Asking for a promotion can be difficult, but the sweet feeling of winning one is worth it.
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And according to career expert and author, Michelle Gibbings, there are some steps you can take to make the path to a promotion easier – and others that will almost ensure you don’t get it.
Here’s what not to do.
Ask too early
It seems obvious, but asking too early can really damage your chances.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Gibbings said, “Nothing annoys a person more than a person who just walked in the door and then they turn around and say, ‘When can I get my next pay rise?’”
She said it’s important to understand that many organisations will have cycles of promotions and pay rises which line up with performance review cycles.
With this in mind, it’s generally a good idea to wait for one or two performance reviews to understand how your performance stacks up against expectations.
“You want to make sure you've kicked some goals before you start asking for a promotion,” Gibbings said.
“You [should] have one or two performance cycles, so you're clear on what it is that you're expected to achieve, whether you've actually delivered, whether there are any gaps and then also, just see what the lay of the land is in terms of the organisation and how it works so you've got a sense of what is reasonable in that organisation.”
Always think long term is Gibbings’ advice, and don’t “get stroppy if you don’t get your own way”.
“What you don't want to do is burn any bridges, and so if for example you're asking for a promotion and you get the sense that the person you report to doesn't think you're ready, find out why.”
Asking questions and seeking to understand where your superior is coming from is crucial here, as is breathing deeply if you feel yourself starting to become agitated.
“You want to be in a position where you speak up, you put forward your point of view, but you need to do it in a way that's respectful and a way that protects the relationship that you have with your boss.”
You should try to find out why your boss doesn’t think you’re ready and consider whether you agree. If you feel your boss will never see you as ready for a promotion, that means it’s time to consider other roles within the organisation and outside of it.
Overvalue or undervalue your work
“The most important thing is to know what your value is and how much that is valued by the organisation,” Gibbings said.
“At the end of the day, employment is a value exchange – you turn up, deliver the value, and in exchange the organisation pays you.”
So if you’re going for a promotion, you need to pinpoint the additional value that you’re adding that the organisation needs.
Here, it’s important to be clear about your unique selling proposition and be able to package and pitch it strongly.
To find out what your value is, you’ll need to talk to people: this could be a professional body or a mentor. You can also use websites like SEEK and LinkedIn to gain an understanding of the pay scales in your profession and where you sit.
You also need to chat to people you work with and have worked with to understand what you’re bringing to the table.
Once you understand that, you have to back yourself.
“Remember, when you're talking about promotions and salaries, it's a negotiation,” Gibbings said.
“So, what are you willing to give up? What are you willing to trade in relation to what it is you want to get as your ultimate outcome?”
Then, go and ask – and good luck.
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