The previous organisation I worked for had an extremely effective and tough promotion process with independent employee evaluators and senior promotion boards. The candidates that I and my management team put forward in the last three years were all promoted apart from one.

The reason for the high success rate was due to our evaluation of whether the potential candidate was ready to be promoted. Today, I am going to share this evaluation criteria with you, so that when you ask for a promotion you have all the evidence you need to present a strong case to your manager.

Please ensure however that you are truthful with yourself on this evaluation as it will be important if you want to achieve success.

Step 1 – Are you sure you are ready?

Do you have a 2 – 3 track year record of high performance in your current role? It is important to show that you have consistently outperformed at your current level and are ready for the next.

If not, then please check out my post on want to improve your performance rating or work with your manager or mentor on ways to increase your performance.

Evaluate your competencies

Take a really hard look at the leaders in your organisation at the level you want to be promoted to and ask yourself whether your competencies are at that same level.

As you evaluate yourself, make sure you document examples as you will need these when you ask.

  • Can you effectively manage change at the level of complexity that they do?
  • Would you be able to deal with the level of accountability and workload that they have?
  • Have you the skills required to mentor and lead a team of that size?
  • Do you have the skills to influence decision makers at that level i.e stakeholders, peers and managers?
  • Can you manage the new politics that will be presented to you?
  • Are you able to set a strategy and vision and influence buy in for this?
  • Do you have an effective enough network in the organisation to get things done at that level?

Dangers of being promoted too soon

The downside of achieving a promotion before you are ready is that you will be evaluated against the people currently at that level which could severely affect you performance evaluation and in some cases the success of your future career.

I have seen this so many times when managers have promoted people before they are ready and they have struggled in their new role and in some cases have been so stressed and disheartened that they have moved to other positions in or outside of the firm. A downside for both the individual and the firm.

If you feel you are not yet ready, work with your manager or mentor to identify areas of growth and work out a plan of training, mentorship or delegated tasks to achieve that growth.

If you are not sure then work with a trusted colleague or mentor to help you with the evaluation.

Step 2 – Is the organisation ready?

Ok, you have analysed yourself and determined you are ready for the next level, but is the organisation ready for you to move yet?

Is there space?

Is there space in your area for another person at the level you want to be promoted to? If not then you need to discuss this with your manager when you ask for the promotion. A good manager will want a talented employee to grow and will work with you to find a suitable bigger role in other parts of the organisation.

Is there a successor?

Is there someone who can take over your role (a successor)? If not then it may be difficult for you to move. Discuss this with your manager and ask him to help you with a succession plan.

Step 3 – Time to ask

Now you have all the information available to ask for that promotion, you need to build a formal case.

  • Outline your performance over the last 2 – 3 years from your reviews.
  • Outline how your competencies are at the level required using the examples you documented in step 1.
  • Outline who your successors are and why you feel they are ready
  • Outline how you feel you can make the role a success

Practice your case with a mentor or colleague and identify any areas of improvement. When you feel you are ready then book a meeting with your manager at a time your feel your manager will be more approachable.

Handling rejection

This is really hard to do and I have been there, but the best thing you can do at this point is understand the reasons why and work with your manager on addressing these areas so you are successful at the next round.

When I failed to get promoted one year, I was given good advice by a colleague who stated, you can be mature, suck it up and try again next year, you can go elsewhere or you can just bitch and moan about it.

Do you know what, I sucked it up, continued to perform and grow and was promoted the year after.

Handling success

Congratulations on your promotion, it is well deserved.
Your areas of focus will now change and you should work with your manager and mentor on where you should focus your effort as well as identifying some internal, external or online learning to guide you for future success.

Wrap up

I hope you are successful in your promotion goals. Please leave me a comment or email me at to let me know how you get on.

Categories: Influence