The Real Reason You Haven’t Gotten a Promotion at Work

The other day I met up with my buddy Moe for lunch and we talked a lot about work.  He’s been feeling very frustrated at his job lately and he really needed to vent and let off some steam.

Moe has been stuck in the same position for three years and he hasn’t even gotten a sniff of a promotion.  He feels unappreciated and taken for granted and it is starting to affect his motivation.  While he’s always been a solid worker, he admits that he’s starting to wonder why he even bothers trying so hard.

Moe is a good friend and I’ve known him a long time, so I had no problem asking him a point blank question that put him on the spot.

“What makes you so sure you actually deserve a promotion?”

His response was pretty much what I expected.  He’s been in the same role for several years, has more seniority than most of his co-workers, he’s always been reliable and punctual, rarely calls out sick, and his immediate manager loves him.

As someone who has received promotions at work and also been responsible for recommending others for promotions, I had to be brutally honest with Moe.

I told him that all the qualities he listed make him a great employee and it’s no wonder his boss loves him.  He’s reliable and does a good job and that’s something every manager values.

But being in your job for a long time and knowing how to do it well isn’t enough to get promoted.  Promotions aren’t about seniority (well I guess at some companies they could be), they’re about recognizing someone who is going above and beyond his current duties and demonstrating creativity, innovation, and a desire to advance.

You might think that being the worker who processes the most amount of work will get you promoted, but all that proves is that you’re a good worker bee.  If you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder you should focus some energy on solving problems or improving a process that will make everyone more productive.

Talk to your boss and ask him what some of his biggest challenges and frustrations are.  Can you think of a way to remove some of his headaches and make his job easier?  Odds are he’ll be very grateful if you can!

Take a closer look at some of the processes and procedures your team follows.  Can you think of something that everyone hates doing or that everyone agrees makes no sense?  Most companies start out with logical procedures but over time things become more complicated and what once made perfect sense now seems completely absurd.

Improving a process to make it more efficient will definitely get you noticed, especially if the improvement can be quantified like “My idea cut mailing expenses by 20 percent.”

Looking in the Mirror

If you’re looking for a promotion and haven’t been able to get one, it’s time to ask yourself if you’re really doing everything you can to reach your goal.  If not, schedule a 1 on 1 with your manager and let him know that you’re looking to take on more responsibility and be considered for a promotion.  Most bosses will be excited by your initiative and offer you plenty of suggestions on what you need to do to reach the next level.

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