By Tonya Wells – Today is Promotion Day. You’ve been counting down the days for months now fully expecting to finally get that promotion to Manager, Sr. Manager, Director, Vice President, up to ‘fill in the blank’ job title. But, an hour ago, you were told that it’s just not happening this year. Your company overlooked you for the third year in a row….AGAIN! You’ve slaved away for this company for so long, working overtime, sometimes 80 hours a week, taking on extra projects for no extra pay, you’ve volunteered for service activities on weekends, and you’re even doing work that you’ve been asked to do which is FAR outside your job description.
You are ready to march right into your boss’s office and tell her/him that she/he can take this job and shove it. Whoa!!!!!! Hold on there hoss. Before you do something rash that you will regret later, finish out the rest of your work day, go home and think on this for at least the night.Here are couple of things to think about:
1) If you’ve been with your current company for less than a year, chill out. Your expectations might be a bit too high unless you had an agreement with your employer when you joined the company or moved into their group that you would be promoted the next time promotions were handed out.
If the company backed out on that agreement, then see point #2. If there was no agreement, wait at least until your first year anniversary to have this conversation with anyone. Use the time to plant the seeds that you’re interested in a promotion the next time they are handed out. Find out what you need to do to get promoted.
2) Have you spoken to your manager’s manager about your desire for a promotion and received a specific list of things (in writing) you’ll need to do to get the promotion? Your boss might not want you getting promoted. She might see you as competition. Maybe your promotion hasn’t even been discussed with upper level management. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they don’t know. And, if you’re ready to turn in your resignation anyway, don’t worry about making your current boss mad. Do you want the promotion or not? If your boss’s boss is easily accessible, call or approach her tomorrow and ask if you can setup a time to discuss the recent promotions. Allow her at least a day to prepare for the meeting, and don’t expect her to meet with you on the spot. Nobody likes to be cornered and feel like they have to defend a decision without time to prepare. Be prepared that your boss may not be happy with you about this. If you need a reference from her to get another job, you need to be prepared to diffuse the situation.
2) Do not ever quit a current job without having another job offer and start date in writing from another company! Now, go back and re-read that sentence again and write it down on a separate piece of paper. I cannot emphasize enough to you how important this point is for your career. It is way easier to find a job if you already have one than if you are unemployed. You will be asked by your next Hiring Manager why you left your last job – count on it. You want to be able to tell them you are still employed and are looking for an opportunity for advancement, not that you got pissed off because you were overlooked at promotion time and quit your job. That screams of unstable employee. You want to come across as the level-headed employee who is taking the opportunity to better themselves. It’s all perception. I know you’re still pissed at your employer, and the Hiring Manager probably knows without asking that you’re pissed at your employer (although you should have nothing but great things to say about your prior employer). But, it’s more about how you handle the situation.
3) Next, get your resume updated. Things may or may not go well with your boss’s boss. Get your resume submitted to some jobs that you think you might enjoy doing and are qualified to do BEFORE you have your meeting. You might even want to wait a week or two before requesting the meeting so that you can see if there might be some better opportunities available outside your current company. Who knows? This might be just the push you needed to go find yourself a better job!
The bottom line is this – if you meet with upper level management, and they stick to their guns and give you no promotion, you have two decisions. Stick it out or move on.
- If you’re going to stick it out, you need to have a FIRM COMMITMENT from upper level management that if you meet their list of requirements, you will be promoted next year. And, if you do have a firm commitment from your company to promote you if you do x, y, and z, it is up to you to follow through on those commitments, document when they have been completed, and to at least once a quarter, jostle management’s memory about where you are in meeting your commitments. You want your goals to stay in their minds, but just don’t be a pest about it.
- If they are wishy-washy on their level of commitment and your gut instinct is telling you that they are just stringing you along hoping to keep you in your same job a little bit longer, then you need to listen to that gut instinct. Your gut instinct is picking up on non-verbal cues and the lack of commitment level on their part. It is probably time to move on.
I know storming into your boss’s office and telling them to stick it sounded so much more satisfying, and it probably would have been for about an hour or two before you realized you had no job lined up for tomorrow morning. But this way will keep you employed a little longer, and will hopefully help you land on your feet in a better position in the long run!