7 Things That Will Prevent You From Getting Promoted

October 11, 2017

These seven things will prevent you from being promoted.

Not all employees want to be promoted.

That’s fine ­– if you are happy with the job you have, you shouldn’t feel obligated to advance up the career ladder. Granted, you’ll likely stay with a similar salary and similar responsibilities for the foreseeable future. But, if you are okay with that, that’s great.

And the tips listed in this article won’t really apply to you.

Instead, the seven tips in this article – which are all taken from Elizabeth and Lisa Earle McCleod’s LinkedIn Learning course, Learning to Be Promotable – are for people who want to be promoted. While doing any of these things probably won’t get you fired, they’ll also prevent you from advancing within your organization.

So, ask yourself – do you want to want to advance your career? If so, you should not do any of these seven things.

1. You do the same thing every day.

If you do the same thing every day, you’ll get the same results. And that means having the same job.

To be promoted, you need to take on projects that are outside your day-to-day scope, Elizabeth McCleod said. Or, at the very least you need to test new ways to accomplish your job, which might yield better results.

“If you want to be promoted, you need to be proactive, not reactive,” she said. “You need to connect the dots between your daily activity and how you further the organizational goals.”

Plus, this makes life a bit more interesting, too.

2. You don’t really understand your business.

You might work in accounting at your company and know everything about your company’s financials. But you might know almost nothing about your company's customers and main value proposition.

Or, you might work in sales and marketing and know your customers really well. But, you might know very little about your company’s financials.

To be promoted, you need to have a holistic view of the organization, Lisa Earle McCleod said. And that’ll make your actions inherently more strategic.

“I work with senior leaders on talent development and one of the biggest complaints that senior executives have about mid-level people is that they don't understand the business they're in,” she said.

3. You are consistently late.

It’s a little thing. But, constantly showing up a few minutes late to everything is annoying and it’ll prevent you from moving up, Lisa Earle McCleod said.

“Whether it's an employee, your boss, a customer or your peer you really want to be on time,” she said. “It might feel like being five minutes late to a WebEx is no big deal, but to the person who raced to their desk to be on time it feels like a lot longer.”

Don’t let a dumb thing like this hold you back. Just show up on time.

4. People often have to follow up with you on your emails.

This means that people don’t understand what you are trying to say, Elizabeth McCleod said. As you advance up within an organization, communication only because increasingly more important.

“Do you provide (people) with what they need in a timely and accurate way?” Elizabeth McCleod asked. “Do they leave your exchanges feeling satisfied?”

Work to be as clear as possible in your communication. The less clarifying emails you get, the better.

5. You never learn anything new.

Your company likely offers a whole host of training opportunities. Do you ever take advantage of them? Or, even if they don’t, have you spent any time learning on your own?

Well, if you want to get promoted, you should, Lisa Earle McCleod said. Because, to advance to a higher job, you’ll need to learn new skills. By learning them early, you’ll instantly become more promotable.

And while there are likely skills you should learn related to your job, it’s fine to learn things that aren’t related to your job, too. Learning in general makes you open for more learning, and changes your mindset from a fixed to a growth one.

“If you're after a promotion, don't make the mistake of thinking every minute you're not putting into work is a wasted minute,” Lisa Earle McCleod said. “That's not true. Hobbies outside of work help you become more creative and more strategic.”

6. You never ask for help.

This sounds counter-intuitive: you need to look strong to get promoted. Doesn’t asking for help send the signal of weakness?

Not really. If you are overwhelmed or legitimately need help, ask for it, Elizabeth McCleod said. That’s one of the best ways to build trust with leadership, as this shows they can trust you to raise concerns before they become real issues.

The absolute worst thing to do is to push ahead and guess at what you are trying to do. Many times, this leads to much bigger problems down the road and a decrease in trust from your boss.

“Asking for help when you've made a mistake can ease the isolation of failure and it helps you rebound faster,” Elizabeth McCleod said. “Leaders have much more respect for someone who can delegate and manage their time than they will for someone who barely completed something and completely exhausted themselves and everyone around them in the process.”

7. You are all-work, no-play.

Another one that sounds counter-intuitive. You would think that if you want to get promoted, you should dedicate yourself to work. And yes, obviously you need to work hard to get promoted, but it’s also important to take your vacations and not burn yourself out either.

“Burning the candle at both ends is a recipe for more than just burn out,” Lisa Earle McLeod said. “It's a recipe for dull, uninspiring work.”

There’s research that backs this up to. One study that looked at tens of thousands of employees found that people who took all their vacation time were actually more likely to get a raise than others who didn’t take all their vacation time.

“We like to think we have a personal life and a work life, but the reality is you have one life,” Lisa Earle McLeod said. “Your life. And if you want to be promotable, you need to develop yourself as a holistic person.”

*Image by Martin Strattner

Eager to be promoted? Watch Elizabeth and Lisa Earle McCleod’s LinkedIn Learning course, Learning to Be Promotable.