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5 Reasons Not to Ask for a Promotion

Asking for Promotion in Canada

We all believe we deserve more money. We all believe we deserve a better job.

The harsh truth is that it doesn’t matter what we believe. What matters is our ability to persuade our managers to give us what we want.

Remember this – a promotion is not a reward for what you’ve done in the past. It’s a prediction of what you are capable of doing in the future.

The two promotions that I got within my first three years of working in Canada did not happen because I’m special of have exceptional qualifications. I’m pretty sure my competition were way more qualified than me on paper.

However, I believed climbing the corporate ladder is all about going above and beyond your job description, and being able to market and sell your accomplishments during that conversation, be it a job interview or a discussion with your boss.

So if you’re preparing to have “the talk” with your manager regarding a raise or a promotion, remember to stay clear away from these 5 points of persuasion that will surely backfire on you:

#1 An upcoming life-changing event
It’s completely understandable that weddings, new babies, and new houses will require you to have a bigger income to support this life change.

The issue is that it has nothing to do with the business. Your personal life-changing events are for you to manage. The only valid reason for a promotion or raise has to stem from a business-driven benefit.

#2 “I’m overdue for a promotion”
I’ve seen people at the company I work at doing the same job for 20+ years.

Time is not a deciding factor when it comes to promotions.

Looks across your time in the role, and ask yourself “So what?” How does my work impact the department? How does my work make/save the company money? How does my work improve productivity efficiency?

Quantify your work in terms of dollars and time saved, not time spent.

#3 “How come they got a promotion?”
Remember when our kids told us “How come Timmy gets two gifts and I only get one?” and you replied “I don’t care what Timmy’s getting.”

Same life lesson folks!

It’s never a good idea to compare yourself to a colleague in any discussion, let alone a discussion where you’re asking for a promotion.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Your colleague probably did something to earn that promotion. Maybe they were handling a project you were unaware of. Maybe they were effectively networking with senior management and volunteering their time on a side project.

Whatever the reason could be, don’t bring up anybody else into this conversation, and focus on the business benefits you’ve delivered to the team and to your manager.

#4 “I’m doing my job really well”
Even if you do your job really well, all you are proving is that you’re good at doing the job you have now.

A promotion will come with more responsibilities, and unless you’ve proven you can handle those responsibilities, your manager will not take that risk.

This might come as a cultural shock to some Asian work cultures, where there are org structures with many intermediate levels, designed to promote the best performers one level at a time.

But like I said earlier, in North American culture, promotions are awarded to those who have proven they can take on more responsibilities, not to those who have proven they do their existing jobs well.

#5 “I’m bored. I need a new challenge”
Very risky approach! Not only will you not get the promotion, you’ve just told the hiring manager you hate your job.

While you may feel bored in your current role you have two choices – find another job at the same level, or fix what’s broken in your current department.

No system is perfect. At any job in any team, there is always something that can be improved.

The question, do you have the drive to stand up and say “I’m going to fix it”? Or will you just sink back into your daily routine because that’s what’s comfortable to you.

Guess what? The person that says “I’m going to fix it” is the one who’s next in line for that promotion. (This may be the person you were tempted to bring up in Scenario #3)

Take the next steps…
The one take away from this article is this – to get that next promotion, you’ve got to prove you can take on more responsibilities and can prove you can do that next-level job.

You might be thinking – “That’s stupid advice! How can I prove I can do a job that I don’t have?”

Good question. But that’s really up to you to figure out how you can prove yourself to your management.

I wish I had a better answer for you, but I don’t. If promotions were easy, everyone would be getting it.

Remember, there are three ways a promotion exists for you:

  1. It’s an opening in another team
  2. It’s an opening within your own team
  3. It’s a new position that hasn’t been created yet

In all three cases, the hiring manager wants to take the path of least risk. And that path lies with hiring someone who has already done the job.

In a perfect world, your boss will mentor you and tell you exactly what you need to do to get that promotion. But we don’t live in that world.

So it’s up to you to know your goals, find problems, own them, and do the work to solve them, proving you’re worthy of that promotion.

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