Getting a Promotion or a Raise: Asking Isn’t Enough

A simple, but generally unsuccessful approach to getting a promotion or a raise, is to ask for one. Another generally unsuccessful way is to ask for one merely because you have been at your job for a certain amount of time.  And a sure way to guarantee that you won’t get a raise, is to tell your boss that you need more money because you just bought a new house.

That is to say, promotions and raises are not given. They are earned.

If you want to get promoted and/or a raise, it’s necessary to promote yourself. While I appreciate that you cannot literally do so yourself, you do have more ability to promote yourself than you may think.  I also recognize that it’s a tall order. But if you take a long road approach, and follow my mantra, you will succeed in moving your career, and hopefully your paycheck, ahead.

                Do your best; do some more; and let others know. 

Do Your Best:  Bare Minimums Don’t Result in Job Promotions

Do your job EXTREMELY well. This might sound like a loaded statement, but it’s something that many people forget to pay attention to when trying to climb the ladder.  You must keep doing your job—and doing it at 150 percent.  Look at everyone you work with as a ‘client’ and offer superb ‘customer’ service. Work to deeply listen, deliver appropriate responses in all situations, and follow up. Be timely, set realistic expectations, under promise and over deliver, and be flexible in your approach. Yes, you might be working outside of your job description, but you must also be doing your job description.

Do Some More:  Take on Additional Responsibilities and Help Your Boss Succeed

Look around you. What else can you do? Think creatively in an effort to institute a vision that allows you to show how you are different from your peers through risk taking, motivated thinking, and non-linear approaches.  Believe in teamwork and collaborate with your boss, your co-workers, your direct reports, and anyone else currently in your sphere of influence.  Getting ahead does not mean acting alone.  Be respectful of the chain of command and realize that there are two sets of rules—explicit and implicit.  Act in a proactive manner, don’t wait for your boss to make every move or command, seek information and offer your help when a project or task is presented, give your feedback, and finally—initiate action without supervision!

Even as you work to do the job you want, you should also develop the mindset that you are in fact, helping your boss succeed.   Remember, all managers want their direct reports to show loyalty, dependability, and sensitivity to the pressure they are facing.  Be respectful of your boss’s time and communicate information when it is provided to you.  Showing that you are a valuable team member as well as potential leader is important to your future career.

Let Others Know:  Let Your Work, or The Team, Do The Speaking, Not You

Letting others know about your accomplishments is a delicate matter.  Many people appropriately fear they will come across as too boastful. Or just plain obnoxious.  I do believe that merely telling people you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, or that your ‘x’ is better than anyone else’s, is in fact obnoxious. However, telling others about your terrific team’s accomplishments showcases your team, builds their morale, and thereby tells others that you are a good leader.  In addition, talk about your work’s accomplishment. The work, is literally the subject of your sentence. Not ‘I’.  For example, rather than announcing “I completed X-project on-time and under-budget” say, “The X-project was completed one month early on April 1st, and came in 20 percent under-budget.” Those are statements of facts, which will be positively attributed to you.

Also try to ‘strike while the iron is hot.’  That is, make a connection between a topic-at-hand with one of your accomplishments. Again, your work is the subject of your sentence, not you.  For example, when at a meeting discussing the upcoming marketing plan, you can share a plan that you’ve created and why it was successful.  Again, the plan’s success will then be positively attributed to you.

In addition to selling your team and your work, sell your ideas. Don’t simply talk about yourself and what you are capable of—ask questions and add value to every professional conversation and encounter you engage in.

And so, don’t assume that merely asking for a raise or promotion will get you want you want.  Rather,

                Do your best; do some more; and let others know.

And finally, ask yourself: Would you give yourself a promotion?  If so, why?  After all, promotions are earned, not given.