Last year during my amazing performance review, my boss said he submitted my name to be promoted to a higher officer position but he stated that he missed the cutoff so I’d have to wait until the next round of promotions. The year before that, he said that during the year, he was going to change my job title to a grade higher which never happened either.

So after my amazing performance review this year, a few days later, we received an email about officer promotions. Of course my name was not included for a promotion. So I forwarded the email and simply said I was told my name was submitted for an officer promotion and seeing that I didn’t get it, could he explain why and provide insight into how to improve.

He has not responded back to me although he has sent plenty of emails since and has responded to another email of mine. (It has been three business days and the weekend so 5 days total I have not received a response). The only thing I can think of is he is trying to lead me on by thinking if I’m promised these things, I’ll continue doing an amazing job. What are your thoughts?

  • 46
    It seems like he's avoiding the confrontation in regards to the promises he made to you. You can't pressure him on gunpoint to give you the promotion you think you deserve and that was promised to you - but it's up to you now to decide if you want to work for such a person.
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:29
  • 6
    The boss might be stringing you along. While you try to extract some answer from him, also consider updating your resume and looking for a new job elsewhere. Find another organization where you are not teased along with offers of promotion that never come. Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 15:51
  • 40
    If "amazing performance review" does not mean "amazing raise", then it's really not all that amazing. Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 23:11
  • 32
    My thoughts: don't use your name on the internet.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 9:01
  • 2
    Have you called this person on the phone and had conversation about your concerns?
    – Donald
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 12:03

5 Answers 5


Time to be a little more assertive: Schedule a 1:1 with your boss with the specific agenda of "career planning".

If he doesn't accept, ignores it or declines without comment you have your answer: your boss doesn't want to talk to you about it.

If he accepts, you have an "in". Talk about your goals, talk about your performance reviews and ask for specific actionable steps, metrics, and a timeline. If your boss is evasive and doesn't commit to anything, you have another answer: your boss doesn't want to promote you.

If the conversation is positive, you have at last a plan you can track to. Follow it closely and check in frequently with your boss to compare notes on progress.

Given past behavior the most likely outcome, unfortunately, is negative. In this case, you have a few options:

  1. Engage someone else in the company: a mentor, a trusted senior person, maybe HR (if they are decent) to find out what's going on.
  2. Look for different job/manager inside the company. Great performance reviews can help here.
  3. Look elsewhere.
  4. Make your peace with the situation, it's unlikely to change without you getting a different manager.
  • 12
    Nailed it. I have been in a similar situation as OP after colleagues of lesser skills/experience in other teams were promoted and I wasn't assertive enough (Either was my manager vs other managers). I decided to schedule the 1:1 and look for new jobs at the same time and I was told I'd be put forward in the next round of promotions (in 3 months) but I received a job offer I couldn't refuse elsewhere. The same day I put in my 4 week notice there was a pay increase and promotion being offered. (Obviously a retention policy kicked in to try and keep me). I'm happier in my new position. Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 11:58
  • 1
    I would add to your second option, that OP could try to apply for the higher position in another department directly, instead of waiting for promotion in the current one. (Of course feasibility depends on how big the company is and if there are any positions to fill.)
    – Chris
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 20:36

Two years in a row he has reneged on his verbal promise.

He's most probably not going to answer your email unless you persist, because he doesn't have a positive answer to give you.

  • 49
    Yep, a verbal agreement is worth the paper it is written on. Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 13:34
  • 9
    @Old_Lamplighter Technically they are legally binding though. If Op tries to talk to their boss again. It might be beneficial to record the conversation if their boss agrees with that of course.
    – skippy
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 15:49
  • 12
    @BobMeijer you know, the jokes are far funnier when I don't have to explain that they're jokes. Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 16:56
  • 25
    Pointing out the technicality is important though; some people might not know that verbal agreements can still be legally binding.
    – Enthus3d
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 18:58
  • 18
    @BobMeijer: It’s not a verbal contract, and it’s not a verbal offer of a promotion, it is simply the OPs supervisor saying the supervisor will try to get the OP a raise/promotion. That isn’t even worth the paper it is written on. There is no agreement. The supervisor has legally promised nothing, and is not legally bound to do a thing. A blank sheet of paper would be more valuable.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 0:04

The carrot was always a lie

Based on the description in the question, this sounds like the classic "dangled carrot" scenario. The reward is always just one step out of reach. "Next time. Next time. Next time..." But just as the horse never gets to enjoy the carrot dangled in front of its face--it's just there to keep it plodding along serving its owner, so the employee in this type of scenario never gets the promised promotion or raise--it's just there to keep them serving the abusive employer.

So if you want a promotion, most likely you need to look elsewhere. It sounds like the carrot (i.e. the promised promotion) is a lie.


If your supervisor had said that it might take a year or two, I would counsel patience, in some organizations it simply takes a long time. In those case, that’s not the supervisors fault, just reality and one needs to determine if the position is worth the wait. But that’s not what your supervisor did, your supervisor has promised and not delivered.

Your supervisor has strung you out for two years, without giving you anything but broken promises and praise.

If you are satisfied with that, you should stay there, and you will almost certain continue to receive both.

If you want something else, you’re going to have to look elsewhere for it.


Almost three years without a promotion and yet never a complaint about the OP's performance is certainly worth investigating.

My thoughts: sexual discrimination has not been beaten into submission. Not yet.

Of course, the username could be completely false and the OP could be a white, college-educated American or British man in their 30s. In which case, please ignore everything I am about to suggest.

In the OP's shoes, if they identify as being a woman, I'd do a little research and find out if any other employees, female and non, have been promised and denied promotion. And if the OP also happens to belong to a minority group…well… after waiting two weeks for their boss to reply, I'd certainly raise the issue, in private, with someone I could trust not to be absolutely discreet.

To be clear, this is an "if everything else fails" strategy. I do not know how large this company is, if HR can be trusted, what the OP's manager or colleagues are like, but maybe talking to someone, who is known to be friendly with the boss, might work. Around the water cooler, during break, at lunch, retell the situation clearly and truthfully to the colleague, and ask for their advice. Be sure not to accuse the manager of sexism but hint that you might need to search for new employment because you cannot fathom why you don't deserve a promotion.

The colleague warns the boss about a valued employee who is unhappy and confused. Upon hearing this from a different employee the boss might want to nip the problem in the bud, but it could backfire. As nobody wants a hostile work environment where employees believe managers are biased and consistently fail to reward amazing performances, the OP could be fired (seems an extreme reaction but nothing is too absurd these days) or the boss could finally reply to the OP's request for a meeting.

In the meantime, before setting off any alarms, the OP should search for new employment, just in case.

  • Does it matter if it’s sexual discrimination? If it’s not, should the OP stay longer? If it is, do you see staying and fighting it as a worthwhile endeavor?
    – jmoreno
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 19:41
  • 1
    I think you meant “I could trust to be”...
    – jmoreno
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 19:42
  • 1
    @jmoreno if it appears to be sexual discrimination then the OP has a stronger hand to play. Their boss is messing around with them, well two can play the same game. The OP might even have grounds to sue. Might. I'm not a lawyer and I don't know which country the OP works in. As for the second comment. No. Not a typo. I meant what I said :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 20:06
  • - It's two years without a promotion at the moment, the third year is just starting. If promotions are given only once per year, then the third year without promotion is set already. - "if they identify as being a woman" probably it doesn't affect only woman, but everyone that "is not a man born as such".
    – Chris
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 20:44
  • If it’s the OP is in the US, the EPA would probably be the easiest way to sue, but an EPA claim requires proof of causation, not correlation (doesn’t matter if equal pay is denied for all members of X, as long as the company’s reason isn’t because they are a member of X). I.e. “we string everyone along with a carrot for as long as possible” would be a valid defense.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 22:54

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