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5 Ways to Earn a Promotion or Raise

I was recently facilitating a leadership program and a participant expressed her frustration that she hadn’t been promoted. Lately, her supervisor had assigned her some extra work, and she felt she should be recognized and compensated for the additional effort. She went to her boss to advocate for a promotion, and was surprised when her efforts were unsuccessful and her manager was annoyed by the request.

There may be times when asking for a promotion is necessary. If you have consistently used the strategies I share below and you are viewed as a high performer, then perhaps it’s time to ask for a promotion or seek other opportunities. But a better approach is to strategically position yourself for a promotion or raise.

Advocating for a raise or promotion (even if you deserve it) usually doesn’t work because your manager may feel backed into a corner. She may not feel you are prepared for a new role, and now she needs to communicate that to you. Even if she does feel you deserve a promotion, now she may feel pressured to act on it.  Either way, it puts your manager in a position of having something else on her plate to deal with.

When you ask for a promotion or raise just because you’ve taken on some additional work, it may come across as entitled or self-focused. The perception is that you care more about your own interests than the needs of the company.

The best approach is to take full ownership of your professional development and prove yourself before you get the promotion.

Below are five strategies for earning the promotion or raise you want:

Take 100% responsibility. Many people believe it’s their managers responsibility to develop them for future growth opportunities. While great leaders do invest time in developing their employees, you should take responsibility for your own development. Delegating your development to your manager is an indication that you won’t take full ownership of a new role. Managers are looking for self-starters who are confident and capable of getting results. Now is the time to prove you possess these traits. Are there new skills you need to learn before you take on a new role? Sign up for a course. Do you need to learn more about the financial side of the business to expand your organizational breadth? Ask someone in finance to mentor you. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what to do. Take ownership of your career.

Share your professional goals. Have you shared your professional goals with your manager? Your boss can’t support you if she doesn’t know what your personal and professional goals are. If you are interested in a leadership role, share that with your manager and ask her what you would need to do to achieve that goal. Your manager is a great resource for communicating specific actions you need to take to position yourself for a new role.

Earlier in my career, I started working for a credit union as the assistant manager of the call center. A year later, I realized I wanted to work in leadership and human resources. I approached the human resources vice president and told her I was interested in moving into her department. Although there weren’t any positions available at the time, six months later when a position did become available, I was chosen over another internal candidate because I had shared my goals with the VP and had enrolled in an HR class on my own time. Don’t wait for someone else to notice you. Ask for what you want.

Go above and beyond. Don’t wait for a promotion to take on extra work. Be of service before you get the promotion. Ask for additional responsibilities and stretch projects that will prepare you for future roles. This illustrates that you are a hard worker who is willing to support your boss and the organization, and that you are an action-oriented, motivated employee who wants to help your boss succeed.

I believe one quality that helped me to earn four promotions in four years, was supporting my boss any way possible. If she talked about a project she wanted to implement or something we needed to get done in the department, I would step in and take care of it. I took things off her plate and followed through. Go the extra mile to help your manager look good. Become an employee who is easy to delegate to and who welcomes new responsibilities.

Ask for feedback. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a promotion is to ask for feedback on your current performance. Don’t wait until your annual evaluation. At least quarterly, ask your manager to rate your performance. A great tool is the feedback scale. Ask your boss:

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate my current performance?

If he says a ’10’, ask, “What did I do to get such a high score?” (this gives you feedback on what to continue).

If he rates you lower than a 10, ask, “What would make it a 10?” (this gives you feedback on what to start or stop doing).

Also ask what knowledge, skills, or abilities are important to be successful in the position you aspire to, and ask your manager to rate you on each of those factors. This may initially feel uncomfortable, but the way to get promoted is to get as much information as you can to improve your skills and performance.

Be a solution provider, not a problem finder. Don’t go to your boss and point out the problems in the department or the organization. Take ownership of problems and come to your manager with solutions. Even if you don’t know the answer to a problem, think through how you might approach it before going to your boss. Managers don’t need more on their plate. They are looking for employees who will take ownership of their role and bring solutions instead of problems.

Employees are rarely promoted for meeting expectations in their position. It takes some extra effort to show your dedication to the organization and the value you bring. If you take 100% responsibility for your development, you dramatically increase your chances of getting that raise or promotion you have come to deserve.

Now I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve been promoted in your career, what did you do to earn the promotion? What advice do you have for someone who wants to move up in their company?

Share your comments below.