How should you ask for a promotion

Feel as though you’ve been in your role for far too long and really should have had an opportunity to move up, gain more responsibility and learn something new? But what do you say to your line manager? How do you prepare for that conversation? And what do you need to know on the day?

This is THE conversation that needs preparation. You need to make the case for why you should be promoted, what you want from the promotion and how it will benefit the company. You’ll also need to consider all the ways that your line manager will say no to your proposal and what your next steps should be. 

With that in mind, here’s how you should approach the conversation you are going to have with your line manager about your potential promotion. 

What is it you want?

The first part of the process is to think about what you want from the conversation, and ultimately promotion. You also have to rule out what you won’t accept, as it’s likely you won’t get everything you ask for. Is it that you want to be involved in a new project, more managerial responsibility or is there a position (either lateral or above you) that you think you could move into? For all of these, how can you show that you are ready for that new identity in the workplace and how will the company benefit from you being the one to take on the responsibility? 

Do your research

There’s so much research that needs to be done before you go into that meeting room!

Firstly, you need to scout out your reputation within the company. Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are and how people have responded to your performance in the past. This can help you when it comes to negotiating - you can use examples of how you’ve performed on a project and can also formulate responses to those who might have concerns about you rising up the ranks. 

You can also speak to colleagues that have asked for and gained a promotion to find out any inside tips and tricks and see how they managed to get themselves on the next rung of the ladder.  There might be some very useful strategies that you hadn’t thought of. 

Secondly, if you are interested in receiving a salary increase, you should find out more about the salary you deserve should be. You can then come to the table with a salary benchmark in mind that you wish to achieve and think reflects your worth.

Thirdly, how will your promotion affect the rest of the company? Will it be smooth and easy moving into something else, or will you need to hand over some of your responsibilities? Who might this be to and how are you going to make this transition easier?

Build your case

You might know why you deserve that promotion, but you have to make this case to your line manager. Spend time writing down your top achievements and accomplishments - and use facts to back these up. For example, if you saved the company money, how much did you save? If you’ve implemented processes that have speeded up the delivery of their products, how much is this by? If you’ve opened the doors to new customers, who are they and how are they driving the revenues of the company? And how have these aligned with the company’s goals?

Having spoken to colleagues about your reputation within the company, ask those that know you well and have worked within different capacities for recommendations and endorsements. This way, you can show your line manager that it’s not just you that believes you to be capable of doing your job well. 

Think about the timing

Although there’s no time that’s going to be perfect, there are some times that aren’t ideal. In the midst of COVID might be one of them, when they are trying to save as much money as possible and scale back on certain parts of the business, but equally, it might be the time when your company wants to branch out into something new and you can step up and be the employee that takes on that new project. 

The most obvious time is to ask during your annual or six-monthly review but remember at this time you still need to prove why you deserve the promotion you are asking for. 

Plant the idea

Rather than asking for a promotion being a one-off conversation, it’s more likely to be a number of conversations over a period of time. Therefore, instead of setting up a meeting with your line manager to ask for a promotion, set up a meeting to have a conversation about your prospects within the company, how you could progress to the next level, or take on further or alternative projects or responsibilities. 

Once you’ve taken these projects on, you can continue to show your growth as well as your performance, and this can then lead to a conversation about how much your new responsibility requires a promotion, both in terms of money and level within the company.

Be patient

You won’t be promoted on the spot, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t achieve the results you want as quickly as you had thought possible. If you are gaining the opportunities you want and increasing your impact within the company, then the conversation about remuneration for this will come. However, if you are not achieving this, then maybe now is the time to consider a new adventure where you will gain the opportunities you are after. 

Let us know in the comments below whether you found our roadmap useful in gaining your promotion.


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