If You Aren’t Doing These 8 Things, You Probably Won’t Get Promoted, According to CEOs

If You Aren’t Doing These 8 Things, You Probably Won’t Get Promoted, According to CEOs


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Angling for a promotion? Unfortunately, promotions aren’t based on performance alone. Often, they’re more so based on the perception of your performance — and that’s perhaps especially true in corporate environments. 

Want to feel confident that you’re perceived as promotable — not in two or three promotion cycles from now, but today? CEOs we heard from shared with us the main qualities they look for that indicate to them whether someone is ready to be promoted. Here’s what they had to say.

1. They’ve demonstrated their ability to perform well under stress.

“I look for someone who has a proven track record of handling responsibility and stressful situations,” Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass, said. “A promotion always means more of both and it's important that the promoted employee not be buried by the increase.” 

2. They regularly question how things are done.

“As a CEO, I want a leader who can make decisions not just by the book, but through his/her sound judgment,” Aaron Simmons, founder of Test Prep Genie, said. “Enough with leaders who would just nod in acceptance in following your instructions. A leader with a sound judgment would assess the situation first and determine whether the order would benefit the company or not. Such a leader, instead of plainly obeying orders, would suggest better options that would foster the development of the company.”

3. They connect well with others at work, thanks to having a high EQ.

“When should you promote an employee? When the employee shows the essential level of EQ to manage other workers,” Daniel Carter, founder of ZippyElectrics, said. “This is an important thing that employers like me should always consider before promoting someone. Always give the promotion to an individual who won’t just lead the workforce; find a person that can sympathize and understand others, as well. This will ensure that you promote a favorable and employee-friendly workforce in your company.”

4. They demonstrate big-picture thinking.

“I tend to promote people who are able to understand the bigger picture of their department,” Dan Bailey, President of WikiLawn, said. “Every employee has a role to play, but those who advance understand how those roles all fit and work together. They also understand how to optimize that process. They take it upon themselves to learn more about how everything works, as well.”

5. It’s clear that they’re already working above their title. 

“A tell-tale sign that a promotion is waiting is when a member of the staff is already doing senior tasks beyond their job responsibilities, especially if it’s done through their own initiative,” Marc Gadson, Director at Logicata, said. “It could be they’re a natural at a more senior role or they are taking on extra responsibility to impress management; either way, these are good traits to have — natural leadership and ambition.”  

6. They show consistency. 

“Consistency means reliability, and I only want to promote reliable team members,” Robert Stam, CEO and Online Marketing Expert at SEO Mandarin, said. “Reliable managers set good examples for other staff, and I know their work will always be up-to-scratch… Some employees may occasionally surprise me with outstanding work, and while this is commendable, it is not promotion-worthy because it doesn't indicate to me that I can trust that employee with more responsibility.”

7. They’ve demonstrated comfort with making decisions. 

“For an employee to be promoted beyond an entry-level role, they need to become a decision maker,” Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, said. “This criteria likely doesn’t mean massive, pivotal decisions for the business, and instead can be small, day-to-day decisions. The reason that showing this skill is so important is that it moves projects forward and shows that the employee can take factors into consideration above and beyond their own role.”

8. They’ve made it clear that they themselves crave more responsibility.

“Employees also need to be hungry for more tasks to become worthy candidates for promotion,” Max Harland, CEO of Dentaly, said. “Driven employees are the most worthy individuals for promotion. Not only are driven people producing high-quality work, but they also spread their positive attitude and energy to their coworkers, making them excellent leaders.”