Prepare For Your Next Promotion

Picture by Christine Hume

As we head into the last months of the year, companies begin to plan their end of year reviews and leaders begin to envision the goals they would like to tackle next year. If you’ve realized you are ready for more responsibility and to take on bigger challenges as a leader, or you want to get ready than read on to learn more about how you can prepare for your next promotion.


As you prepare for your next promotion, it’s important to know that every company treats promotions differently. If you’d like to learn more about understanding your companies view of promotion, I recommend reading a previous post entitled, Get Promoted. Start By Understanding Your Company’s Requirements. In it, I share my knowledge working in Human Resources and what I learned about promotion along the way.

The first question I always ask someone who wants to get promoted is why. Some answer new opportunities, others mention growth and contribution, and for others, it seems like the next step.

So, I’ll ask.

Why Do You Want to Be Promoted?

Beyond making more money and being recognized for your work, I want you to think about what promotion would mean to you. The best answers will focus on the company and organization, not just you. Whatever, your reason, find another answer then because, I worked hard and I deserve it, or others are getting promoted and I should too. With these answers, your promotion conversation won’t go far.

Working in HR and as a coach, I’ve heard many reasons. I worked harder and more. I’ve accomplished more. I need the title to demonstrate that I can provide for my future wife. I have to prove that I can become a VP by the time I’m 40. 

For many of us, myself included, our title means something. At the companies, I worked with the cliff was Director. Once you were a Director you were invited to Leader’s Day activities, new development program opportunities opened up, and you were invited to leadership company updates. Those who were left at the office on Leaders’ day joked that we were happy because there would be fewer meetings and work could get done. Some were truly happy that the leaders aways, others weren’t. If you want to be a certain level, check-in with what’s motivating you.

The next question I’ll usually ask my clients is, how do you define success? Is Success a level and title or does it mean something else? Through this question, I help clients start to think about their purpose, priorities, and values to make sure they are climbing the right career ladder. 

Get Ready to Be Promoted

Once you’ve decided that you want to be promoted, let’s talk about how you can make that happen.

  1. Most important- Ask. Your manager needs to know you are interested in being promoted and must support you. I recommend emailing your manager that you’d like to talk to them about the possibility of promotion and set up a meeting to talk about it with them. During the meeting, your agenda is to share with your manager your intent on being promoted and why you want to be promoted, ask them what they see as the requirements to be promoted and the gaps in your potential and performance. A trap here is to speak in generalities, get specific and define actionable steps. Be bold and ask them what they see as the potential timeline to get promoted. Then act and keep them routinely updated on the progress you are making.
  2. Dress for Success. Once you know what is different about being at the next level, act as if you were already promoted. Demonstrate to your leadership team that you have the skills that are needed and you are ready for more complex challenges
  3. Demonstrate your willingness to grow. Create a Career Development Plan and share it with your manager. This is a great way to summarize and track areas of growth.
  4. Build support. Know who in your company supports your advancement and is willing to advocate for you.
  5. Focus on results & share them. It’s not enough to work hard, you need to talk about your key results and the outcomes of your work. Your leadership team wants to know that you can deliver on key business goals.
  6. Keep a positive attitude. Getting promoted can take time, some times years. It helps to keep a positive attitude, focus on your personal definition of success and keep advocating for yourself.
  7. Raise other’s performance. Part of being a key member of the team is demonstrating that besides investing in your performance you can develop your team's careers and support your manager’s success.
  8. Demonstrate that you can solve problems. For a leader to be promoted, your manager will want to see that you can identify and solve problems. There is a turning point in every career where we no longer go to our manager with problems, expecting them to solve them. Instead, you go to them with solutions asking for their feedback and support.
  9. Be committed and know how long you are willing to wait. The large the scope of your role, the longer it can take to be promoted. At each level, your leadership team wants to see that you have the longevity at your current level to have a sustainable impact. Always have a Plan B. If you don’t get the promotion, it may be the size of your company. If the promotion is important enough, know when you will start looking outside of your team and the company for a new opportunity.


About the Author

Kim-Elisha Proctor is an Executive Coach, teacher, and writer. For over 15 years, she has worked with companies at all stages of growth and understands the complexity of organizations and leadership that is needed for success. Whether one-on-one coaching, with groups or delivering leadership development programs, her passion is the same: to support leaders to enhance their performance, impact, purpose & well-being to create communities they long to belong to.

Kim-ElishaAgency, Create & Navigate Change, Lead Smarter