In the U.S., we are currently watching the biggest (and most heavily covered) campaign for a promotion—the one to become the next President of the United States. Regardless of who gets the promotion from candidate to President-elect come November, the electoral process parallels the process, and questions, you should asking yourself if you’re being offered, or looking to ask, for a promotion.
Question #1: Should I always accept a promotion?
Answer: Generally speaking, yes – but the caveat is to determine whether the offer is really a promotion or simply increased responsibility dressed up as a promotion (i.e., no additional value to you). Be deliberate in responding to the promotion offer. In other words, before you say, ‘Yes,’ perform due diligence through a conversation with the person who is offering you the promotion and/or those with whom you will be collaborating.
Question #2. How do I evaluate a promotion opportunity?
Answer: Ask good questions, including a written description of the expectations and challenges that you will be facing when you hit the ground running. If you sense that the promotion is not really the direction you sought your career to go, but that leadership has you pegged for bigger and better things down the line, ferret out what this means. Is this a transitional opportunity leading to something bigger and better later? Or, is it simply a dead end?
If it’s transitional, you should continue the discussion, diving in for more detail. Don’t be afraid to ask for timelines, what the next step would potentially look like and how the current step would help set the stage for what is next. Also make sure to focus on the expanded responsibilities associated with the interim step — ask, “Would you be learning as much from this as the company would be gaining from it?”
Question #3: How can I ask for a promotion? Is asking taboo or cocky?
Answer: Months (even a year or more) before you are going to ask for the promotion, begin tracking your achievements and results so you can prepare a business case for your promotion. Also, look ahead at the opportunity or opportunities that attract you and match your experiences and accomplishments with the pain points of the target position/division/manager/leader associated with that role. In other words, create a promotion plan to present to your boss.
Conversations around promotions are unique and should be treated as such. Give yourself the time and space to think about what you are looking for, what your needs are and how you can prove that you are worth the additional investment your company would be making in you. The time you’ve spent working for your company will speak for itself, so long as you’ve mastered the elevator pitch that triggers memories of all the work you’ve done on their behalf. Practice, research and develop a strategy and you’ll be on your way.