How NOT to Get Promoted

I often get asked, “How do I get promoted?” In my experience, the people who are focused on doing the “right things” and avoiding the “wrong things” are the ones that earn the promotions.

So how do you get to the next step in your career? Often we hear what we should do. But what we don’t do speaks volumes, too. Here are some common mistakes professionals make that prevent them from being promoted:

  1. Ask for a promotion.
    There’s a difference between sharing a desire for a promotion and asking for one. Asking for a promotion can work against you. It can appear as though you’re more concerned about yourself than others or the organization. Or you may even come across as being entitled. Typically the person who receives the promotion is an obvious choice and earned that right.
  1. Ask why someone else got promoted.
    It’s not easy watching others get promoted when you want to be, too. But how you handle their promotion matters. Asking about why they got promoted – instead of supporting them  can push you farther away from a promotion you desire. Leaders are not credit takers, and they care more about the organization as a whole than their own personal gain.

  2. Rest on what you know today.
    Not keeping your skills sharp is one of the fastest ways to pull yourself out of the running for a promotion. People can let themselves get old-school at age 30. It’s important to stay connected to the contemporary tools and continue to learn new skills. Promotions do not only focus on your past contributions, but how your skills align for the future.

  3. Focus only on processing.
    Quietly following or not being the go-to person can hurt your chances at a promotion. Your contributions may be vast. But those who receive promotions show confidence, take the lead and get results. Initiators usually get promoted ahead of processors.

  4. Focus only on your strengths.
    You have to understand yourself first to understand others better. That means knowing your strengths, but even more importantly, your weaknesses. Strengths often are where we focus our work. We naturally excel in certain areas and likely will get promoted into our strength areas. Not understanding your weaknesses can hold you back or prevent you from getting a promotion.

So if you are thinking about a promotion, consider not only the things you should be doing, but also what you should avoid. You could be doing many things right, but one wrong non-promotable behavior could impact whether or not you go to the next level. So keep your saw sharp, understand your weaknesses, play to your strengths and don’t be afraid to take the lead. You’ll put yourself in a better position for the next promotion.


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Topics: Leadership, Promotion, Professional Development