Your big new promotion is wonderful news. You definitely deserve your new, supersized salary and juicy executive perks.
You didn’t get a big new promotion?
Well, there’s no reason for that. Or maybe there is.
Meet Gina Belli.
Belli is the author of “10 Reasons You’re Not Getting Promoted,” a recent post on PayScale’s website. I don’t have space for all 10 reasons, but let’s reason together on five and see if we can find out exactly what — outside of your poisonous attitude, meager accomplishments and miniscule level of commitment to company goals — is holding you back.
No. 1: The company is not doing well.
“It’s easy to take things personally at work,” Belli writes, but the problem may lie with the company, not you.
“Take a good look around,” she suggests, “and think about how your company is doing.”
A good look is a good idea. You certainly can’t believe the hooey management spouts. They’ll be talking about booming revenues from expanding markets right up until the repo men arrive to haul off the Aeron chairs.
I recommend you pay attention to the subtle clues. Does office services expect you to make your own printer ink out of leftover coffee grounds? Have the brand-name candy bars in the vending machines been replaced with sorghum bars and broccoli chips?
These subtle signs suggest it’s lifeboat time on Mahogany Row. The company is in no position to promote anyone. In other words, management is just as muddleheaded and the company is just as doomed as you’ve always thought.
No. 2: You haven’t earned it.
If you want to get promoted, “you have to show the company that you’d be a better asset to them in a different position.”
In your case, that position could be first in line at the unemployment office, but let’s think positive. You need to show management that you have the skills they value. This means upping your toadying skills to go total amphibian.
If you haven’t been promoted after describing your boss as “brilliant” and “inspiring” and “the best role model ever,” up your game. Tell your manager that recent interactions with the HR department have left you with a serious case of spattergroit, and ask to be healed by the laying on of hands.
By the time you announce that you’re cured, you’ll already be promoted.
No. 3: They don’t know you’re interested.
Even though you complain constantly about your current position, it’s possible that management doesn’t understand you want to be promoted. That’s why you are advised to “inform you(r) boss about your plans and ambitions.”
To set yourself apart, dig deep into your fantasy life to come up with a truly compelling story. (No fantasy life? Try mine. How about, “My ambition is to turn into a magical octopus who plays the bagpipes and wins the heart of The Little Mermaid.”)
This will either impress management with your imagination or really freak them out. Either way, you’ll get a promotion.
No. 4: You aren’t taking credit.
If you don’t blow your own horn, a management team as deaf as yours will never realize “that you’ve been doing a great job and that you’re ready for what’s next.”
Belli’s advice is to keep “an inventory of your accomplishments,” which you can bring “to your next performance review or negotiation meeting.”
Keeping this list shouldn’t be difficult. It will fit on the back of a postage stamp. Even so, waiting for a review leaves months when management doesn’t know how wonderful you are. Better to update your manager with a constant barrage of achievements.
Here are a few examples:
“I woke up this morning.”
“That report you assigned me last month? I’ve written a whole sentence!”
“I changed my socks.”
Follow up each announcement by asking, “Will you promote me now?” You’ll wear them down sooner or later — and then you won’t have to change your socks.
No. 5: You’re not open to feedback and criticism.
A leader must demonstrate “the ability to take constructive feedback and criticism.”
Instead of putting your fingers in your ears and singing “Shake It Off” while your manager goes through the litany of your faults and failures, prove that the message has been received.
Breaking down in bitter sobs at the slightest criticism may not seem like the right posture for a future leader, but it just could make your manager feel guilty.
A mercy promotion may not be what you wanted, but you can still cash the checks.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.