How to Prepare to Ask for a Promotion

If you haven’t already, I’d suggest you check out my post on How to Get Promoted. There I share why thinking about a promotion in a pandemic is not a bad idea (there’s a perfectly logical reason, I promise). Now let’s get to it…

No man is an island, so if you think you’ll land a promotion solely based on your performance, think again. From team results, to approval hierarchy and company values, there will be a long list of people involved in the final decision. Yes, that’s right, it’s not just about your line manager (unless they are the CEO, but even then, there will be a board of sorts…). So what does this mean? It’s pretty simple: it means you will need to look at promotion with a holistic approach if you want to take the next step in your career. 

Here are 3 essentials when it comes to preparing to ask for a promotion:

  • 1. Results – no matter what department you work in, results are always an important part of the job. If you’re asking for a promotion, make sure to have clear achievements to show your progression within the role, your contribution to the company and the value you could bring with additional responsibilities. You want to be able to show that your results were:
    • Consistent – please remember you should aim for a minimum of 9 months to 1 year. 
    • Relevant – to your role and the objectives of the team/business overall. 
    • Impactful – not all will be, but make sure you have a few projects to clearly showcase your impact.
  • Reputation – this links back to remembering that the final decision doesn’t just sit with your line manager. Having built a good reputation within the business and with key stakeholders, will help you to support your request. Make sure you make time for regular catch ups with colleagues across different departments, that you get involved with companywide initiatives in whatever capacity you can and that you build a good relationship with your manager’s boss. The latter doesn’t mean to start scheduling regular coffees or go out of your way to impress them, just make sure you take the opportunity to connect when there is one and don’t be shy. A brilliant woman once reminded me that often it is us who build invisible hierarchy rules. Things that you can share to support this are:
    • Projects you have been involved with at company level that aren’t part of your job role.
    • Feedback received from stakeholders (you can ask for some ahead, but also make sure you create a ‘success’ folder where you can save positive feedback)
  • Timing – this is everything, but perhaps not in the way you think. As I mentioned in my previous article on getting promoted, you can’t create the perfect timing to ask for a promotion. What you can do however, is making the most out of the information that you have available to make sure you ask for a promotion and/or pay increase at the best time possible. Start with:
    • Finding out when salary increases are usually discussed at your company (ask your manager, your HR advisor or check your company intranet) 
    • Plan a progression and salary review chat with your manager far in advance (use your yearly conversation if easier to get it in). 
    • Make a habit of discussing your progression with your manager frequently, so that they are aware of your ambition and needs (this doesn’t mean asking for a pay rise at every weekly catch up, but you can make sure they know the progress you’re making by sharing your results, your wins and any training you’ve been completing).

These are some initial things to think about and start working on if you’re planning to ask for a promotion. There will be specific things related to your department and role that may be also important to prepare, so make sure you have a think about those. 

One last thing, because I wish someone had told me when I was starting out: your promotion is something that YOU should be driving. Your manager should support your requests and encourage you to progress, but it’s not their job to develop your career. And to be honest, even if it was, would you ever want someone else to be responsible for something so personal and important?

Hope this was useful and good luck with your prep!

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