Four Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Get a Promotion

February 20, 2018
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As if there aren’t enough sources of stress at work, why is asking for a promotion perhaps the most stressful experience? “Because you know you’re putting yourself at some level of risk,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.head-1556567_1920

To help ensure your viability for a promotion, be sure to avoid the following four common mistakes.

  1. Losing sight of long-term goals. If you haven’t already set three, five and ten year goals, stop and set them before doing anything else. Knowing where you ultimately want to land will help you gauge ideal opportunities and avoid wasting time in the wrong roles. Sometimes our egos get the best of us and we become so wrapped in earning a promotion, we overlook how it aligns with our career goals. Before you start vying for a promotion, ask yourself, “Does this align with what I ultimately want to do in the next five or ten years?”
  2. Perceiving a promotion as a “fix.” The, “As soon as…” or the, “If this happens, then…” hypothetical scenarios over which our minds toil can be deceiving. Believing that everything will be wonderful once you earn a promotion isn’t realistic. Sure you may earn incrementally more income so you can buy your dream home or that fancy sports car, however earning the promotion won’t resolve issues you may have with your boss and colleagues, or fundamental differences of opinion you may have with those in executive leadership.
  3. Not making it mutually beneficial for your boss. Dale Carnegie’s 14th Human Relations principle, ‘Get the other person saying, “yes, yes” immediately, underscores the importance of acknowledging the ‘WIIFM?’ (What’s in it for me?) mentality. To sway your boss into considering you for the promotion, there must be something it in for him or her. If you’re proposing new responsibilities, focus on the payout for your boss—what are the personal and professional benefits for him or her? Perhaps you have the skills required for an important initiative that your boss lacks. Might a promotion mean more travel for you and less for your boss, which could be something he or she really wants? Ask yourself how your individual promotion can benefit your boss, and then weave those benefits into how you frame your eligibility for the promotion.
  4. Behaving inappropriately. Perhaps you disagree with the decision those in charge made to search externally for candidates and/or don’t believe the internal candidates chosen are worthy of consideration. You are entitled to your opinion, however it’s important that you, ‘Don’t criticize, condemn or complain,’ Dale Carnegie’s first Human Relations principle. Instead, apply his 19th principle, ‘Appeal to nobler motives,’ by staying positive and focused. Remember, grumbling about others only detracts from your own integrity and credibility, so stay upbeat.
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