Ask for a Promotion?

I’ve been at my job for a year now and I want to ask my boss for a promotion but I’m not sure how. Because it’s a fairly new and small company, there have not been any previous employees of my same title to look to for examples of how it’s done (i.e., moving up the ranks). There is one person who has moved up the ranks, but she’s made it clear to other people that she’s not going to give away the secrets to her success.. All she says when they ask for suggestions about changing their title is “Talk to the boss”. My work is solid and I’ve achieved a lot of results and accomplishments on the job over the last year. There are no formal evaluations. There have been a FEW low lights (personality related), but overall I get along with everyone on the job. Should I drop hints that I want a promotion or should I be direct and ask my boss about “opportunities for growth?” (He’s too busy to ask to go to coffee so any talk will be in his office).I have been quantifying my work so that I can show results of my work over the past year to my boss. I don’t want to appear too eager and ambitious, and I’m a bit wary of how the environment might be if I ask for a promotion and am told no and then have to continue to work there.. But I do want to try and want to make sure I do it in the right way.

Signed, Want to Try

Dear Want to Try for Promotion:

Don’t hint! Don’t gossip with coworkers about a raise or your status as apparently you or some coworkers have with the one who got promoted. Doing that conveys an impression of dissatisfaction and jealousy.

Rather, request an appointment and an evaluation. Since yours is a small company and there is no formal evaluation system, a boss should understand that you want to get a reading from him about how well you are meeting his expectations. Other than a brief cordial greeting once you enter his office, I think he will respect something like, “I’ve been here for about a year now and I would like to know how you see my work.” Or, “I think you would like to see what I’ve compiled on my assignments.” Bring in the numbers and any quality indicators of projects completed and suggestions of what you see ahead.

See your boss as a career adviser. Then if he says, “Not now”, you can get a idea of when and if. And if the “when and if” provides ample prospects for you in your small company, you need not feel uneasy about continuing to work there. Also follow up conversation should give you some sense about what to expect as to promotion. If he provides nothing tangible, you can decide if you want to pursue what’s next, possibly, by asking, “What do you see for me next? Or “To get promoted, do you want me to ask for one?” Or “Have I taken on the responsibilities and accomplishments that merit promotion?” Or “Have I earned a raise?”

Talking about what you see that might cut waste—wasted supplies, time, and money—and innovations are the kind of attitude and talk a boss likes to see in you. My signature sums that up: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Will you tell us if these thoughts make sense and/or spark other ways to answer your concern for promotion and then what you do? You don’t owe us for these thoughts, but they are intended to help you on your career path and we will appreciate an update.

William Gorden