that promotion, it is crucial to take these steps. You are in charge of your career and if your job is not panning out as you would like, it is up to you to take action.

Missed the webinar? Watch it here.

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