For many people, it can be difficult to ask for things even if they are well deserved. While it can be quite daunting to ask your boss for a promotion, don’t passively wait for someone else to bring up the topic of your promotion. In your professional life, no one will be a better advocate for you than yourself.
At the same time, you shouldn’t go into the conversation unprepared. You can minimize the unknown variables by taking the time to prepare and practice beforehand.
What Value Do You Bring
The most important way you can prepare for a promotion is to think critically about your role at the organization. How would you define your value to your boss and the overall company? What are you the go-to person for? Quantify how your contributions have made a difference. Think in terms of time, value, productivity, interdepartmental relationships, etc. When it comes to promotions, what you can do for other people is more important than you think. In the book Give and Take by Adam Grant, he examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom
Think about how it’ll benefit the organization if you get promoted. It can be easy to think about why you would like a promotion (increased status, more money, benefits, etc) but you should be able to articulate the organizational benefit of getting a promotion. Will you be able to deal more effectively with external or internal stakeholders? Take on management responsibilities? Negotiate on your employer’s behalf? The book Who Gets Promoted by Donald Asher goes over the work you need to do and the relationships you need to build in order to get a promotion.
Prepare a one-two page document outlining your successful track record at the company. Make use of bullet points and other visualizations to clearly show how you’re already performing at a level they’d expect from someone senior to your role.
Timing is Vitally Important
Secondly, timing is critical. It’s in your best interest to let your manager know that you intend to talk about a possible promotion ahead of time so that they’re not caught off guard. You might, in fact, need 3 meetings to get some traction on this idea: a meeting to let your manager know that you want to discuss a promotion in the near future, a meeting for the actual conversation, and a meeting or an email after the fact to deal with any questions or issues your manager may have.
It’s best to schedule these conversations around the time of your annual review. It is likely that a manager would have the ability to budget in a raise for you if he or she agrees to go ahead with the promotion.
Practice, Practice, and Practice
Finally, practice as much as you can before you ask your manager for promotion. You need to be able to present a thoughtful argument that will convince the other party that you are deserving of a promotion. In many ways, this conversation is a negotiation. It may help to practice some of the steps in the book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss, who was a skilled FBI negotiator.
Asking for a promotion will be an exciting experience if you are prepared and believe in yourself. If you aren’t prepared, you could do your career more harm than good. But if you’ve demonstrated your skills and have done the work, even if you don’t end up getting the promotion this go around, you’ll demonstrate to your employer that you are interested in growing within the organization and prepared to work hard for it.
Would you want to learn exactly what to write in your negotiation emails to earn you 5–20% more? Read How & Why These Negotiation & Networking Emails Yield Results.
Edward Gorbis is a Leadership coach, and the Founder of Career Meets World, a coaching platform focused on helping motivated leaders operate successfully under pressure. You can follow his podcast — Career Meets World or connect with him on Twitter or Instagram.
If you’re an aspiring or first-time leader and want to develop an invincible mindset, step into your full leadership potential, and earn the salary you know you deserve, then reach out to Edward and fill out a short application to see how we can best partner together.