Promotions are a desired and expected result of workplace effort. You put in the hours, produce high-quality work, and make every effort to meet expectations, and a promotion is supposed to validate that effort.

And you’re not getting one, in spite of all you’ve done to make it happen. It can breed feelings of resentment and getting left behind, causing you to work less efficiently and enthusiastically.

You might blame your manager for not paying attention or the company for not rewarding good work. Sometimes, you’re right -- others are failing at moving you up the ladder. Sometimes, however, the answer is less obvious.

Here are the three major reasons you might not be getting a promotion.

You’re not doing the specific things necessary

Before you go down the blame game rabbit hole, take a look at your own work. If you’re truly doing quality, high-effort work, it might be that you’re just not doing what you need to do for that next role up the ladder. If you have an idea as to what a better, higher-paying role looks like, try to match up your work with those eventual responsibilities.

People get promoted not just for beating expectations, but for recognition that their abilities will allow them to do so in the road ahead. Try to show off in ways that make it obvious you’re ready for that next step. For example, if the next step up is a role in management, you’ll want to take the lead on more projects and demonstrate that you work well motivating others.

Of course, make sure you’re still handling your core responsibilities. It’s all about stretching in ways that show you fit the mold for the promotion.


It’s not you, it’s them

If you are working above and beyond your capacity, and you are performing above what is asked of you, then the problem might be with the company.

It may be obvious to you and those around you that you’re a high performer deserving of the benefits and accolades that come with that level of effort. Look for signs sign that something else is going wrong, either in your team or in your organization.

It could be... financial difficulty:

To start with, your company simply might not have the money to invest in promoting you. Promotions aren’t simple or cheap. They often require a pay raise, a promotion for the person whose role you’ll be filling, and investment in hiring a replacement for your role. And if your company is in financial dire straits, you might be getting passed up for a promotion out of a pure lack of resources.

An easy way to figure this out is to gauge the mood of the office. Does everyone look like they’d rather be elsewhere? Is management working overtime hours and losing sleep?

And if you find that money is tight, figure out if there is a positive outlook in the future. Because sticking around on a sinking ship can only damage your career and delay your professional growth.

It might be... bad leadership:

If money isn’t an issue, then you just might be faced with the problem of ineffective leadership. And that doesn’t just come from your own manager, but from the entire executive suite. Your company just might not properly invest in their top performers. Your team might be getting overshadowed by another.

A good sign of a company that doesn’t invest retaining its star employees is turnover. Are you noticing that more and more of your colleagues are leaving to join other companies? Do new faces constantly show up while the old crowd keeps thinning? Are you hearing murmurs of unhappy employees looking for new jobs? It might be time for you to join the crowd.

You’re in someone else’s path

An unfortunate side effect of an unclear, directionless hiring strategy is that companies often hire without considering future paths of promotion. In that case, an organization makes two similar hires, one of the two gets to move ahead, and the other gets left behind.

And if you’re stuck in that situation, it can severely stunt your professional growth.

It’s important to understand whether you’re caught up in a double-hire situation. Figure out if you are working alongside another person at your level who has a similar skillset as you. If you are, does it look like they’re getting all the “good” projects? Are they working on the things you expected to work on? Are they getting the opportunities that you were promised?

If that is the case, it’s important that you start evaluating your options immediately. Because you are stuck in the shadow of another professional who will get the work and accolades that would have propelled your career forward. You might not have to leave the company. You can look for interesting teams and projects to join at your current employer. But you do need to get out of that person’s shadow immediately.

Getting a promotion is a lot more complicated than simply doing the work and getting the reward. It takes extra effort and the right conditions to make sure it happens. Do your part by staying vigilant about the health of your company, the culture of its executives, and the people around you.

And remember that a promotion isn’t the only option for career progress. Sometimes, it’s better to look for greener pastures than to stick around where you’re not rewarded.

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