You’ve been on the job for a rather long time and you’ve gone above and beyond your duties to contribute to the company. You think it’s time for a promotion but it never seems to come. Should you ask your boss for a promotion? Yes. But how you do it can make or break the deal. First, watch what you say in the office every day. James Choles, Corporate Training Manager for Professional Development Centre at the British Council says, “Words have power. They can inspire, reassure, persuade or offend. It’s always important to choose your words carefully at work, but especially so when you’re aiming for a promotion.”
Step 1: It starts with language
He emphasises the importance of using positive language, even when it comes to words of affirmation. “Even very simple words like ‘yes’, ‘of course’, ‘absolutely’ and ‘right away’ can have a big impact on the people that you work with. And when your boss asks you do to something, try saying something like ‘I’d be happy to’, rather than ‘no problem’.”
He advises avoiding negative words like ‘can’t’, ‘won’t’, ‘impossible’, etc. “You should also be careful with any phrases that might indicate that you’re not ready for the promotion you’re aiming for.” For example, avoid saying, “I’ll try”, “What should I do?” or “I’m not sure”.
Step 2: How do you take things a step further and ask for that promotion?
Should you list down your achievements thus far or state what you would do if you got promoted? James reckons you should do both. “Your boss will definitely want to know about your achievements, so it’s worth preparing a compelling track record. Be assertive, but humble. Tell your boss about how your work has impacted the team’s performance and the bottom line, and make sure that you back this up with convincing data. For maximum effect, you could also weave in some personal stories of how your contributions have really made a difference.”
He also recommends thinking about your plans for the new role, in terms of vision, the impact you would make and what you would do in your first 90 days in the new capacity. “It’s important to be strategic here, and to try and align your ideas with both your boss’s vision and the broader objectives and mission of your organisation.”
Step 3: How do you answer the question: “Why do you deserve a promotion?”
“This sounds like a loaded question, so be careful!” James cautions. “Many employees feel that if they perform well for a long enough period of time then they ‘deserve’ to be promoted. But hearing this can be a real turn off for bosses, and if you play the entitlement card then you’re likely to be disappointed.”
He suggests to present your track record and highlight your contributions. You should also tell your boss how you’ll contribute in the future.
“This is also the perfect time to show your boss how ambitious you are by asking them some questions. Things like ‘What do I need to do to move to the next level?’, or ‘What can I do to contribute more, support you or add further value to the team?’”
He adds, “Finally, remember that actions speak louder than words, and that if you show interest in others and their achievements this will say a lot about your character and the kind of leader you’d be.”