You Better Ask For That Promotion (Here's How...)
Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Asking for a promotion can be one of the most nerve-wracking tasks of a person’s career. It's stressful and can leave you feeling vulnerable and way outside of your comfort zone. However, often times this is the only way to grow and ascend. The ones who climb to the top are often the same ones who understand that sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock, but rather must be pursued. I hold firm the belief that closed mouths don’t get fed, and we must continue to promote ourselves throughout our career.
That being said, there is an art to asking for what you believe you deserve. It’s less about proving yourself and more about proving the value of your contributions to the company, and how this new position will in enable you to contribute more and ultimately help the company grow.
Approaching this ask in a tactical manner as opposed to simply voicing your opinions of entitlement may be the difference between getting the promotion and getting overlooked. Here are a few reliable tips that serve as thoughtful tools for compelling your leadership to see your value and reward you accordingly.
Consider where you stand within the company. Do you have a good rapport with your leadership team? If not, you may want to build that bridge before making this request. Where you recently disciplined? If so, perhaps confirm that you have regained your credibility and fully recovered from whatever it was that caused you to be seen in a negative light.
Build a case for yourself.
During these moments of reflection, begin to create a list of evidence-based thoughts as to why you deserve this promotion. The more tangible, the better, especially if you can prove a direct impact on your company’s bottom line. Prepare a memo or one-pager detailing your accomplishments and contributions to the company and have it in hand when you go in for the meeting. Lay this out in a format that would be appreciated by the decision-makers you are approaching, and print off extra copies if you can – a leave-behind is never a bad idea!
Consider the variables.
It is important to consider factors outside of your control when you are approaching your leadership to ask for a promotion. Timing is major; if the company is experiencing fiscal or other kinds of hardship, now may not be the time to ask for more. Is there a business need for the role you are asking for? Proving that will strengthen your case. And finally, consider the structure of your company: will this new role help or hinder the roles of others? How will this change affect your colleagues? Make a point of resolving these questions and addressing them in your promotion pitch.
Consider plating seeds with your leadership team as opposed to simply taking one shot. Have casual conversations that will allow you to learn more about what the company needs, what’s coming down the pipeline, and how it all relates to the promotion you are proposing. Perhaps it’s not one meeting, but a series of conversations that get your first in the door and help you advance. And don’t expect an answer right away! Perhaps now is not the time for you, but at least you’ve put the bug in the ears of leadership that you are passionate about and committed to growing within the company.
Be careful with dropping the other offer card.
This tactic can be as risky as it is effective, and you never want your leadership to misconstrue this as a threat or an ultimatum. I’ve seen many cases in which dropping this card at the wrong time has resulted in the diminished reputation of the employee asking for the promotion and has even led to dismissal. Don’t play games; if you genuinely wish to stay at your company but have been given a better offer somewhere else, share that information and ask for something that’s fair. And don’t be too naïve to think your industry isn’t small… executives often run in the same networks, so it’s never a good idea to bluff in this instance.
Overall, don’t be discouraged at any stage of the game! Even if the answer is initially no, it never hurts to demonstrate tenacity and a commitment to growth. And once you do land the potion you’ve been working toward, be prepared to level up and work harder than ever!
Hi! I'm Tiffany Yarde, author of "How to Wine With Your Boss." I've got tons of opinions on humanity, economics, upward mobility, and good wine. Like what you've read? Please share on social media!