Literally every week I hear from clients, course members and readers who share that they feel they deserve a promotion or raise (or both) and just aren’t getting it. These professionals may have brought the subject up to their boss, had a meeting about it, pushed for it, or just emailed their supervisor or HR about it, but it’s falling on deaf ears.
They ask me this:
Kathy, how do I get the promotion I deserve?
The question I offer in response usually unsettles folks, but it's eye-opening. It’s this:
“Ok, can you tell me exactly why you feel you deserve this promotion?”
Almost invariably, they cannot provide a clear, articulate or well thought-out answer, with measurable statistics, data, facts and supporting information. They just feel that they are owed or deserve this boost in level or money.
If you believe you deserve a raise and/or promotion, I’d like to suggest that you answer all 10 of the questions below, as deeply, thoughtfully and honestly as you can:
1. What prompts you to feel that you deserve a promotion or raise? Is it emotionally based (“I’m not recognized or valued enough”) or is it fact-based?
2. Is your answer grounded in measurable, specific findings, data, research, results and outcomes that you’ve delivered, or is it just a hunch that you might be underpaid or undervalued?
3. Do you know what other people in your company and outside of your organization at your level are earning today?
4. Do you have data that supports that you’ve executed your job functions in a superb way, and have demonstrated clearly to leadership that you can and will rock it at the next level?
5. What have you done specifically (the needles you’ve moved, the contributions you've made, the revenue you’ve helped generate, the problems you’ve solved, the streamlining of processes that you’ve achieved, etc.) that illustrates your readiness for more responsibility?
6. Do you have a great support among your peers, managers, and those who work for you? Will folks endorse you and stand up for you?
7. Is there anyone in the organization who acts your sponsor – a mentor and supporter who also has the clout and influence to speak up and advocate on your behalf when you’re not in the room?
8. Have you interviewed outside your company in the last four months and know where you stand competitively in the marketplace?
9. Are you ready to accept (and act on) honest, open feedback from your supervisor and others about what you need to do differently in order to be seen as more of a leader?
10. Do you know exactly where you stand in terms of how you’re thought of and perceived in the company?
Once you can answer every one of these questions clearly and confidently, you’ll be much more ready and able to advance at your company. But if you can’t answer these, and just have a gut feeling that you should be promoted, I’d offer these suggestions:
Know where you stand inside and outside this company
So often, professionals are stuck in a vacuum of their current job, and haven’t been networking or exploring opportunities outside of their employer. That’s a mistake. When we’re not connecting with industry professionals outside of our place of work, we have blinders on – about what we have to offer, how we’re doing, the salary and benefits we can command, and how we fare against the competition. If you want a promotion but aren’t getting it, seek to figure out exactly where you stand competitively in the market, and also get some 360 feedback at your company to understand more clearly how you and our talents, skills and leadership potential are perceived.
Find a sponsor at your company who has great influence and clout, and will gladly support new growth opportunities for you
Sponsors are leaders and highly-visible and influential professionals who serve not only as your mentor but who also have the power and clout to open doors for you and help you ascend and grow through their advocacy on your behalf.
Research has shown that men tend to be more adept at acquiring “sponsors” and that women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. This contributes to the harsh reality that women who are equally qualified for higher level jobs experience fewer promotions than their male counterparts.
According to one study, women are 15% less likely to be promoted than their male colleagues, and in the case of the first step up to manager, for every 100 women who get promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted. Conscious and unconscious bias plays a factor here, but achieving sponsorship can help women overcome institutionalized bias and reach higher levels more effectively.
The truth is that we simply can’t achieve the huge dreams we have for ourselves without the powerful help of others. We need a well-connected and influential support network that will go to bat for us, and help us stand up and stand out.
Gain more positive exposure
In your role right now, seek new opportunities that will showcase your talents and your leadership abilities in a bigger way. Don’t just allow your current job functions and responsibilities to dictate what you focus on and contribute to. Pursue what you're passionate about. Find or spearhead a new project that will help you shine, and volunteer to lead it, contribute to it or support it. And identify others in the organization whom you admire and who are well-respected, and develop stronger bonds and connections with these people.
Release your emotionality over not being valued enough, and start performing at a higher level today
I’ve seen that so many people bring emotional trauma and baggage to their jobs, around not being validated, recognized, heard or valued. (I've lived this and know how damaging it can be to a career.) Much of this trauma stems from experiences in childhood, especially for those who were raised in emotionally manipulative families or with narcissistic parents or authority figures. If you chronically feel passed over, undervalued, and “invisible” or that you're never good enough, and can't advocate powerfully for yourself (and if this experience follows you wherever you go), it’s important to realize that you’re “co-creating” these patterns. Inner work (coaching, therapy, etc.) will help you release the pain and experience of being undervalued, so you can shift this dynamic forever.
Set up a meeting with your supervisor, and discuss your plans for expanding your role
Finally, now that you've done all this, it's time to speak with your supervisor in a professional, compelling way about your wish to grow and contribute at a higher level. Don't make your case via email - do this in person, in a scheduled meeting. Bring your notes, and make your case, with well-grounded information, and share the "20 facts of you" and what you've achieved and accomplished. If your boss says you're not ready for a promotion and raise, ask for specifics as to why, and elicit his/her support to build a career-growth path with you. Identify together specific, measurable steps and tasks that you can revisit in three months. And ask your manager for support to help you achieve those goals.
Read the original article on Forbes.