Here’s Why You’re Not Getting Promoted (Even though you Rock!)


If you are a top performer at your job but have yet to receive a promotion, you are not alone. Top performers at various companies are in the same situation. Lack of career growth is one of the reasons why good employees leave their companies. This does not mean that you need to leave your current company, though. There are things you can do to help your situation. In another post, I share four steps you can take to get you a promotion.

But before you take those steps, you need to understand the reason why you are not getting promoted.

Here are four likely reasons why you are not getting promoted, even though you rock.

I’m writing specifically for those in individual contributor roles who are looking to move up to managerial positions.

A quote- Lack of career growth is one of the reasons why good employees leave their companies. This does not mean that you need to leave your current company though. There are things you can do to help your situation.

1. You have not asked for a promotion

This is one of the main reasons why top performers don’t received promotions. They don’t ask for, nor do they look for growth opportunities. They simply wait for opportunities to come to them. This strategy does not always work. Sometimes you need to show initiative and express your interest in growth opportunities within your organization.

As a former people manager, I often had openings available, but had no idea someone in my department wanted the job. It was not until I hired someone for the role that an employee would approach me to express interest in the role.

This happens often.

What you should do: 

So, let your boss and others in the organization know that you are looking for growth opportunities. Raise your hand for projects and special assignments. Show initiative and be helpful.

2. You have been in your current role for too long

The longer you stay in an individual contributor role, the harder it can be  to get promoted to management.

Typically, someone who stays in the same role for more than 10 years (depending on the role) can come across as not having the transferable skills to take on a higher position.

What you should do:

Again, if you are in this position: don’t despair. Here’s what you need to do.

Learn to think as a manager even in your current role. Don’t just look at what you do day-to-day, but think about how your job impacts the overall organization. Learn as much as you can from other managers and seek to model best practices from good leadership books

Lastly, don’t be afraid to throw you name in the hat for manager roles if you feel you’re ready. If your organization does not have anything available, look externally.

Keep in mind that some who make the switch from individual contributor to management often find it difficult to delegate tasks, because they always did everything themselves. This inability to delegate leads to micromanagement, which is the Achilles Heel of leadership. Do all that you can to avoid it.

3. You previously turned down a promotional opportunity

When you say no to a promotional opportunity, this might come back to haunt you later on. It’s not because you did anything wrong. You just can’t always avoid office politics. And yes, I saw this happen before.

What you should do:

If you are in this situation, don’t take it personal. Without proper context, those in hiring positions make assumptions. Maybe they made the wrong assumption about why you turned out the previous opportunity.

Either way, be professional. Continue to add value to your team by performing to the best of your ability. Remain proactive and joyful in assisting others, and don’t grow bitter!

These character traits are what great managers look for, and in time your opportunity will come again.

 4. There are no growth opportunities available at your company

Not every company has growth potential. And if they did, there are often too many talented people and not enough promotional opportunities to go around. We all know of companies where people seem to stay in the same role for ever. You might need to wait another 15 years for Sally to retire so that you can get a shot at a promotion.

Although it can be frustrating when there’s nothing available, those are usually the best opportunities to launch into an exciting new adventure.

What you should do:

If you are in this situation, now might be a good time to start looking for opportunities outside your organization. Job hunting when you are already employed is usually exciting, because it takes the pressure off of you. You are not desperate. You can take your time to look for the right opportunity.

With the unemployment rate being the lowest it has been in 50 years, there is no time like the present to make a move.

Final Words

As you ponder these ideas and weigh your options, keep in mind that a good character is by far the best guarantee of opportunity .

As the Bible says, “A good name [or character] is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1

Many people fall over themselves to please others with their strong performance, but their character is so reprehensible that they never get the light of day. If you work well and maintain a godly character in all that you do, opportunities will come to you much faster than you think.

Learn more about character by reading posts in the led life section of my blog.

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

– Led by the Book


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