After spending a year or two at your job and feeling like you’re exceeding expectations, it’s only natural that you yearn for the next step. Promotions mean more responsibility, a chance to add value, and potentially more money in your bank account. But what happens when your boss is silent but you notice your co-workers change job titles on LinkedIn? Frustration starts to build while you wonder why you were passed up for the opportunity to grow. To get insight into the politics of promotions, We spoke with two human resource managers for the most common reasons why you may be overlooked for a promotion and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Issue: Perceived likability
“When promoting someone, giving them more responsibility and more time working with senior leadership, some companies think about the perception and likability within the greater group,” says Scheron Brown, HR professional and diversity specialist for Burson-Marsteller. “When approaching upon a supervisor or managerial role it is important that you do your work to the best of your ability, but be sure that people view you as a go-to-person or serious contributor.”
Solution: Become the Go-to-Person
“You can be an extremely effective ‘doer’ but you have to be so much more than that. Best way to rectify the situation is by stepping up and setting yourself up as an expert,” Brown says. “When you have the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and skill set, especially within a group setting you should capitalize on that. Don’t miss an opportunity to give ideas, share insight, and lead brainstorming sessions when it counts. You can also support ideas that are being shared, which will show you’re a team player.”
“Many people have the notion that if you keep your head down and do your work that it’s okay, but it doesn’t work that way. You need to be visible in your company,” says Lauren Cole, HR Manager at Hill+Knowlton Strategies. “You need to make sure you’re letting people know about your accomplishments. You have to be willing to talk about yourself and grab coffee with different people in the organization to build those relations. While getting to know your colleagues, you can understand different parts of the business and understand how your managers and your peers feel about you.”
Solution: Build Relationships
“For people who are looking to advance in their careers, it’s important to build strong relationships with direct managers, peers, and senior level people in the company. It’s good to have a company ally that can vouch for you and your work when you’re not in certain rooms,” Cole adds. “It’s important to foster relationships outside the organization, as well.” By building a strong network, you’ll have help along the way as you move along your career path.
Issue: Limited Resources
“People do expect promotions quicker than they did a few years ago,” Brown says. “Depending on the company it could be a limited resource pool. You may have five people in particular departments that you want to promote, but the budget doesn’t allow it and sometimes one person is held back from the promotion.”
Solution: Find the Right Time to Speak Up
“Be aware of the financial state of your company as much as possible. Keep your ear out for talks of layoffs, mergers, new leadership, and revenue performance to gage whether the company can afford to promote you. Timing is everything,” Cole insists. Keep in mind that you don’t know everything your company’s going through, and therefore it might be beyond your control whether you have a chance for promotion. “However, do keep track of your accomplishments so when money is available you can speak up and be heard,” Cole says.
Before you throw in the towel at work, think about these scenarios and implement ways to revive your presence at your company. Make sure to take your career in your own hands and look for other opportunities, if you feel your work is being undervalued.