I think I am ready to take on more responsibilities, and I don't think I need the people or project management skills to do so. However, some managers just don't think I should be promoted. I could fight back and make a detailed case about why my promotion would benefit the company, e.g. "don't wait for others to recognise your value, go for it". But if I "force my way through", even if I succeed, won't I find myself ostracised by other managers?

So, is it worth making a case for your promotion in case it's resisted, or should one exit directly?

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    I think the answer depends more on the circumstances. Is this a promotation you think you deserve and want to ask for? Or is this one you have been offered but are expecting resistance? Or is this one that is promised in your contract but are expecting resistance? – psubsee2003 Dec 30 '18 at 23:00
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    Why do you think you don't need people skills for a promotion? I think your situation demonstrates exactly why those skills are needed. Convince them you have what it takes. – user85135 Dec 30 '18 at 23:26
  • @psubsee2003 I think I have good arguments and data to make a case for a promotion. My line manager is not interested, and does not support, promotions in general. So, if I am successful, not only I will interfere with my line manager's will, but also in eventual higher-level politics. I am trying to understand what is the most common procedure in these cases, because when people ask about promotions the most common reply is "leave, they don't deserve you/it's useless". – Monoandale Dec 31 '18 at 0:49
  • @Monoandale that doesn't answer my question at all, you just restated your question. I asked whether you think you deserve one and want to ask one, or your were offered one that you expect other managers to object to, or you were promised one that you don't think you'll get. Each has a different answer – psubsee2003 Dec 31 '18 at 1:02

Whether you like it or not, people skills and company politics play a huge role in promotions in many companies, and the more junior your role the more critical role they play in promotions. And assuming you are looking for a senior level or principal level position, people skills become much more significant. If you are senior enough to start out with then you can sometimes still move up because you have an existing reputation and previous successes to show off.

My own personal experience comes into play - I joined my current company 6 years ago as a mid-level engineer, but I had 10+ years of experience and some experience managing teams. I had more experience than at least half of the team I was working with and supporting. But I lacked the people skills to work well with both my team and the other teams (which interfacing with all of the teams is a necessity of our more senior level positions).

So I took my own performance reviews to heart and learned how to better deal with the people around me. I was a Senior-level engineer within a year after getting that initial feedback and was a Principal-level engineer 4 years later and have become widely respected within my company.

But I couldn't have gotten there without the people skills. In order to move up within a company you need to be able to work well with most everyone. Sure you will not get along with everyone but you need to be able to work together with them and count on their support, and they need to be able to count on your support as they have their own jobs to do as well.

So to answer your question directly - if you feel you deserve a promotion but your management doesn't support it because your supposed lack of people skills, then you need to look at yourself and try to figure out what is holding you back. If you don't think you can address the issues that your management has with your people skills then you likely will not succeed even if you force your way into a promotion (assuming you get one at all). If you can't address those issues, then your best course of action is to probably move on. But even if you do that, then you are likely going to be held back for the same reason as other companies (although not all)

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    The problem with this answer is you assume that people skills are transferable. While some basic communication/ rapport building skills definitely are, most soft skills aren't. Different companies have different cultures and expect different ways of interaction. To give you an example, in my previous company my every performance review stressed my "excellent communication skills". At the current one, I'm told during my every 1:1 that I suck in terms of comms skills. My comms skills haven't changed in the process of course. The expectations are just totally different. – BigMadAndy Dec 31 '18 at 13:05
  • That's important to say, since "people skills" are sometimes used as unfair feedback. It's something that's impossible to assess objectively so superiors who don't like you/ don't want to promote you talk about "people skills" (or "attitude") to justify their feedback. Also, people who are different than the majority (women in industries dominated by men for example) can have more difficulties establishing themselves at companies - there's plenty of research on that, which can be used as an argument against them ("lacking people skills"). – BigMadAndy Dec 31 '18 at 13:10
  • What I'm saying is: the term "people skills" should be used with caution. – BigMadAndy Dec 31 '18 at 13:11
  • @BigMadAndy Well, the obvious option there seems to be the direct one: If one's superior is using a fuzzy term like "people skills" to justify negative feedback, turn it back on them by asking what change they want to see. Just like the standard advice is "don't go to your manager with a problem, go to your manager with a solution", one's manager shouldn't bring up a negative without having some kind of goal in mind either. Sieze the opportunity to seek improvement. I dare say most managers actually want to continually improve things. Just ask them how you can help them in that goal of theirs. – user Dec 31 '18 at 13:23
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    @BigMadAndy the purpose of comments is to improve or enhance an answer. If you are going to post this much, you should provide an answer of your own. – Old_Lamplighter Dec 31 '18 at 17:38

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