How to ask for a promotion the right way | Main Region | TS

Manager and staff discussing promotion
So, you’ve been in your current role for some time and you’re starting to feel like you’re ready for a new challenge. The only problem is that you’re not sure if it’s too early to ask for a promotion or how to ask for a promotion the right way.

The first thing to bear in mind is that there isn’t a set timeframe before you can ask for a promotion. While many people are overly hesitant or don’t know when the right time to ask for a promotion is, remember that promotions are linked to your performance, not length of tenure.

Therefore, before you go to your boss to ask for a promotion, you need to carefully and honestly assess whether you are ready. 

Asking for a promotion – key considerations 

1. Before asking for a promotion, assess your job performance 

Before you ask for a promotion, check you truly are ready. After all, there may be areas of your current position you are yet to master before you can get a promotion. Revisit your job description and check you are fully competent in each area. You should also reflect on any feedback your boss gave you in your most recent annual review and any other more regular check-ins that you have.

Next, ask yourself if you are mentally prepared. If you only joined the organisation a year ago, for instance, you might not be ready for more change. Perhaps you feel you are still getting to grips with your current job. 

On the other hand, you may feel up to the challenge of new job responsibilities, because right now you aren’t being pushed to your full potential. Perhaps you find the thought of extra responsibility, a new work routine and liaising with more senior stakeholders motivating. If so, then get ready to ask for what you want.

2. Check back with your career progression plan

Before meeting with your boss to ask for a promotion, review your career progression plan. You may see a tempting promotional opportunity in your current team, but will it take you one step closer to your overall career goals? Sometimes a side step can help advance your career in the long run by widening your professional skills, network and knowledge. But other times, it can lead you astray. At worst, the wrong promotion makes it difficult to get your progression back on track.

So, reflect on your progression goals and make sure the job promotion you’re asking for is the right one for your long-term ambitions. If you don’t have a career progression plan in place:

3. Communicate your ambitions

There’s more to achieving a promotion than being ready for new job responsibilities – you also need to convince your boss that you’re equipped to succeed in a new position. Hopefully you have a good relationship with your boss, one in which you feel comfortable sharing your future career ambitions and asking for a promotion. Meet with your boss one-on-one to clearly communicate your ambitions. 

However, remember to be both tactful and professional in this meeting. After all, you don’t want your manager to think you’re presumptuous, entitled or already disengaged with your current job. 

So, rather than immediately asking for a promotion, state that you have fully enjoyed getting to grips with your job, but that you feel that you are now ready for the next challenge. Give your reasons and ask your boss for their thoughts and feedback. Don't simply ask for a promotion. Instead, be prepared for a two-way, open and honest conversation about your current position. Also think through how getting promoted would align with the company and business objectives both today, six months from now and further into the future.

4. Review your organisation’s career progression policy

Regardless of how well prepared you are, it is unlikely that you’ll be given a promotion to a new position right away. At this point, your boss will likely consult your organisation’s career progression policy. This outlines what needs to be achieved to be considered promotion-ready. Your boss will then work with you on a promotion plan. For instance, your boss may identify skills gaps you need to overcome or additional successes you need to achieve to qualify for promotion. 

5. Seek out upskill training opportunities

If you do need to upskill in order to get the promotion, stretch opportunities are a good option. These tasks push you beyond your normal job capabilities, so discuss with your boss relevant tasks or projects you could take on or assist with. Start small with work that will take you out of your comfort zone but not out of your depth. Once you successfully deliver on smaller tasks, you can then take on bigger challenges and your manager will start to call on you for increasingly demanding work - all of which takes you closer to your promotion.

6. Set promotion timeframes with your boss

Before you finish your one-on-one meeting with your manager, make sure your promotion plan includes set timeframes related to the key accomplishments and targets you need to hit to prepare and be ready for your new position. 

If your boss doesn't raise timings, suggest them yourself. These should include a date to review your progress - whether that's in two or six months. You can keep your manager looped in with your development in the meantime, but by having a conversation about key dates, you'll achieve your new role sooner rather than later. After all, you've taken the time to ask your manager about being promoted from your current role, you've discussed new responsibilities and what you need to do in your current position to get promoted, so make sure the business now also sets clear and transparent timings around your plan.

Ideally, you’ll walk out of the discussion feeling motivated and ready for the next steps you need to take to get a promotion.

7. Turn ambition into action

Now that you have communicated your ambitions, have a promotional plan in place and set timeframes, you’re ready to take action – your days are about to become a lot busier!  

Effective time management is key if you want to avoid falling behind your promotion schedule, from setting a clear deadline for every task to planning the next day’s to-do list the night before.

Remember to maintain your work-life balance when working towards this promotion. Yes, you want to prove your value at work and why you’re worth investing more into, but you also want to prove your worth without burning out. You won’t achieve a promotion if you run yourself into the ground. It is essential for everyone, regardless of seniority, to switch off and recharge their batteries. Try to log off on time and have plenty of downtime in the evenings and weekends.

Don’t forget to record your progress. As you start working towards promotion goals, track these and any measurable results, and have regular one-on-ones with your boss to relay this information, asking for their support or feedback where necessary. 

You may also like to consider working with a mentor. A mentor can be of great value when working towards a promotion. Your mentor should be someone other than your boss, who is credible and senior to you, who can objectively advise you as you strive towards success.

What if my boss says ‘no’?

Don’t lose heart if the answer to a promotion request is “no”. Ask for specific feedback to pinpoint exactly why you weren’t successful this time round and use this as an opportunity to further self-improve. If, however, you feel there is no scope for promotion within your current organisation, perhaps it’s time to look for a new job

Remember, a promotion is based on merit not tenure. By asking for a promotion then matching your ambition with a realistic view of what you must achieve, you’ll set yourself up with a stronger chance of reaching your career aspirations.

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