I’m sharing a guest blog that offers first-hand experience on earning a promotion.
– Coach Wolfgang

employee-sad-promotionIn the movie, Unforgiven, staring Clint Eastwood, one of my favorite lines comes near the end.  Just before Gene Hackman’s character meets his demise he says, “I don’t deserve this! To die like this.”  Clint Eastwood’s character responds with “Deserve has got nothing to do with it.”

Recently, I was at a point in my career where I felt that I deserved a promotion. I had been a loyal employee, rarely complained, often worked 50 or 60 hours per week, created lasting results.  Plus, I had been in the same position for 4 years and in that time my responsibilities expanded substantially.  Inevitably, I also viewed co-workers who were above me in the org chart but not nearly as productive.  I went through a number of “phases” in dealing with my emotions:

  • If I’m not getting a promotion, then I’m only working 40 hours per week, no more!
  • If I don’t get a promotion by year end then I’m going to start really looking for a new job!
  • I’m going to work my butt off for the next 3 weeks and then ask for a promotion in my quarterly review. There’s no way they’ll say “no”!

As you can see, each of these phases were fairly emotional (note all the exclamation points!) but none were very productive. When I thought about it, I realized that none of these plans were responses that would lead to a promotion. Since that time, I settled down and realized that there are 3 reactions when you feel that you deserve a promotion but aren’t getting it.

Make your case

The first step in a promotion is to communicate what you are looking for. Tell your boss exactly what you want and state your reasons why you feel you have earned it. Also, let your network know – especially at work – that you are interested in a higher-level role.

That’s getting the word out. If you really want a promotion then you need to make your case. I see two ways of doing this. First, start doing the job of the next role up. This probably includes solving problems at your job and figuring out how to do things better. When you start making an impact, your boss will notice. Plus, you’ll have very good results to show during your reviews.

The second way is to ask your boss to help you create a plan to be in a position to get a promotion. Ask him or her what transition you need to make to be at the next level and what initiatives would show him or her that you are ready. Show your own initiative by presenting your own ideas. Let your boss know that you are genuinely motivated to contribute in bigger ways to the team. At the same time, let your boss know that are expecting a promotion at some point and ask if doing these initiatives will make that happen. You won’t get a guarantee but just make sure you are producing and your boss knows that you want a promotion.

Move on

If not getting a promotion is consuming your thoughts everyday then you may want to move on. WORD OF CAUTION: move to a different role because it will boost your career, not because it will feel good to spurn your current employer.

Look for a new job because your current one is holding you back. If your current job doesn’t challenge you enough, doesn’t utilize your skills sufficiently or doesn’t pay you fairly, then decide to move on for those reasons. First get rid of the resentment you feel towards your employer and think about what your next career step should be. Knowing your next step may actually enable you to have a much different conversation with your current employer about how you can contribute in different ways.

Appreciate what you have

If you don’t have any good career-related reasons for leaving your current job, you may want to try something very different… gratitude. Write down all the things you like about this job. The team rapport, short commute, the snack closet, the easy Fridays, an engaging new project, etc. Use this list to help you see all the reasons to stay at your current job.

This may help you also see things that would make you like the job more. Many times, I see a list of things I’d like to do on job descriptions at other companies. Are there ways you can incorporate those items into your job? You can achieve peace of mind by saying aloud the reasons that you like your job. You can even make your job more fulfilling by incorporating new ideas and challenges.

Many times, promotions and salary increases are just not an option for your boss to give you. It shouldn’t stop you from finding ways to enjoy the job you have nor from positioning yourself today for opportunities that may show up further down the road. One thing is for sure: career development is important and good opportunities will arise.

I would love to hear in the comments if you too have felt this way, ever, and how you reacted. Were you successful? Please comment below.


, ‘Deserve’ has nothing to do with getting a promotion

Amy Wolfgang

Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.

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