Why do some people get promoted faster than other people? It’s not always because they are better, some times it’s because they understand what it takes to get a promotion. So the first thing you need to know is, how do leaders typically decide who gets promoted? And forget what you are told, the decision to promote someone may not always be as objective as you think. So here are the key things you need to know about how to position yourself to be promoted the next time an opportunity comes along!

1) Be good at your job (of course!), and be SEEN to be good at your job

Being good at what you do is essential, without question, but what most people fail to understand is that you also need other people to SEE you as someone who is good at your job. We do not advocate being seen as good, but actually being bad (we don’t like people like that, and they won’t last long anyway), but what we want is for all the hard working people out there to realise that the perception of being good at your job can some times be even more powerful than just working hard.

And what are the tricks to be seen as being good at your job? Your image, communication and upward management. Read up on how your should dress, speak and even walk around the office. Work on your communication skills. And learn to manage your bosses, which leads to our next point…

2) Your boss determines who gets promoted, not the appraisal form

As much as organisations try to be as objective as possible, if your boss doesn’t like working with you, the chances of your promotion are pretty slim unfortunately. After all, it’s them that typically decides (or has a significant say) in who gets promoted, not some HR system.

Have you ever seen someone, who is not the best performer, get promoted over someone else who performs better or works harder?

The key is to be able to build trust with your boss, that they trust you to have their interests at heart, and that they trust you to also help them succeed once you get promoted. Nobody wants to give someone more authority if they are going to cause them problems later.

3) Under promise, over deliver

Regardless of how much the management want to promote you, when you are not doing well in comparison with what you are supposed to achieve, that may prevent them from being able to propose a promotion for you. This does not suit every situation, but it might help you. Try managing down your official goals to levels that are very achievable, and make sure you go all out to over-deliver on those goals. A discussion about a promotion becomes so much easier when you are an over achiever.

4) Ask! Like this…

It’s so simple, yet many people shy away from asking for a promotion. The trick is to ask at the right time, i.e. when the organisation and you are doing well. When the mood is good. Or when you know you are a critical part of the team and they can’t lose you now. Whichever you feel is the right moment, the most important thing is to remember to ask nicely. Don’t demand for a promotion, just ask. Let them know you hope to get a promotion soon and see what they think. At the very least, even if they cannot promote you now, there will be a conversation about how you can get there, and you will be taken into serious consideration the next time a more senior position becomes available.



Posted by Derek Toh

Derek is the founder and CEO of WOBB.CO. He was part of the pioneer batch for the Stanford-MaGIC Entrepreneurship Program, and is also a mentor for McKinsey & Company's Youth Leadership Academy. Derek is on a mission to revolutionise work culture in Asia. He cares about initiatives that improve education and the talent market. Derek is also a big fan of superhero movies, and has been told that he drinks too much coffee during the day.