- Wise Words -
Stop the "Promo FOMO"
by kristen chaddock
In the beginning...
You’re new to the workforce, fresh out of college or taking your first “real” job after some time off. You start off thrilled with your new salary, excited to start your new job and ready to impress. You work hard, get great performance reviews and good feedback from your boss and co-workers. But as time goes on, you see peers getting promoted instead of you. Or you see a new hire brought on for a job you know you could do. You’re frustrated and start to question whether or not you’re appreciated and wonder what the point is of working so hard, just to be passed over.
Some of the thoughts running through your mind might be:
My manager keeps telling me what a great job I’m doing, why am I not getting promoted?
Why did they hire/promote someone into that job instead of me?
I do way more work than them!
I’ve been here longer, I should be the one getting promoted!
Maybe I need to look for another job if I am not appreciated here!
I have personally been on both sides of this scenario, as an employee and as a manager so I feel your pain! However, there are a few key things I’ve learned along the way which I hope will help set more realistic expectations for you and lessen your frustration in these situations.
1. Don’t expect a promotion just for doing your job.
This one is a biggie and is something my first “real” boss taught me. It’s such a simple concept, but was definitely an "a-ha" moment for me. You may have been in your job for a year or more. You may be awesome. You may be doing an excellent job. But you may just be doing the job you were hired for. Remember that job description that outlined the things you’d be responsible for? That is what you were hired to do, and what you are getting paid to do every day you come to work. The bonus of doing a good job at it? You get to keep your job. Congrats!
Promotions happen when you continually go above and beyond in your job duties. In general, you will be doing 50+% of the job you get promoted into, before you even get that promotion. Is that fair? Yes. Think of it this way - if you were applying for the position fresh off the street and possessed few of the experience and skills for that position, would you get hired just because you were really good at another, different job? Of course not. So it goes for getting promoted. You first need to prove that you have appropriate experience and skill level to succeed in that job, by going above and beyond in your current job.
It goes without saying that you should get recognition and appropriate salary increases for being excellent at your job. But it does not mean you’re owed a promotion.
2. Don’t make assumptions about why you’re not getting promoted.
There are many factors that go into promoting/hiring someone. Don’t presume to know the reason that another person got promoted or hired over you. Don’t automatically assume that you are being passed over or are under appreciated.
If someone else got the job you thought should have been yours, the most likely reason is that they are simply more qualified or experienced. Although you may not see them as more qualified, understand that the reasons your manager had for hiring them are not always going to be obvious to you. It does not always equate to tenure on the job, or hours per day spent in the office, or number of projects completed. Experience can come from previous jobs or internships, even ones held many years prior, of which you may be completely unaware. Experience or qualifications can come in the form of a degree or advanced degree that is related to the job at hand. Qualified may simply mean they have shown the hiring manager that they possess more of the skills (personal and professional) needed to succeed in that specific role.
The key is not to focus on why that person got the job instead of you. The key is to focus on your own performance. Talk to your manager. Find out exactly why you did not get the promotion. Have a discussion about why you may not be succeeding as quickly as you’d like. A good manager will work with you on a career development plan to help you advance as quickly as possible. If you have a manager who won’t do this, find a mentor (at work, or through a professional network) to fill this role so you can move your career forward.
3. Don’t stop giving your all, you never know who’s watching.
It’s difficult sometimes to keep working hard when you feel frustrated or stagnant in your job. You may feel like “phoning it in" for a little while. However, this will do nothing to further your career, and may even damage it. You can never go wrong by having an excellent work ethic and putting your best work out there. Even if you feel your current manager does not appreciate it, you can bet that there are others paying attention who do.
Your next job or promotion may be in an entirely different org within your company, with someone who was impressed by your level of work and professionalism. Your next job or promotion may be at an entirely different company, brought on or recommended by someone who was impressed with you and your work.
The reward for all this good work may not be a promotion at all. Sometimes when a promotion is not available or appropriate, a manager can show appreciation for you and your work via a bonus or other type of recognition.
There truly is no negative consequence that can come from consistently putting out great work. At best, you’ll get the recognition you deserve. At worst, you have a great portfolio of work to take to your next interview.
So, my words of wisdom for you: Be realistic about the difference between work that shows you’re good at your job and work that is worthy of a promotion. Keep an open dialogue with your manager and focus on your own career path, it’s the only one you have any control over. Always put your best effort into your work no matter how frustrated you feel, your career will never suffer from having done so.
For more on career management and promotions see: "To Move Up, Manage Up", "Surprise your boss. Ask for a career plan and not a raise", "Opportunity Calls. How You Sometimes Need To Leave To Rise"