Why it is Foolish to Expect an Internal Promotion

Your employer is paying you to do your current job because you are good at it.

Over the period of your employment, you have built relationships, hit deadlines, smashed budgets, completed projects, shared ideas and added value.

You feel secure in the knowledge that you are a worthwhile asset to your colleagues and bosses.

It is nice when that happens, and many of us are in that “happy” place.

Until we start thinking about the next step….

Why, oh why, can’t we be happy with our lot in life for a reasonable period of time?

I’m not sure that the “higher, faster, stronger” attitude that is blasted at us from all corners of social media is such a useful mantra for everyone. For some, it is definitely unhealthy.

When we feel that we are ready for a promotion, delusions of grandeur are easy to come by.

A suitable opening appears above us and we immediately picture ourselves stepping into those shoes.

We have mastered our current role, why wouldn’t the natural next step be a step up? Surely the management team would want to promote “one of their own.”

This is where mistakes are so commonly made.

For all the talk of people development and employee engagement, there is only one person who will get that job….

The BEST person for the job. That might not be you, it might not even be a colleague. Statistics show that it will probably be an external candidate, especially at the more senior levels.

A friend of mine was in exactly this situation a few months back.

She was pinning her hopes on a promotion and went all out to impress over an extended period of time.

However, she took the unwise step of saying that she would have to look elsewhere if she didn’t get it as she felt that she was ready for her next move.

Her bosses didn’t think that she was ready, she didn’t get it, and her game of brinkmanship meant that she felt she should leave.

She left and found a role that wasn’t so different from the one she left. Foolish. I'm sorry to say it, and she agrees.

It is so easy to picture yourself in the proverbial “corner office” in however many years’ time, but unless you are realistic about your abilities and the changing demands of the role in question, you should be very careful about showing an interest.

A far safer approach is to consider (as part of your overall development plan) what knowledge and skills might be required for the next step up and take the opportunity to develop them whenever possible, over and above current demands.

Then you know that you are ready rather than taking an ambitious stab in the dark.

My friend is starting to regret her ambition.

Put your hat in the ring to take a step up when you know you are ready for it.

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(If you post career-oriented content and would like to be included here, email: paul@outplacementwriter.com)