What to Do If You Don’t Get Promoted

Five Steps to Get You Back on Track

A Gallup survey estimates that replacing an employee can cost up to two times that person’s annual salary. While many leaders are aware of this potential hit to their bottom line, they still lag in recognizing and promoting employees from within the organization. If you’re on the receiving end of this disconnect between best practices and reality, there are proactive steps you can take to get back on track if you’ve been overlooked for a promotion.

We’ve all been there. And when I say “we,” I speak from personal experience. It’s hard not to feel the roller coaster of emotions and start blaming external factors or people for not getting the promotion you hoped for. Rather than fall into the blame-game trap, try these steps that are within your control.

  1. Get clarity – Before you let yourself feel slighted, ask yourself if you have clarity about what that promotion would have accomplished within your larger career aspirations. Would this move have genuinely put you on the path toward your why? Knowing your why is critical because all your decisions should pass the “why test.” I like the quote “The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day you learn your why.” Revisiting your purpose and mission for your life will give you that clarity you need before moving on to the next steps.
  2. Talk with your boss – A Robert Half study revealed that a surprising 40 percent of employees don’t want to talk about their careers with managers due to fear of rejection, fear of the truth, poor self-image, and other reasons. No matter whether you fall within this group or outside of it, communicate your desires and wishes to your boss. Advocate for yourself. Ask them what skills and experience you need. Even more critical, ask your boss for regular feedback and tough love moving forward. Tip: Look for the unspoken takeaways in these conversations. What your boss doesn’t say is just as important as what they do say, and those omissions will give you a real sense of whether they’re with you or not.
  3. Complete an honest assessment – Identify a coach or human resource colleague to help you with identifying and completing a self-evaluation tool to reveal skill gaps that may not have been brought to your attention anecdotally. Ask your boss, one peer, and one of your direct reports to complete the assessment. If you don’t have any direct reports, consider a colleague who works regularly with you. Remember, feedback is a gift. Sure, it may cause you to feel a little exposed, but try to hear it in the spirit of growth and advancement.
  4. Develop a plan – As you review the input from people around you, make a list of the common themes that surface from each of the assessments. If someone mentions a potential growth area that the others don’t, consider these outliers for your second phase of personal development. Prioritize the common themes and consider the best approach for each skill. For example, some suggestions might be competencies you can address with an online course, while others may be more meaningfully addressed if you seek out a mentor. Look at your options and enlist human resources if they’re available to you.
  5. Make an impact – “If you aren’t moving up every three years, there’s a problem,” says ZipRecruiter CEO and cofounder Ian Siegel. While this generalization may not apply to your company’s ecosystem of professional growth, it’s a good reminder to take stock of how long senior leaders in your organization stay in their positions before moving up or on. The key is to make an impact in your current position so you’re optimizing that promotion timeline. Overdeliver on results. Ensure that you have the definition of success for your job in writing, and develop a plan with your team and business partners to surpass expectations. Track your results daily if necessary.

Bonus step – Stay woke to the biggest challenges your company encounters. Find ways to separate yourself from the pack by researching and understanding the landscape where your company operates. Explore avenues that help you run toward those challenges so you can assist with solving them. Lending your help above and beyond your job description will demonstrate your leadership skills and attract attention.

The common thread among these strategies beyond gaining clarity is really about externalizing your approach and controlling what’s within your power to control. It takes courage to tell your boss “I’m interested in being promoted within the next year or two. Can we talk about how to reach that goal?” But a little courage goes a long way. People respond well to humility when it comes from a genuine place. Plus, asking how you can improve helps the company and sends a message to the leadership. Keep that thought in the forefront of your mind as you make plans for a promotion that aligns with your why.

About the Author

As president of Comcast’s West Division for 11 years, Steve White created a culture defined by the philosophy of “Working Together to Win Together.” Driven by continuous learning, radical responsibility, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, Steve was responsible for all Comcast Cable operations in the Western U.S., leading nearly 30,000 employees, serving over 11 million customers, and driving annual revenue of nearly $18 billion. Today, Steve applies the same winning philosophy to his new post as president and special counsel to the CEO of Comcast Cable. Steve is the author of Uncompromising: How an Unwavering Commitment to Your Why Leads to an Impactful Life and Lasting Legacy. Learn more at www.stevewhitespeaks.com


Exit mobile version