Are You On Track For Your Next Promotion? Four Key Areas To Evaluate

View this article online at and visit to sign up for free news updates
By on April 8, 2015 in Current Events, Leadership with 10 Comments

Have you ever noticed that when it comes to promotions there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the process? Your organization has promotion criteria, and yet for every set of criteria you look around and see someone getting promoted who didn’t meet them.

It can be frustrating. And yet, there is hope. There are some things you can do.

If you feel like you’re working hard but you still aren’t seeing the recognition that you expected, it’s time to take a closer look at your particular situation.

Are you really set up for success in the area of career progression? Here are four key areas to take a look at:

These first two areas are fairly straightforward…

  1. Check Your Landscape

The first is a simple landscape question: in your current position, is there a next step up?

In today’s budget environment some positions just don’t have an option for promotion. There is nowhere to move up to. If you are in one of those positions and have already “maxed out” but you want to be promoted, it’s time to think about doing something else. That something else can be either a different career track in the same organization, or a similar career track in a different organization with more “head room.”

  1. Check Your Toolbox

Since we’re talking nuts and bolts, look at your skill set. Is there a required training program or experience ticket you haven’t punched yet? Most organizations have specific criteria (written or otherwise) in order to get promoted to the next level.

For example, you have to have had a job that involves significant experience in, say, resource management (or whatever is the specific ticket in your office). If you haven’t had that experience in resource management, it can make getting the promotion tough regardless of how good your other assets are.

So much for the easy stuff, here’s where it gets tricky.

These next two areas are harder to spot and, yet, have an even bigger impact on your promotion chances.

  1. Check Your Mindset

There’s another piece to the puzzle that is not so obvious: your subconscious mindset. A mindset mistake can show up in a number of different ways. For example, if there is a subconscious belief that says, “When other people think I’m ready, I’ll get promoted, and if I’m not promoted, that must mean that I’m not ready,” guess what? You’re unlikely to get promoted.

This subconscious mindset leads to actions such as not inquiring about or applying for stretch assignments, failing to acknowledge your own achievements, or downplaying the value of your unique contribution.

  1. Check Your Assumptions

The ugly sister to mindset mistakes is unconscious assumptions like, “In order for me to get promoted I’ll have to do something I REALLY don’t like” or “I’ll have to give up something that is REALLY important to me.”

The underlying belief that earning a promotion would require “throwing yourself on a land mine” leads you to overlook unexpected opportunities and present yourself as someone who isn’t interested in progress – even though you know that getting promoted would allow you to be of even greater service.

The thing that makes these last two so tricky is that they are, by definition, subconscious. If you were aware that you were doing it, you might choose to do something different.

If you aren’t sure if you’re on track for your next promotion, check out where you can take the Greatness Quiz. The Greatness Quiz will show you where you’re on track and where you might want to focus your attention.

© 2017 Martha Austin. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Martha Austin.

About the Author

With more than 24 years as a federal employee, first as an active duty Army officer and later a Foreign Service officer, staff leadership instructor and professional coach, Martha understands what it means to simultaneously feel inspired by the desire to serve and stifled by the “needs of the service.” Martha is on a mission to create public institutions that ignite success, prosperity and joy for EVERYONE they touch – especially those in them.