Trying to Get Promoted? Avoid These Mistakes!

September 12, 2018


As we get into the tail end of 2018, it’s common for people to reflect on their professional performance over the last nine months, and to double-down on reaching those goals that have yet to be attained. With such high stakes and pressure, it’s critical to prepare—and avoid the following six mistakes.

  1. Appearing needy and greedy. When vying for a promotion, the goal is Dale Carnegie’s 14th Human Relations principle, ‘Get the other person saying, “yes, yes” immediately.’ Many employees make the make mistake of asking for entirely too much at once which will more than likely cause your boss to decline your request. Instead of asking for a promotion, raise, flexible working arrangements, etc. simultaneously, focus on what is most important to you.
  2. Assuming promotions are based solely on merit or length of employment. There are a variety of factors that impact who is ultimately promoted. Politics, company initiatives and other factors play a part, so it may not matter that you were the top performer on your team this past year, or that you outrank everyone else in tenure. Determine what you need to focus on beyond performing well by analyzing your corporate culture, the company’s 2018 initiatives and industry trends.
  3. Believing a promotion will be a professional panacea. As the adage goes, there really are no quick fixes. People sometimes perceive a promotion as a band aid for a broken job. If you’re working on a team that you believe you could lead much better than your current manager, take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. This will enable you to uncover areas in which you must grow, and identify accomplishments worth highlighting during the promotion discussion.
  4. Not making it mutually beneficial. Apply Dale Carnegie’s 17th principle, ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view,’ by considering your boss’ situation, motivation and desires. This will serve as input to the new list of responsibilities you propose. The goal is to create a win-win scenario, so be ready to explain how your taking on each new responsibility will benefit your boss.
  5. Ignoring wrong place, wrong time. Control what you can by ensuring sufficient time is allotted for the conversation; the venue is appropriate; and your boss hasn’t had a horrendously busy or bad day. For example, try to schedule the conversation for a time other than just before lunch or end of the day because you may not have ample time for the conversation.
  6. Behaving inappropriately. Most mature people already understand that life isn’t always fair. Whining about the fact that the company is looking outside for candidates only crushes your credibility. Likewise, comparing yourself to others who have already attained the level for which you’re striving is counterproductive. Dale Carnegie’s 1st principle, ‘Don’t criticize, condemn or complain,’ is key here. Keep the conversation upbeat and focused, and don’t complain.
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