The 3 Habits Most Likely to Make People Seem Unpromotable

Hoping for a promotion? Stay away from these 3 problematic habits.

Woman and her boss


Taylor Tobin
Taylor Tobin1.84k

Strong employees, even those who really enjoy their current jobs, seek opportunities for growth whenever possible. If you want to stay at your company for a while, it makes sense to learn about what you need to do to rise within the ranks, and employers seek out workers with ambition who won’t settle for average performance and the stasis that follows. 

That said, a few small habits — all so common that you may not even notice that they’re happening — can interrupt your growth progress, and convince your boss that she’s better off leaving you exactly where you are. 

If your short-term (or long-term) goals include a promotion, keep these 3 tendencies that scream "un-promotable" at bay.

1. An inability (or disinterest) in working with a team

In some workplaces, employees who thrive when assigned solo work projects and who prefer to complete their tasks without the input of others can be enormously valuable to the company. However, if you’re in an environment where “promotion” means “elevated to manager status," the capacity to collaborate with others, to encourage your subordinates and to establish a positive work atmosphere for your team becomes crucial. Even if you’d rather go it alone at work, making it clear to your supervisors that you can perform strongly and communicate well in groups will boost your chances of promotion consideration. 

 2. A reluctance to discuss your growth possibilities with your boss

Unless you’re very junior (within your first year of employment at the company), you should absolutely feel comfortable discussing your hopes for advancement with your manager. Employers want to hire individuals with a desire to grow with the company. While any remark in the vein of “I want to have your job someday” is a bit over-the-top for a meeting with your manager, indicating your interest in doing whatever you can to position yourself for bigger responsibilities during your annual review will make it clear to your manager that you care about the work and the company.

3. An unwillingness to go above and beyond the responsibilities in your job description

Let us be clear here: working far beyond your scheduled shifts and taking on more responsibility than you can and should handle is absolutely not necessary for promotion consideration in any functional workplace (nor is it a smart move for professional or personal success in general). But at the same time, making a beeline for the door at 5pm flat and conveniently “forgetting” to respond to your boss’s email asking for extra hands on a particularly tough project doesn’t give the impression that you’re a formidable force on your team. If your boss knows that you’re willing to step in when needed and won’t balk at a slightly heavier workload from time to time, she’ll think of you as an employee she can trust, which can work to your benefit when you’re vying for a promotion.