1. Avoid pushing your manager too hard or too fast. If your manager feels rushed or pressured, it can break trust. One Starbucks manager and district trainer described the timing factor this way: "It's music to my ears when an employee wants to be promoted and says it in a manner that doesn't put pressure on the relationship. I had one employee tell me, 'If you want to promote me, I'm more than ready, willing, and available to grow with the company; I also know you need great people out front with customers, so, until that time, I'm here for you with a 110% effort.' I promoted this particular employee in less than two months!"
2. Over-using the terms "my career" or "promotion" in your discussions with your manager. Language such as "I'm committed to being a part of the company's continued growth and success" is often more palatable than "I'd like to get promoted."
3. Going for too big a jump in responsibilities too soon. For example, a junior programmer for a software development company learned that a senior engineer was leaving for a new opportunity. The junior programmer marched into the director's office with a bulleted list of why she should be promoted to the senior engineer's position, but her plan backfired. In the director's eyes, it was too far a stretch. The junior programmer ended up with no promotion, when she might have landed some additional responsibility with an engineering title had she used a strategy that allowed for smaller steps.
4. Bothering your manager with too-frequent reminders of wanting to be promoted. If, during your "career conversation" with your manager, you've been completely clear about your expectations and your manager has openly discussed what you need to do to move forward, reminders shouldn't be necessary. Just be sure you have calendared a time in the weeks or months to come to revisit the topic with your manager. In the meantime, work with excellence and optimism.
5. Begging for a promotion because of financial pressures. Managers and business owners tend to take the attitude that you knew what the job paid when you took it and it's up to you to live within your income.
6. Pouting or grousing because you haven't gotten promoted as quickly as you'd like.Act like an adult! Whining or demanding that you be promoted because you're envious or frustrated that someone else on your team got promoted won't score points. You may believe that the wrong person got a promotion, and you may even be right. If you are, the results of that decision will be revealed in due time. Keep your frustrations to yourself, and continue to do a great job. If the person who was promoted hangs himself through poor performance, you'll be looked to as the one who can save the day.
7. Being clueless about the big picture. If you are serious about wanting a promotion, do your homework. Understand how your current position and your targeted promotion fit in with the company's goals and profitability picture.
8. Being deceitful or double-minded by acting in a respectful manner around your manager and then undermining or criticizing your manager in his absence. This never pays off!
9. Asking to be promoted without having gone above and beyond in your current position (employers don't promote someone for simply doing what's expected of them). You will not score any points with your boss by simply showing up and doing your job. You must make an effort to go beyond the requirements of your job description.
10. Expecting a promotion without having made measurable progress in areas outlined for improvement on prior performance evaluations. If you haven't made any effort to improve on areas pointed out to you, why would your boss think you'd be a good study on a new job?
11. Being unprepared with talking points about the value or return-on-investment you'd bring in the new position. Be clear about what you bring to the table and the strengths that are of value to the company.
12. Not dressing, speaking, or acting the part. Don't stand out by being different. Stand out by being excellent. Dress in a manner similar to those two levels above you. If you wear something that causes your listener to pay more attention to it than your message, ditch it.
In general, to get promoted, you must memorize the mantra-"it's all about value." Link your promotion request to performance, never an inability to pay your bills! Ideally, value means going beyond what your job description calls for and contributing additional revenue or saving the company money.