Do you feel like your career has come to a standstill even though there are still several rungs above you on the corporate ladder?
You work hard, you have the necessarily skills and knowledge required, your credentials are up-to-date, you don’t think twice about helping out a fellow colleague, and you get along with everyone. You believe yourself to be promotion-worthy, yet time-and-time again, your peers get promoted over you.
This is the part when you start feeling lost and confused, and the weight of the world sinks in. The truth is, there are often multiple factors involved when you’re not making progress at work. Here are 7 things you could be doing (unknowingly) that are ruining your chances of getting a promotion.
#1 Having a negative, toxic attitude
You already know that arguing or fighting with your boss could sabotage a promotion, but did you know that having an outwardly negatively attitude can have similar consequences? You might not talk back to your employer, but if you’re known as the “office complainer”, or you constantly rant about how much you hate your job, don’t expect any promotions to come your way.
A 2015 survey by Career Builder found that 62% of employers were less likely to promote an employee with a negative or pessimistic attitude. So, even if you’re only speaking out of frustration, too much negative talk usually travels back to your employer. He or she might conclude that it’s safer to promote someone who’s happy on the job, since the person is more likely to stick around longer than a Negative Nelly.
#2 Refusing to go the extra mile
When Career Builder asked hiring managers about the qualities that could be keeping an employee from receiving a promotion, a whopping 71% pointed to an unwillingness to take on extra work outside of their assigned job responsibilities.
It only makes sense, as people who would go the distance and volunteer to do work that needs to be done, even if it’s outside their designated role or function, are often see as the “go to” people within their organisation. “These ‘go to’ people are the most trusted, and are the most likely to be promoted, because they’ve already shown they can take on more than what they are currently doing,” wrote Jennifer Dulski, president and COO of Change.org, in a LinkedIn blog post.
So, you might want to think twice the next time you’re tempted to say, “that’s not my job.”
#3 You hide in the background
Life isn’t fair and introverts do tend to get overlooked. So, if you’re the type who typically hides in the background, then you can bet that your name won’t be the first to pop up when the promotion rounds come by.
If your future plans involve moving up the career ladder, you will need to step up and stand out. Even if you’re an introvert or a low-key person, you must be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. For instance, you can volunteer for projects or accept assignments that give you the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership abilities and show your employer what you’re truly capable of.
#4 You lack professionalism
It’s cutting yourself off at one drink at the company’s happy hour and not indulging in four glasses just because they’re free. It’s consistently being on time for work and for meetings. It’s taking the effort to use proper grammar when getting your emails out, dressing appropriately for work, and even something as simple as stashing your smartphone away when you’re in a meeting – and not on Snapchat with your BFF just because you’re bored.
The key takeaway is this – every organisation has guidelines, traditions and customs. Remaining ignorant of the etiquette or level of professionalism that’s expected of you – or wilfully ignoring it – could keep you from a promotion.
#5 You get defensive when you receive (constructive) feedback
The natural reaction to criticism is defense, defending your work and yourself, even if the criticism you receive is constructive of nature. This is almost a certain career advancement killer.
It doesn’t matter if your boss dismisses your entire presentation or thinks an idea you’ve voiced out is irrelevant. The trick to handling such situations is by separating yourself from work and to handle such situations with professionalism. Take a deep breath, remain composed and do not become defensive.
Instead, view the criticism constructively as a growth and learning opportunity. If you feel it is unwarranted, take it in and at a later time, arrange for a meeting to discuss your concerns calmly and professionally.
#6 You don’t network
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to stay at a job for 5 – 10 years, without ever having networked or connect meaningfully with people outside of your organisation. In fact, you could be hurting your career by staying so insulated and disconnected from players in your field or industry. Remember that your network is your net worth, and you can start with something as simple as building a Linkedin profile or by attending networking events.
Regular networking outside your company will also help you understand the changes in your industry, identify potential new opportunities that would be exciting for you, meet new people who can later support you in a transition, and gain clearer insight of your value in the marketplace.
#7 You haven’t asked
There’s never going to be a perfect time to ask, but if you’ve demonstrated that your value has outstripped your current job title and salary, chances are, your boss would have noticed too. Just be prepared to back up your proposition with data and clear examples that illustrate why you are due for a promotion.
Companies with excellent work culture have more transparent boundaries between management and employees, so it’s entirely possible for you to talk to your boss above moving up the ladder in a more informal way. There’s no point in hiding your ambitions. Instead, start gathering information that will help you determine if you’re in the right position to officially ask for a promotion. If it isn’t possible to do this with your direct boss, then take up the conversation with another manager or executive that you trust.
Asking for more, whether it’s a pay raise or a bump in responsibilities, doesn’t have to be something dreadful. If you believe that the work you’ve done, the skills you possess and the dedication you’ve shown combine to warrant a promotion, then make sure you’re doing all the right things and be vocal about what you really want. The worst they can do is say no.