Do you wonder why you’re not getting promoted at work? Keep in mind that there are a lot of different explanations to consider.
It’s only natural to want to move up within your company. However, being with an organization for a certain length of time doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a promotion. And, doing an excellent job doesn’t always mean you’ll be offered a new and better title, either.
There are lots of reasons why you might not be getting that promotion that you feel you deserve. Here are a few possibilities to consider.
1. The company isn’t doing well
It’s easy to take things personally at work. But, it’s not always fair or accurate to do so. When a company isn’t doing well, for example, management might not feel they’re in a position to promote anyone, regardless of their dedication or work performance.
Take a good look around and think about how your company is doing. If the business isn’t doing well, that could very well be the reason you aren’t being promoted. Is the company expanding? Or, are they just trying to stay afloat? Are your coworkers being promoted? Or, are some of them moving on to other companies?
The fact that you aren’t moving up could say more about the company than it does about you.
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2. You haven’t earned it
There are some common misconceptions about earning a promotion, especially among younger workers. A study from InsideOut Development, which was reported on by Forbes, found that 76 percent of Generation Z workers (ages 18-23) believe they should be promoted within the first year of starting their first job. And, 32 percent think they will deserve that promotion within the first six months.
But, it takes more than time to earn a promotion. It isn’t guaranteed just because you’ve been in the same position for a few months or even a few years. It’s not like moving on to the next grade in school after a certain amount of time and progress. In order to be promoted, you have to show the company that you’d be a better asset to them in a different position.
You don’t move up the ranks because of seniority, attendance or even competence. You move up because you prove to the company that it’s in their best interest to promote you. If you haven’t earned a promotion (which takes time, as well as exceptional performance) you usually won’t receive one.
3. You’ve outgrown the company
Times have changed. These days, it isn’t always best to stay with a company from graduation to retirement. In fact, there are some hidden rewards of “job hopping” that you really ought to know about. For example, changing jobs every so often can help you earn more. Annual raises tend to be standardized and fairly fixed. You might earn three or four percent more each year. But, if you change jobs, you could end up with a much more significant increase.
Similarly, there may be times where you reach a point when you’ve outgrown your current company. You may be ready for the next step, a more challenging and rewarding position. But, perhaps your organization isn’t ready for you.
There are some key indicators that you’ve outgrown your company that you can, and should, keep in mind. Namely, if you aren’t given opportunities to learn and grow, or if you no longer feel aligned with the company’s values, it could mean that it’s time to move on. Perhaps you aren’t being promoted because your next best step is to look elsewhere for your next job.
4. They don’t know you’re interested
It might seem obvious to you that you’d like to be promoted. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s obvious to your boss. One potential reason you aren’t moving up in your company is that the higher-ups don’t know that you’re interested in doing so.
Clearly communicating your goals and ambitions is one of the most important things you can do for your career. And, it’s ultimately good for the organization, too.
“Sharing your goals with your boss may seem like a risky proposition, but with thought it can provide you with greater opportunity and a stronger relationship with your manager,” said Elaine Varelas, managing partner at the career management firm Keystone Partners, speaking with Fast Company. “This can also add employee retention value to the company, as employees usually stay longer with a company that shows it is willing to invest in its workforce’s development.”
Take advantage of opportunities to talk with your boss about your future regularly. Annual review season can sometimes offer an occasion for this. Remember that you need to inform you boss about your plans and ambitions. Don’t assume that your desired path is obvious.
5. You lack the requisite skills
Time spent with an organization can’t make up for lack of qualifications. You shouldn’t expect to be offered a job when you don’t possess the skills that it requires. Even if you’re doing a fantastic job in your current position, you can’t move up unless you can do the job.
If you are being passed over for a promotion, take some time to really investigate the requirements of the job you want. Think about which skills you need to improve in order to meet those requirements. Then, determine how you can go about obtaining them. Do you need to take a class? Can you work toward building those abilities on the job in some way? Finding ways to develop the skills the job you want requires can help put you on the path to promotion.
6. You lack emotional intelligence
Being in a leadership position requires more than just proficiency with the work itself. Managers also need to be good with people. If you aren’t getting promoted, it could be because you aren’t flexing your emotional intelligence muscles enough.
Folks who are excellent at handling their own emotions, and the emotional ups and downs of others (coworkers, clients, etc.) are a huge asset for any company. However, workers who are emotionally unpredictable or easily overwhelmed or aggravated, for example, can feel like more of a liability.
Even if you’re great at your job, you could be passed over for a promotion if you haven’t shown your capabilities in the realm of emotional intelligence. These days, soft skills like emotional intelligence are often a key for getting ahead professionally. So, focus on developing these skills if you’re serious about your career.
7. You aren’t taking credit
If you aren’t being promoted, and you can’t figure out why, make a point to take a step back. Keep in mind that being promoted doesn’t just happen because you doing a great job. It happens because those who have the power to promote you realize that you’ve been doing a great job and that you’re ready for what’s next.
Are you being given the credit you deserve for your work? Sometimes, it’s easy for efforts to go unnoticed when you’re a part of a team. This is especially true if you aren’t super comfortable singing your own praises.
Start by keeping something of an inventory of your accomplishments. If you land a new account, record it. If you revise a proposal in a way that helps resolve a stubborn problem, write that down, too. This will help you get a better handle on your contributions. Then, when you have occasion to mention these accomplishments to your boss or manager, do so. If something comes up in passing, let them know that you enjoyed being involved and that you were excited about your contribution. You might also bring your list to your next performance review or negotiation meeting.
You can’t get promoted until relevant parties understand the weight and significance of your contribution to the company in your current position. So, be sure to let them know.
8. You’re not independent enough
If you need reminders once in a while in order to get the job done in your current position, you aren’t likely to be promoted. Your manager shouldn’t have to ask you to do something more than once or hound you in order to get you to meet deadlines. Independent, organized self-starters are offered promotions, not folks who struggle to manage their current responsibilities.
There are certain things you can do to demonstrate this type of competence. For example, write things down when you’re given instructions rather than trusting that you’ll remember everything. This helps to show that you’re responsible and independent enough to move up the ranks.
“We hate having to tell you things over and over,” one boss told The Muse. “No boss should ever have to go over directions more than once. If you don’t understand the direction when it’s being given, clarify right then and there and take good notes instead of depending on your memory.”
9. You’re not open to feedback and criticism
It takes a certain kind of strength to work in a leadership position. One way to demonstrate that you’re ready is to show that you have the ability to take constructive feedback and criticism. This is a key to improving your skills and abilities, as difficult as it might be.
If you really love your work, you’ll want to do the best job possible. This means that you wont just accept feedback, you’ll actually welcome it. Folks who have this kind of attitude and approach to their own growth send an awesome message to those in charge. They show that they’re excited to learn and they’re confident enough in who they are to accept feedback and criticism. That’s the kind of employee who secures a promotion.
10. You don’t really want it
Promotions aren’t something that just happens automatically. Staying in a job for a long time won’t earn you one. And, just doing a great job might not, either. There are a lot of moving pieces to consider here. But, there’s one piece you might not have examined: Perhaps you don’t really want to be promoted.
Maybe you’re content in your current job. Or, maybe you aren’t motivated to put in the time and effort required to move up the ladder. Maybe you aren’t being promoted because you don’t want to be, not because you can’t be. When you’re ready for what’s next, you’ll put in the work that it requires. Until then, as long as you feel content in your role, there’s nothing wrong with staying put.
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