How to set yourself up for success when asking for a promotion

I recently had the pleasure of coaching a number of people all of whom received a promotion and salary increases of an average of 20 percent with their current employer!

If you’d like to be promoted and worth more in the marketplace, then read on.

The common elements of each of these success stories follow below:

  1. Be prepared

    Whilst this might sound like the battle cry of Scar in Lion King (what a fantastic song) it’s also the motto for Scouts. I’d rather you think of being diligent about you career like a Scout, than devious, like Scar.

    Being prepared means you are sure of the following ahead of your review:

    1. What did you achieve since your last review?

      Think of the main things you achieved, what went well? What did not go well? What did you learn? What could you have done better?

      It’s helpful to review your job description, your employment contract or anything else you have that gives you a basis for review.

    2. What your manager expected you to deliver on?

      Think of the main things that they would be reviewed on by their manager:

      What was your role in their successful delivery?
      What was your role in the team, in the event things did not go according to plan?
      How could you counterbalance this with anything else you’ve done?
      How critical were the projects you successfully delivered on versus those that were not? (This is helpful to know in case a minor one is used to criticise you rather than all the other major ones that you delivered on)

    3. What salary expectations might you have
      (in case there are anomalies created by you being granted a raise).

  2. Go beyond what is expected of you

    Your manager formed expectations of you the moment you commenced your new job, or left their office, the last time you were reviewed.

    It’s critical that you really understand what those expectations are.

    Once you have an agreement, make sure they are documented, so that when there is any dispute about your priorities or when your next review comes around, there is a clear game plan.

    It’s one thing to deliver on what is expected of you. It’s another thing to exceed those expectations. A motto I often reinforce in my coaching clients is not to be 100 percent better in your job (daunting as that sounds), but to be 1 percent better in 100 little things. Please yourself, your team and most importantly your manager with so many things you could be seen to do just that little bit better than your colleagues.

  3. Demonstrate you fit in

    Fitting in is critical. I have advised companies to fire their top achievers who have put at risk the company’s principles, values and culture in the process of achieving superior results and to retain others who were not as high achieving but who nonetheless demonstrated how they fit.

    If there is one thing that all sustainable companies want, it is to have people who fit in. From being involved in social activities, to doing something you know was meant to be done by someone, but you did it.

    All in all, be humble but just a little obvious that you did what you did.

  4. Demonstrate a willingness to learn

    No-one is perfect. We all know people who think they are the smartest in the room. It’s never fun to be around people like this.

    No matter what level you are at, early graduate to CEO, it’s helpful to have a spirit of learning – from anyone. And hearing other’s viewpoints.

    Most importantly, what is it that you could learn in the upcoming year that creates more value to your employer?


These 4 tips are the essence of the key points that helped the clients I coached who all received a promotion and salary increases of 20 percent on average.

If you approach your job by applying all or some of these tips, you will be setting yourself up to be promoted beyond your wildest expectations.  Each of my clients experienced just that.


To find out how you, your colleagues, family or friends can do better in their careers, go to Career365 and check out our online programs or career based books in hard cover or in e-book format here.

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