In theory, the path to landing a promotion seems straightforward: if you work really hard and you’re great at your job, you should be ready to take it to the next level. Yet getting a promotion often isn’t all that simple. Work ethic and results are crucial, yes, but they’re not the only things that matter when deciding whether an employee should be promoted or not. Promotions don’t just come when an employee works hard; they also come when there’s a manager who advocates and fights for an employee’s best interests.
If you’re going above and beyond and still not seeing a new title in your future, here are some signs it may not be your fault — and that your manager’s the one to blame.
1. They don’t offer you new opportunities.
If you’re hoping to land a promotion, you’ll need to go out of your way to show that you’re qualified and dedicated to helping your company succeed. Yet you can’t take advantage of every opportunity that may help you grow your career if you don’t know all of the possibilities. If you’re looking for more ways to expand your skills and take on more responsibility, your manager should not only pass along relevant opportunities, but also help you find new opportunities within the company so you can learn and grow.
2. They leave you out of important conversations.
If your manager wants you to succeed, they should make sure you’re up to date on key company conversations, especially ones that discuss strategies and goals that relate to your work. While you may not be invited into every meeting room or Zoom call, your manager should relay important company information to you to ensure you’re aligning your goals and strategies with what the company is looking for long-term. If they’re not looping you in, you might be out of luck when it comes time for promotions.
3. They don’t challenge you.
A manager that challenges you is one that’s setting you up for success — and potentially a promotion down the line. While a manager shouldn’t be throwing new work on your plate that you have no idea how to handle, they should be challenging you to work with other teams, develop new projects and learn new skills. Promotions happen when an employee has developed more qualifications and gained experience. If your manager isn’t challenging you and encouraging you to take on new and advanced opportunities, chances are you won’t be qualified when it comes time for promotions,
4. They’re not curious about your career goals.
Promotions are the key to advancing your career and getting to the professional place you want to be. If your manager doesn’t know where that place is, they can’t help you get there — whether that’s shifting your assignments to fit your interests, offering you opportunities to learn new skills you’d need or connecting you with others in the company who can help you grow. While you should make an effort to let your manager know your career goals, if they aren’t interested and don’t take any action, they’re not setting you up for a promotion that helps you reach toward your dream career.
5. They don’t follow through.
Your manager needs to do more than promise they’ll set you up for success. Maybe your manager listens to your career goals and gives you some hopeful next steps. You act based on their feedback and gain necessary experience — yet nothing happens on their end after you show your work. Maybe your manager tells you they’ll advocate for you in their next meeting with their boss, but when you ask how the meeting went, they say they didn’t get to bring it up and it never comes up again. If they’re not delivering on their word, even after you’ve made your intentions clear and showed your work, they may be stopping you from reaching the next professional level.
6. You’ve advocated for yourself before — but it’s never led to anything.
If you’re hoping for a promotion, you’ll not only need to work hard, but also advocate on your own behalf directly to your manager. If you’ve made a case for your promotion to your manager before, you should know why you haven’t gotten that promotion yet. If your manager was vague, didn’t give you feedback or never took any next steps, chances are they’re the one getting in the way of your career level-up.