Bosses Are Sharing What Made Them Decide Not to Promote An Employee, And It’s a Lesson to Us All



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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
July 20, 2024 at 3:58PM UTC
Some employees expect that, just because they've been working with their company for a certain number of years, they deserve a promotion. But the reality is that, while company loyalty is absolutely respectable, it doesn't necessarily solely qualify someone for a higher-up position.
In fact, many bosses and managers have opted against promoting employees, even when those employees had been working under their supervision for quite some time.
Of course, this may be cause for concern. What might the manager not be doing to level up their employees? Or, if the employee still isn't deserving of a promotion, why haven't they been let go?
To better understand, we asked bosses to share why they've chosen to pass up on promotions for certain employees. Here's what they had to say.

1. They're reactive, rather than proactive.

"I've had to have a conversation recently with a team member who has always been a solid B to B+ player who said she was bored and wants to be promoted," says Emily LaRusch, CEO of Back Office Betties. "She is more negative in team chats than others and is outperformed by most people on her team. She does possess the ability to move into other positions but the reason she will not is because of her reactive approach."
LaRusch says that her employee is not outperforming anyone on her team and, instead of trying to improve, is instead complaining about how bored she is.
"A proactive approach would have gone something like, 'I am very interested in becoming a trainer. What performance objectives and/or projects can I complete to move towards this path?'" LaRusch suggests. "Taking a proactive approach and being direct about what you want to accomplish is always the best path forward."

2. They do their job just fine, but don't go above and beyond.

"I have an employee who has been working under me for two years now, and I'm pretty sure that he expects to be promoted sometime soon," says Kelsey, a graphic designer. "He comes to work every day on time, does his job and leaves. I'm certainly satisfied with his work, and he's doing well. It's just that he's competing against colleagues who not only do their jobs, but they also go above and beyond. While it's not in his job description to do any more than he's doing now, and I don't expect him to, I feel the need to reward the others who are simply working harder even though it's not asked of them."

3. They're on the verge of burnout.

"I have a woman who has been working for me for a few years now, and I've promoted her in the past for doing excellent work; she really cares about this job and it's obvious that she puts all of her energy into it," says Melanie, a landscape architect. "That's also the problem, however. I know she spends all of her time focused on and worrying about work, always sending emails late into the night and staying at the office later than the rest of us."
Melanie says that she has consistent conversations with her employee to "slow her roll" and assures her that "she doesn't need to get things done so ahead of time." According to Melanie, it's not that her employee has too much work; it's just that she's always doing more than necessary.
"I'm afraid to promote her because I don't want to give her any more or bigger responsibilities that could burn her out," she says. "I'm considering a small raise instead, and I plan to have another meeting with her soon to discuss the importance of a work-life balance."

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog,, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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