Summary: I have been in the same position for 7 years, and highly rated during each performance review. I am being passed over for promotion, and my manager doesn't give me clear plan for improvement. How I can convince my manager that I deserve a promotion?

A bit of background: unlike (I'm guessing) most people on StackExchange, I don't come from a tech background, but two years ago I started teaching myself Python. I work with data but in quite an old-fashioned, inefficient way (this is an industry-wide issue). Originally I saw coding as a way of automating repetive processes, and I've written scripts that save my team a fairly considerable amount of time per week. As my skills have improved I've found ways of innovating and adding value to our output. I'm no by means an expert but I know enough to make a tangible difference to my department.

We recently had a change of management team, and I interviewed for the role of senior manager. (The entire team was invited to apply; I was never a realistic possibility for the job.) Part of the interview was to present a vision of our team in the future, and I went heavy on my coding skills and what benefits they could bring. I didn't get the job but I was told that the panel were impressed by the vision I laid out, so next week I'm presenting to my new senior manager, plus other members of upper management. There's been talk of giving me a budget to lead a project developing these ideas.

So far so good. My issue is how best to treat this as a way to develop my career...

Backstory: I've been in my role for seven years and I've never really developed. Our annual reviews are scored 1-3, and in the last four years I've scored a three every year. Without wanting to place too much importance on a fairly arbitary score, that suggests to me that I'm a good performer. Despite that I'm still one of the most junior members of our team. Over the last two years roughly half our team have been promoted, one way or another, and I'm on the half that hasn't been. Ouch.

Our now ex-senior manager allocated our work, and I found him very vague and evasive whenever I spoke about development. I offered to take on more work at a higher level - that was important work so it needed to go somebody more experienced. I asked if I could shadow seniors and learn - there was no point me doing that because I was already performing well. I asked what other people were doing to progress and how I could do those things - I just needed to be patient and realise that there were people ahead of me. The coding work I was doing was a complete irrelevance to him, even when it was demonstrably improving the things our team did.

So after seven years in the job I'm one of the most junior members of the team (in tenure as well as responsbility; it's an extremely stable team and there are only two people in a team of 15 who've been here less time than me). But if this project goes ahead and it goes well, then I'll have delivered a major project with clear, provable benefits at practically no cost, and I'll have done it with skills that are unique in my team.

Given that, what's the best way for me to discuss the future of my role with the new management? I don't want to be aggressive and make demands based off a nice PowerPoint, but if I deliver then I'm far surpassing my job description and pay scale. After seven years of failing to make progress, and not getting a clear answer why, I'm starting to feel a bit fatalistic. What's a reasonable way for me to bring up these concerns and get an idea of where success in this project might leave my standing in the team and my career?

  • 1
    Probably best to actually complete the project successfully first. You and others will have a much clearer picture of it's importance and relevance after that since it's the first time. But from experience automating when done by an experienced person in the industry can go as far as taking over altogether as it's a rare niche skill.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 2:37
  • 2
    Look for a job elsewhere. See what your new skills are worth on the open market. Even if you don't accept any offer, knowing what you're worth on the open market and knowing how easy it is for you to find another job, it will give you the psychological edge necessary to assertively ask for what you want. Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 0:40
  • that sounds like "what is the best way to count chickens before cows came to roost" or whatever the saying it. Too early. Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 1:11
  • added summary - feel free to edit Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 1:14

3 Answers 3


Finish the project and make sure to nail it.

Once you've done that, you can then use that as the reason why you deserve the promotion. This is new management, don't blame them directly for your previous manager. But use the fact that you haven't been promoted (you did get pay-raises, right?) and that you haven't been given a development path as the foundation in the discussion. Request a development plan, and a plan how they see you grow within the company. They give you the opportunity to show what you've got, so use this as such. The fact that they want to give you this opportunity gives you leverage in these negotiations.

If this doesn't end up being satisfactory for you, look for a new job. Seven years of experience should be enough to get you interviews. This is assuming that you want to stay at this company.


I think you might need to decide what dimension you want to progress on. Technical / coding or managerial. In more tech focused companies, it is possible to combine both but by the sounds of things, then you work at a place where this is not the case.

Coding in this context might provide opportunities like the project but also hold you back. In some cases being indispensable as a technical expert can prevent you being promoted.

If you want to progress technically you may need to find work elsewhere. To progress managerially make sure you demonstrate skills on this front. Ability to manage upwards I.e. deal with challenging superiors. Understand departmental politics and develop a network within the company. Understand how to delegate, motivate people and do line management.

When doing the project emphasise these skills and de-emphasize your technical skills.


A common circumstance with regard to growth is that your current company may not have the required room for you to grow, independent of your readiness for it.

Decide where you want your growth to lie. IF its coding, keep working on your coding, and see if there are opportunities outside your company. Are you ready for them? If not, what do you need to be ready for them?

External validation is a very useful tool, in helping both you and your company decide your worth.

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