Saving money and cutting back on your expenses will only get you so far. You’ll need to earn more income if you want to get out of a financial rut or reach financial freedom.
But how can you increase your income when you only have so much energy and time in your day? One of the best ways to do that is by getting promoted.
Not only will a promotion come with a pay raise, but it can also offer new opportunities to learn new skills and grow professionally.
But what do you if you’re not being promoted?
Why You Haven’t Been Promoted Yet
I run across individuals all the time who are eager to get promoted. They have their eye on the next role and are always applying for open positions. But for some reason, they never get the job they want. Or if they do, they quickly reach a ceiling and can’t break through it.
I’ve also witnessed impatience with some individuals who feel that companies should promote them within 3-6 months of taking on a particular role. Ambition is admirable, but it needs to be grounded in demonstrated performance. Don’t be that person… You need a plan for that next promotion.
At the core of your strategy is one fundamental concept: proving you’re ready.
What Does it Mean to be Ready?
How do you know if you’ve performed well in your current role and are ready to be promoted? Unless you work for an organization with clear promotion guidelines, this can be a tricky question to answer. Both for the employee and manager, by the way.
One way to help answer this question is to look at which stage of maturity you’re in relative to your role. Remember that maturity isn’t about age; it’s about professionally handling challenges, communicating with others, and taking responsibility.
Maturity Level 1 – Learning Phase
The learning phase is typically when you take on a new role, entry-level or otherwise. You’re spending most of your time absorbing information and learning the ropes.
How long you spend in this phase depends mainly on the nature of your role and your ability to absorb new information. While in this phase, your productivity is relatively low, and the company is investing a lot of energy into helping you gain the necessary experience.
Your expectations are off if you’re in this phase and thinking about your next promotion. For now, you need to show them you can do this job before considering moving on to another.
Maturity Level 2 – Applying Phase
The applying phase usually kicks in when you have learned a significant portion of what it takes to perform the role. You’re now applying that new knowledge in your work to deliver value to the organization.
Until someone reaches this level, their productivity is usually below what’s needed to be effective. Many people spend the rest of their careers in this stage, which is perfectly fine.
But if you are interested in moving up, this is the phase you usually start thinking about your next promotion.
Unfortunately, most people skip over the following two maturity levels and head straight to their boss’ office. This is likely why you’re not advancing in your career.
Maturity Level 3 – Teaching Phase
If you suddenly find yourself spending considerable time teaching those around you and imparting your knowledge, whether voluntarily or not, you’ve reached the next maturity level of your role – the teaching phase.
You, of course, still have a job to do, but you’ve become so good at it that you can now use the extra productivity you’ve freed up for activities that benefit others. There is no better way to pressure test your knowledge than to teach it to someone else. Not only are you helping them out, but you’re also fine-tuning your skills.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be “the boss” or manager to build up other people. If you take a proactive approach and volunteer to help bring on new people, it helps your boss out and builds your credibility as a budding leader.
Maturity Level 4 – Improving Phase
The final, improving phase is an elusive maturity level for many, but potent if you want to increase your chances of getting promoted. At this point in your role, you’re somewhat established, and you’ve demonstrated your expertise.
In this phase, you look for opportunities to leverage that knowledge and experience beyond your contribution. This can include creating a solution for a problem that others can use to improve productivity or leading a project that benefits the organization as a whole.
Endless examples depend on your specific role and company; the key is to show you can solve problems and improve processes.
What Phase Are You In?
Evaluate your situation, and ask yourself what maturity stage you’re currently in relative to your role. If you’re serious about that next promotion, you need to make sure you transition through all the phases.
Even if you’re not seeking a promotion, going through all those phases is common for your career development and is a great way not to get bored in your current role.
Focus on mindfully transitioning through these various phases – don’t just check the box. You’ll have a high probability of convincing your boss and organization that you’re ready for the next promotion. You might not even have to ask for a promotion if you have a good manager; they may encourage you to apply for one, or flat out offer it to you.
But just in case they don’t…
The Hidden Factors Holding You Back from Getting Promoted
It’s possible you applied yourself and went through all the abovementioned phases over several years, but you’re still not getting promoted. Here are a few more things to consider:
Your Boss is Not a Mind Reader
Unless you advertise your desire to take on another challenge, your boss may assume you’re perfectly happy doing such a great job in your current role. There’s nothing more annoying to a manager (a good one, at least) than a dissatisfied employee who won’t voice their concerns directly.
Don’t Be Too Bashful
Have you spent a lot of time working on the last 2 phases? Does anyone other than you know about all that effort? Don’t be shy about sharing your successes at work with others, especially your boss. Performance reviews are an excellent opportunity to highlight those achievements. Your boss is busy and may only see a fraction of your contributions.
Don’t Outsource Your Career
I see too many examples of people assuming their development and next promotion are their boss’s sole responsibility. No one will care about your career as much as you. Take ownership of it!
Have an Exit Strategy
A significant barrier to getting promoted is the problem you create for your boss if you move to another department. This is especially true if you’re a very competent employee and your manager has invested a lot of energy and time in you. They don’t want to lose you!
If you’re chasing that next promotion, create a backup plan for your boss. Sure, it’s their job to deal with it, but taking that approach will help make them your advocate instead of an exit barrier.
Some of the best career moves I made were due to connections I had made earlier in my career. Don’t limit yourself to just your group or department. Find opportunities to meet leaders in other areas and keep in touch with them to build the relationship. You never know what problem they need to solve; you could be their next solution.
Invest in Your Development
Take extra courses in the evenings, read personal development books, and participate in training opportunities at work. Do whatever it takes to learn what’s needed to advance. It may be tough, but you will differentiate yourself in the workplace.
Promotions won’t happen overnight, so be patient and but persistent. Keep working hard and demonstrating your value to the company. When the right opportunity becomes available, you’ll be ready.
Unlock Your Potential
Improving your earning potential isn’t easy. There may be long hours, stressful deadlines, horrible bosses, and endless bureaucracy. The key is persevering, investing heavily in your development, and pushing through the BS.
You also have to keep pressure on your organization and nudge them along. I’ve witnessed what a proactive approach to a career looks like vs. the alternative. It’s a night and day difference.
And finally, don’t underestimate the challenges of landing a top job at a company. There are some significant disadvantages that you need to keep in mind, especially if you’re not ready to take on the added responsibilities.
Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.