Roadblocks to Landing a Promotion at Work

By Karen A. Young, SPHR; founder and president of HR Resolutions, LLC

Taking a hard look at how YOU, personally, may have contributed to not getting that coveted promotion is tough to do – very few people like to accept that they could have played a part in the Company’s decision. (Sometimes you really didn’t have anything to do with it.  There could have been any number of political reasons someone else was selected, OR, there might be something bigger and better down the road that you’ll learn about later).

So, what are some common Career Ending Moves (“CEMs”)?

#1: Saying No (more than once)

A good friend of mine recently asked me for input on a promotional opportunity he had been offered. His Company assured him he could stay in his current role without any issue at all, OR he could take this new opportunity (for which the Chief HR Officer had specifically tossed in his name). The first question I suggested he might ask was this: What happens to my FUTURE promotional opportunities if I say “no thank you” to this one? History has shown me that you are usually safe the FIRST time you pass up a promotion, but if you keep saying “no”, they will stop asking.

#2: Over Venting

It’s a fact that we ALL have bad days at work; even the boss! Do NOT post to Facebook (even though it’s your legal right to do so).  Do not alert the Twittersphere.  Do not blog about your beef.  NO MATTER WHAT! Find one (and only one,) confidante–preferably someone who doesn’t work where you do.

#3: Do not play in the rumor mill

A friend at work has shared with you a really juicy story about the new warehouse guy, and you can just imagine that it’s true. Look at it this way:  that “story” is nuclear waste, and you don’t want to be close to it if you intend to move up within your organization. (Who knew the warehouse guy was the Chairman’s nephew?) Step away from it.  Tell your work “friend” who’s passing the gossip to stop.

#4: Not Accepting Responsibility

We all make mistakes.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a mistake at work. What’s wrong is deflecting blame, looking for a scapegoat or otherwise not owning up. Sometimes it’s even appropriate to say that you’re not sure what happened but you’ll take the responsibility for seeing that it gets handled – and then do what you need to do.

#5: Kiss of Death

“Well, that’s not in my job description.” (I know I don’t need to say more about this CEM!) Even if it’s not in your job description, find a way to make it happen!

I’m sure it was after I was passed over for a few positions in my career path that I learned an incredibly important lesson from my father. “Those who need to see what you’re doing will see what you’re doing.” He meant: stop worrying about the other person and what they are doing; keep doing the right thing – ALWAYS.  And keep going above and beyond – ALWAYS. Become the “go-to” person in your Company, and “those who need to see what you’re doing will see what you’re doing!”

Karen YoungKaren Young is the founder and President of HR Resolutions. With over 25 years of human resources experience, Karen has been recognized by Governor Ed Rendell as one of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business and by the HR Certification Institute as a Senior Profession in Human Resources (SPHR.)

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