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Ask an Expert CAREER ADVANCEMENT / JAN. 06, 2017
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What's the best way to ask my boss for a promotion?

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Dilemma:

How do I ask my boss for a promotion? I have been working for the same guy for six years, and when I started working for him, he promised he would give me more responsibilities that could lead to a managerial role. But now, it seems like he has forgotten all about it. Do I need to remind him?I don’t want to sound too desperate. After all of these years of work I think I deserve some kind of compensation. Is asking for a promotion a good idea? If so, what’s the best way of doing so?

Kyriaki says:

Pursuing a promotion is great because it is a sign that you care about your professional development. It also means that you are happy with your current employer as it expresses your willingness to take on more responsibilities or get more involved in management decisions.

To start off, you should know that when pursuing a promotion you can always ask your boss directly. But while this is a viable option, I suggest that you use this as a weapon of last resort. In the meantime, you can help him recognise your worth through your actions, not your words. Employers are more easily convinced through the actions that you take – or better yet, the milestones that you complete as well as the results that you bring to the table.

So, your chances of winning a promotion can be increased when:

You take the initiative more often

Climbing up the ladder requires adopting a can-do attitude and helping your boss out whenever possible. The best way to do this is to offer creative and practical solutions to problems that the company or the department you are working in is facing. You conduct your research and come up with a new idea to suggest, volunteer to take on a project, lead a group of people or anything else that can potentially make your boss’s job easier. Obviously, I am not saying that you need to become a complete suck-up just to get his approval because that would have the opposite effect. Just make sure that you are honest with yourself first and then decide how much you are willing to add to your workload.

You help out your colleagues

If it’s your goal to become a manager – or at least a valuable member of the management team, you have to act like one. This means that you have to be willing to help other people, answer their queries, support them in any way possible and offer them your feedback. Besides, you know what they say. Employees are the people who make up a company, and if they aren’t able to work as a team, this may affect the overall success of a business. Helping your colleagues is like helping your boss but in a more indirect way. Doing so will help you develop your leadership skills and that could add to your chances of becoming a successful manager.

You build on your knowledge

If you want to improve your work, you have to develop and constantly work on yourself. As such, it might be a good idea to find out what it takes to become a manager and what this position requires from you. Forget about the raise that may or may not come with the promotion, and focus on the abilities and the knowledge you need to equip yourself with to succeed. Also, make it your ultimate goal to learn more about the industry you are in. This should help you make more effective and realistic decisions concerning the work that you are responsible for.

After you have done this and have clearly shown some progress, you may want to talk with your boss. Let him know that you are after the promotion he promised you when you started your job, but make sure that you do it in a discrete way. For better results you will need to:

  • Think of the possibilities: Assess the financial health of your employer and figure out if your boss can give you the raise or promotion you ask for.
  • Think about the timing: Choose the right moment to talk to your boss, preferably when he is a good mood and he’s more likely to listen.
  • Go prepared: Think about what you are going to say and make a list of your achievements, focusing on your contributions since day 1. Come up with specific examples to show that you are the right person for the job.

In the worst case scenario where your boss refuses your request, you may need to:

  • Stay calm: this isn’t the end of the world, and you can still keep your current position.
  • Ask why you didn’t get the promotion: this should allow you to evaluate future opportunities with the company, and decide what the best course of action is.
  • Threaten to quit: this is a risky move, and you can only use it if you have an alternative choice e.g. another job waiting for you.

Nobody said that asking for a promotion is easy, but it’s not the hardest thing in the world. If you think that this is what you need in your career, then you should go for it. The real question is, do you have what it takes to get promoted? If yes, can you show that through your current job? When you can do that, you are ready to ask your boss for a promotion.

Once you decide to take the step, let me know how it turns out. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact us again if you need any additional help!

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