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The Right and Wrong Ways to Ask for a Promotion

If you’re eyeing a promotion at work, it’s a good idea to have a strategy in place to increase your chances of success, and part of that strategy should include understanding best practices for asking for a promotion, as well as common pitfalls to avoid. After all, whether or not you’re granted the promotion should be based on your performance, not your avoidance of professional faux pas—so read on for some key pointers before you go in for the conversation.

How not to do it…

In passing

Your request for a raise and/or promotion should be carefully thought out, so don’t ruin it by mentioning it in passing to your manager, which can make it appear to be a fleeting desire. That said, you should plant the seeds early, making it clear that you’re looking to advance and laying out a plan to do so—but don’t diminish the value of your request by springing it on your manager at an unexpected time.

Passive aggressively

If you’ve been wanting a promotion for a while, it can be challenging not to get frustrated—but try your hardest not to let it affect your work or your attitude when you do have the conversation with your manager. You’ll want to present your accomplishments and future outlook in the best possible light, and exhibiting shortness of temper or passive aggressiveness might make your manager question whether you’re emotionally ready for more responsibility.

Without evidence

It’s in everybody’s best interest to tie raises and promotions to concrete metrics and outcomes, as doing so helps to ensure equality amongst colleagues and makes it easier for employees to benchmark their performance. So it’s never a good idea to ask for a promotion without evidence of what you’ve done to deserve it, which can make you appear disrespectful of company policies or as if you think you’re above others who take the time to craft their request for a promotion.

Boost your chances of success

Know what you want

Before negotiating for a raise or promotion, do the appropriate research and reflection on what it is you actually want. Perhaps it’s simply more money, but you might be in the market for more responsibility, more power, a larger team, or something else. Further, sometimes a lateral move might make more sense than an upward move within the team.

Regardless of what you want, spend the time to figure out what it actually is, and craft your strategy and case around that. The evidence you provide as justification that you deserve the promotion may change based on what it is you’re asking for, so be honest with yourself about your goals and present them clearly when you actually make the request.

Prepare evidence of growth and success

Chances are your manager and colleagues won’t remember as well as you do what you’ve done and the impact you’ve driven, so compile your successes to use as leverage in making your case. This can include both qualitative and quantitative evidence of your growth, including KPIs or other metrics that demonstrate your impact on the business as well as examples that you’ve become a better team player and colleague. Often, your manager won’t be the person who actually approves promotions or raises, so providing this evidence can also help him or her to make a case for your promotion to the final decision-maker.

Choose the right time

Being sensitive to what’s happening in the business can also better your chances of success. If the company is going through a tough or stressful time, for example, you might be better off waiting until things have stabilized to ask for a promotion. Further, rolling up your sleeves during a more difficult time can be used as evidence to support your case when you do ask for it.

Instead, try to choose a time when things are going well, or after something good has happened, like a positive quarter or a new deal. In addition, take into account company policies or procedures for promotions. If, for example, reviews are performed quarterly, you’re probably better off waiting for the next review cycle than appearing impatient by asking one month before.

So how do you make sure you’re positioned to land the salary you deserve? Our Salary Negotiation Guide has everything you need.