The Best Way to Ask Your Boss for a Promotion

August 24, 2017

The best way to ask your boss for a promotion is to ask what it'll take to get a promotion, as opposed to demanding one that second.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to ask your boss for a promotion.

The wrong way is to go up to your boss and demand a promotion, according to LinkedIn Learning Instructor Todd Dewett’s course, Getting Promoted. This technique often doesn’t work and makes for awkward situations, Dewett said.

Demanding a promotion is particularly dangerous if you give your boss an ultimatum – like, give me this promotion or I’m quitting. You should only do that if you are truly willing to quit, Dewett said. Otherwise, if you issue that ultimatum and don’t follow through, you lose all credibility.

But even if you do get the promotion via ultimatum, you’ve essentially gotten it through coercion. That's not exactly a recipe for a great working environment.

The right way to ask your boss for a promotion

So, what’s the right way to ask for a promotion?

“Instead of asking for the promotion now, ask for a promotion at a defined point in the future,” Dewett said.

For example, tell your boss you’d like to get promoted within a year. And then ask them what specific skills and accomplishments you need to acquire to get that promotion, Dewett said.

Why is this better? Two reasons, straight from Dewett:

  • “First, you will have signaled to your boss and others that you're a hard worker, goal-oriented and that you want to honestly earn your promotion.”
  • “Second, the work you will have done in the interim will have built up your resume such that you're well positioned to consider other opportunities internally, or possibly externally.”

It also makes for a better relationship with your manager, as it “makes you a partner with your boss, not an adversary,” Dewett said.

What if your boss doesn't agree with your timeline? At least you have realistic expectations set at that point, Dewett said. And, your boss is likely to appreciate your ambition and willingness to put in the work, he added.

The bigger point? Asking for a promotion doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. By asking what’s needed to get promoted, you and your boss are on the same side, pushing for the same goal.

*Image from Matt Pek, Wikipedia Commons

There’s a lot more to getting promoted than asking for it. To learn how to advance within your organization, watch Dewett’s course, Getting Promoted.