The Real Reason Why You’re Not Getting Promoted

By Mel Sim

Hint: It has nothing to do with how hard you’re working.

You had a great performance review so much so you’re certain that a promotion is in the bag. So when your boss announces that sorry, there won’t be a promotion, it’s easy to see why you’re so disappointed.

Thought you really had it? Here’s the tough reality: A good performance review doesn’t guarantee an automatic promotion. Sure, you performed well... for your current position. But the real reason why your boss may not offer you that promotion?

Because you are not ready for it.

Harsh but true – a lot of times you may think you are 100% ready for the next level up but someone with more experience in the industry (like your boss) knows otherwise. And he or she is right in not promoting you when you’re not ready because that is just setting you up for failure.

So why makes you not ready? Here are four reasons:

#1 The new role may require a certain skill you lack
You’re great at what you’re doing right now but in the more senior position you may be required to have some other additional skills that you haven’t quite mastered yet. That’s not to say you’re not good; instead it simply means you’re not good enough yet.

What do you do to ensure you won’t be passed up for a promotion the next time? Recognise the requirements and skills of the role you’re eyeing and work towards improving yourself in those areas. Make sure your boss notices this. Or you can have a talk with your boss to let her know you’re interested in the role but will need some help to get ready for it. Your boss will be more than happy to equip you with whatever is lacking if you show potential.

#2 You have awesome technical skills. Soft skills – hmm, not so
The higher you go up the rank, the more important soft skills become. So while you may be extremely competent technically, you still need a lot of work when it comes to your soft skills. Start developing the skills that are important to a leader – business communication, decision making, negotation, for example – and use them regularly in your everyday work so your boss starts recognising the effort you’re making – enough for him to know you’re ready for the next big role.

#3 You don’t act the way yet
A lot of times, it is a matter of professionalism. If you just started working, you may lack a few attributes, which is why you’re not being promoted despite how good you are at your job. Being at a more senior position requires you to act a certain way – more polished, confident, authoritative. So if you’re still taking long lunches or gossiping by the pantry, that’s going to affect your chances of being promoted. If you’re really serious about wanting that promotion, you need to start acting like you are already in that role.

#4 You think like an employee, not a manager
Remember – you’re gunning for a role that may eventually lead you to a more leadership position. So if you keep thinking of your 9-to-5 as just a job (one that you’re really good at, sure), your boss is not likely to put you on his promotion list. That is because upper management is looking for someone with commitment – one who will think for the better of the company and ways to take the business forward, and not just work with status quo.

You don’t have to slave to show this commitment; it’s really a matter of offering ideas as well as suggestions on how to do certain things better. Start small – you can think up of ways to make your job more effective. This is a great way to prove to your boss you’re innovative and think forward, just like a leader.

TIP: Another reason why you are not getting promoted?
Did you talk to your boss about your interest in wanting that new role? Don’t assume your boss will automatically think you’re looking for a promotion; some bosses won’t act unless they are being prompted. If it seems you’re happy with what you’re doing, your boss may likely think you’re comfortable where you are. So if you want to be promoted, bring it up with your boss so she can set you in the right direction to make it happen.

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