Have you been passed over for promotion despite stellar results and glowing reviews?

Advancing in career is a natural aspiration for any professional who believes they have demonstrated their expertise, dedication, and leadership within their organization. It is frustrating not to be selected, especially if you get vague responses like – it was a close call, the chosen candidate was found more fit for the role, you need more seasoning, etc. You may find these responses vague, arbitrary, and even political. They are certainly not helpful in figuring out where you are falling short.

Let me share some scenarios that I have personally been through. I had the good fortune of having bosses who gave me candid feedback –

Scenario 1 –

Why I thought I deserved the promotion – I did everything great. I met all my KPIs and more. I thought I was a star.

What my boss saw – I was good at execution but did not display independent thinking and thought leadership.

Scenario 2 –

Why I thought I deserved the promotion – I consistently accomplished goals that others had not succeeded in achieving, and nobody wanted to take them up, any more. I broke all records. I thought I was a rock star.

What my boss saw – I was good at solving complex problems and driving an idea through to completion. I worked best in isolation. I needed to display evidence of excelling while collaborating with others.

Scenario 3 –

Why I thought I deserved the promotion – I met all my KPIs and more. I displayed initiative and drove cross-functional projects that added value. I made a difference all around. I had a happy team and clients and a happy boss too.

What my stakeholders saw – I was drowning in work. I could not take on more.   

With my battle scars in my corporate life and my experience as an executive coach, I urge you to consider the following as you prepare for your promotion. You may or may not hear these from your boss or HR –

Understand the requirements of the next level – You may have all the proof of having done well in the current role. You probably got recognized for the same in the form of an award or a bonus. You still need to figure out the expectation from the next level role and how to display your potential to meet those expectations already. Take the time to thoroughly understand the skills, leadership traits, experiences, and qualifications required for the position you’re aiming for. This insight will allow you to bridge any gaps and ensure you’re well-prepared for the new role.

Know the value of your role and its potential for growth – How does your role help your organization achieve its objectives? As your organization grows in its desired direction, what will be your team’s relevance in the larger context? Understanding this helps you decide the direction you want your career to take.

Know how you are perceived – What do the people who will work with you in your new role think about you? People like to work with those they know, like, and trust. If your stakeholders in your future role are indifferent to you or do not think you have the skills, influence, and gravitas to do the part, you will likely not get it. Therefore, it is essential to network strategically and consistently seek feedback.

In conclusion, securing the promotion you want as a mid-senior executive requires a proactive and strategic approach. Since your journey toward promotion is not solely about climbing the corporate ladder but about becoming a more impactful and influential leader within your organization, think about what will align you to organizational goals, strengthen your leadership, and establish your presence in your senior management.

PS – If this is an area where you are looking for help – Join me in the “Find the Key to Your Next Promotion” masterclass and learn practical tips to accelerate your career.