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Is Now a Good Time to Ask for a Promotion?

Posted on 2021-04-12 07:00:00

We checked in with industry leaders from Arvato, Danone and Alliance Bank to find out what they think!

Despite the wide-ranging and persistent impact of our current economic and workforce situation due to the pandemic, the show must go on! – our lives and careers altogether. And this might include aiming for a promotion or some kind of upgrade in your career. Unfortunately, judging from how we started this year, asking for one feels like a HUGE career no-no.

Guess what though – it is actually a yes-yes!

And this is according to the three HR leaders we spoke to. Here’s what they have to say about the possibilities of getting a promotion in a time of uncertainties and how you can propel your career in that direction even during a pandemic.

Khim Tan, Group Chief Human Resource Officer at Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad

With over 25 years of Human Capital Management experience, Khim Tan specialises in the areas of Talent Management, Leadership Development, and Organisational Effectiveness.

Chloe Gan, HR Director at Arvato Systems Malaysia

Chloe Gan has 18 years of broad HR generalist experience across multiple industries and currently serves as the primary strategic partner to all the business unit heads and senior leaders in Arvato.

Normalis Mohd Sharif, HR Director Integrator (India-South East Asia) at Danone

Normalis Mohd Sharif has more than 20 years of HR experience at local, regional and global level, and has spent her career in diverse industries.

The Big Question: Should you ask for a promotion?
Khim: When the right opportunity exists, asking for a promotion is fine, especially if you are ready for it. Evaluate it from several perspectives. For example, has your role significantly expanded? Have you been demonstrating qualities exceeding the expectations of your current position? Is the promotion opportunity available in line with the organisation’s financial situation? If the answers are yes, go ahead. Notwithstanding the above, a good line manager in an organisation with strong talent management practices would have proactive career conversations and individual development plan with key talent. Hence, their career progression is managed proactively.

Chloe: Pandemic or not, it is important to look at the climate of your overall organisation. It may not be the best time to ask for a promotion if your company is going through a lay-off exercise.

However, this may be different depending on specific situations. For example, if your company is doing well despite a global pandemic, you may also need to ask yourself if you are ready to take on a bigger role and responsibility.

Are companies hitting the pause on bonuses and promotions right now?
Khim Tan: Generally, organisations aim to preserve jobs. At the same time, the employer needs to provide assurance and motivation to ensure the organisation continues to run well because morale may be affected. While opportunities for promotions might also be impacted, it is fair to look beyond the current situation and remain hopeful for future opportunities.

Chloe: If the business is badly impacted, it is understandable to take certain measures and do what needs to be done urgently in order to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the workforce.

Normalis: Companies have to come up with the best way for them to be sustainable. Some companies freeze bonuses and promotions, so they don’t have to resort to layoffs. There could also be companies minimizing their workforce in order to continue to reward them well. Nevertheless, good and transparent communication will help in this situation.

What are some of the different forms of recognition and appreciation at your company?
Khim Tan: At Alliance Bank, we cultivate an appreciative culture via non-monetary means such as one-on-one appreciation gestures. We encourage our employees to award Alliance Heroes e-badges for peer recognition, and senior management uses e-Appreciation notes to recognise employees who demonstrated Alliance Bank’s Key Behaviours and Values. Additionally, as part of recognising rising stars in the organisation, we provide customised accelerated programmes to ensure that we nurture our talent and prepare them for a future leadership role.

Normalis: People development and career growth can be other ways to show employees that they are appreciated and valued. During our annual individual development conversations, ‘Danoners’ will have the opportunity to discuss their career aspirations as well as development areas and possible steps to close these gaps. They are also provided with various development opportunities such as leading projects and cross department/ country/ region assignments that will help develop and grow their skills and competencies further.

What are some tips on how to get a promotion during #WFH?
Chloe: No matter what your working arrangements are, it is based on consistency and performance. Show your value, upskill yourself, fill in the gaps, be pro-active, and lastly go the extra mile to always contribute.

Normalis: Performance is one of the key criteria in a promotion exercise. When working from home, we need to be more agile and adaptable to change our usual way of working to fit the current situation and deliver results. Should there be an opportunity for a promotion, the deliverables, a person’s ability to adapt to remote working including leading teams remotely, will be considered. Have regular conversations with your superiors on your progress, the support you need, your development areas, and your career aspirations.

What if your request for a promotion doesn’t go through?
Khim Tan: Understand the promotional requirements and proactively work towards it. Take this opportunity to pick up new skills, diversify your experience, or make a lateral move.

Normalis: Ask why. Feedback is the best way to understand your areas of improvement and the steps you should take next. Leverage on the learning resources at your organizations or on your own.

By Nadia Syafiq

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