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Quick background:

I have been in my role for about 2 years now and have been receiving good ratings throughout my mid year and year-end reviews (4 out of 5). I've stood out amongst my team members by contributing in different aspects and also am a line manager with some direct reports that are reporting to me.

I started at the bottom in this team and have risen two ranks above. My first promotion came within a year into the job and then the next promotion a year later. FYI it's now been 2 year since my last promotion (understandably since you climb up the ladder, it gets harder to be promoted and typically takes longer).

Additionally my manager is somewhat new to the role (being in the role in the recent 3 years only started off where I am in my role now and promoted to a manager - skipping a position).

Issue:

I have recently requested my manager for a promotion (after first checking with him whether there are any gaps or concerns with my performance in this role to which he has initially said none during our last 1-1 and recently in my year-end review, he has mentioned a small gap (non-showstopper after confirming and is more of a feedback than a gap).

The promotion request was not denied, but he was surprised that i am requesting for a promotion and feels that I need to gain more recognition in my current role to be considered for promotion and he does not know the responsibilities needed for the position that i am after (which is 1 level/rank below his position).

He cited that he needs to check with his line manager to check and know what that position entails as in this region, no one has been to such a role/position before (but there are others in other regions across the globe).

My concerns:

I'm concerned that what i have done in the past 2 years have not been heading to the next level/position that i initially thought i was and it is concerning that my boss is surprised i requested for a promotion. but what's more surprising is that he does not even know what responsibilities it entails and whether i am qualified for a promotion, other than the fact that I need to gain more recognition (from upper management) for my work (similar to a college who has recently promoted to my current role).

However, he did mention that the opportunity does need to present itself before i can gain recognition...to me, recognition is very subjective - you can do a great job but nobody recognises it and obviously it depends on opportunity as well..so this concerns me greatly that to get a promotion, i would probably need to depend on...luck?

What would you do if you were in my position?

Looking to hear your thoughts and advise on this matter. Thanks guys :)

  • 8
    What is your line of work? In some industries promotions are very rare and in others you can expect a steady flow upwards if you keep performing well. In general, your manager's concerns are reasonably valid, for instance it's important to watch out for people continuing to receive promotions until a point where they are no longer suited to the job at hand... – Cronax Feb 23 '15 at 16:20
  • Is there a vacancy or need in your region for the role you are looking to be promoted into? If not, it will be hard to convince your manager that such a promotion is warranted. – Eric Feb 23 '15 at 17:44
  • I almost voted to close this, as it is a situation pretty specific to your company (as well as being a "What to do" question). Some companies are like the military, which specific skill assessments and timetables for advancements. Some companies are almost completely unstructured, giving "promotions" to whoever does the job, and handing out a "title" afterwards. And of course, a whole spectrum in between. It sounds like you and your manager have different perceptions of your company's culture. Can't tell you who's right. – Wesley Long Feb 23 '15 at 18:43
  • Just to add - I'm in IT support line – Jacob Leong Feb 24 '15 at 23:11
  • On IT promotions are very rare at tech field, only juniors can expect one promotion a yer. When you hit senior you cannot expect no promotion at all. – lambdapool May 12 '16 at 15:15
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First, it is how well your experience is perceived to be relevant that is important not whether it is. To that end you are just expecting others to see you as ready for promotion and not actively pursuing it by making sure that others are aware of your accomplishments.

Your area has not had that postion, so he probably was suprised that you wanted it since there is no current opening. And since you don't currently have the postion, it is nto suprising he would not be aware of the requirements especiially since he apparently skipped it.

Further, since you don't appear to understand the conccept of self-promotion, he probably thought you were not interested in moving up. (another possible reason why he was suprised.) Once you get beyond the entry level or a general training progression (Jr/Intermediate?senior) that is guaranteed to all who perform well, then you must actively let people know what you are doing and how well you are doing it and how it relates to the job you want to have.

You have taken the first step in telling him you were interested in a promotion, but he has clearly told you that you have no visibility in theorganization in order rto be considered for one. That is the very first thing you need to fix. You cannot rely on luck, you have to actively push yourself foward.

Management is all about politics, if you don't play the game well at your level, you will not get considered for the next level of manangement postion because politics are a huge part of your job duties (in many managment postions, it is well over 50%). So you need to start making connections and making your work more visible if you expect to ever get to the next level. You cannot passively wait for someone to recognize how wonderful you are and promote you.

At a bare minimum you need to real several books on office politcs and start putting the techniques to work. If the good employees refuse to play the game, they cannot then complain when the players get promoted.

Office politics doesn't have to be about being a snake who steals credit and sabotages people. But it is about making connections with the decsion makers and being seen by them as someone who they can rely on and who is interested in moving up.

Look at it from the senior manager's point of view. Tom and Jim are both up for promotion and the decision maker has heard good things about Tom and met him and liked him and all he knows about Jim is that he is assigend to XYZ department. (Or worse, all the have heard about him are things that were his mistakes. Maybe Tom makes as many or more mistakes, but he has made sure that his good things are given more weight.) Remember after the minimal level of journeyman performance, generally more than one manager has to approve a promotion. So which if these two candidates does the senior manager favor?

And after you reach a certain level in the organization, every promotion is a competition. It is not enough to be good, you have to be good in comparision with your competition. And that is mostly based on the manager's perceptions of you not necessarily any objective comparision (as if it were even possible to do an objective comparision which is generaly is not, you have skills and weaknesses and so does your competition. Any two managers will value those differently.).

If the postion is not currently available, many more people will need to get involved in deciding that the position will be opened up. There are budgetary reasons why the position may not currently exist. So there will be many people who have to sign off on it. It is an easier sell for your manager if those people have heard good things about you and know you.

  • A reasonable answer. Just to let everyone know is that i'm pretty well known within the organisation and my work is pretty visible but most of my work has been centered towards management related stuff. However my manager seems to want me to be recognised (on what appears to be) for technical related stuff instead which is why he cited to be like my college who has gained a lot of recognition in his technical area of expertise. In the team I do bring different skillsets and should not be compared to my other colleges which incidentally, I do stuff that he (my other college) can't do – Jacob Leong Feb 24 '15 at 15:15

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