Getting a promotion is wonderful recognition for the hard work that we put into our careers.
It’s a bump in salary and responsibility that acknowledges that we have done great work in our current role and are ready for the next challenge.
If you’re working to achieve a promotion, and are working towards your next steps, this article review some of the most common signs your boss wants to promote you. It also offers recommendations for how to get the promotion that you’re working towards.
- 1 Signs Your Boss Wants to Promote You
- 1.1 1. They Ask You About Your Career Goals
- 1.2 2. They Put Together a Career Growth Plan For You
- 1.3 3. You Receive Strong Performance Reviews
- 1.4 4. You’re Given Important Projects
- 1.5 5. You’re Brought Into Important Meetings
- 1.6 6. You’re Given Mentorship Roles
- 1.7 7. You’re Hitting or Exceeding Your Metrics
- 2 How To Get a Promotion
- 3 Conclusion
Signs Your Boss Wants to Promote You
1. They Ask You About Your Career Goals
If you’re doing well in your current role, and the company wants to retain you, a good manager will at some point ask you about your career goals.
In general, they do that because they want to understand where you want to go and how they can keep you happy and engaged at the company.
If a manager asks you about your career goals, and then pairs with a comment like “I want to help you get there,” that’s a sign that they may want to help you get promoted.
2. They Put Together a Career Growth Plan For You
Building on point number one about asking where you want to go in your career, a sign that makes it very tangible that your boss wants to promote you is when they put together a documented career growth plan for you.
In the corporate world, documentation is what really makes things official and concrete.
For example, when a manager documents a need for your to improve your performance, that’s one of the most common signs that a manager may want you to leave.
However, when a manager documents a path towards a promotion for you, that’s a compelling sign that they are serious about helping you to get to that next step in your career.
3. You Receive Strong Performance Reviews
A prerequisite to being promoted is that you receive strong performance reviews.
Ultimately, you’re not going to be promoted if you’re not performing well in your current job.
So, at the very least, strong performance reviews are a sign that your boss wants you to stay.
And strong performance reviews provide the foundation for you to get promoted.
4. You’re Given Important Projects
Managers often use important projects as opportunities to a) test your abilities and b) expand your skills. Also, you wouldn’t be given an important project if your manager didn’t trust your abilities.
So if you’re given an important project, particularly one that is high visibility and may be a bit of a stretch for you, that could be a sign that your boss may be grooming you for a promotion.
5. You’re Brought Into Important Meetings
In order to get a promotion, it helps to have broader visibility beyond just your direct team. And it’s important to be respected throughout the organization.
So if a manager starts bringing you into important meetings, that’s a chance for you to get visibility with important people that can help to influence your career. It could also be a sign that they’re helping to give you the visibility that you need for a promotion.
6. You’re Given Mentorship Roles
If your boss start building a team underneath you, or giving you folks on the team that you can mentor more informally, that can be a sign that could want to be promoted.
It means that your boss trusts you enough to enable you to teach other people and to develop them, which is a strong sign that your role at the company is growing.
7. You’re Hitting or Exceeding Your Metrics
Similar to the strong performance reviews point, hitting or exceeding your metrics is a prerequisite to getting a promotion.
You can’t get a promotion without performing well in your current role.
So, if you’re hitting or exceeding your metrics, that would give you the opportunity to be promoted into a higher level role.
How To Get a Promotion
Now, I’d like to transition from discussing the signs that your boss wants to promote you to actually getting that promotion.
I’ve been promoted multiple times throughout my career. However, I honestly think I could gotten promoted more times and faster if I had managed the process better.
To that end, I’d like to share some recommendations on what I learned.
Note that these recommendations are focused on how to work with your manager to get yourself a promotion. In order to get promoted, you need to be hitting your goals, doing great work, and be well liked at the company. The below recommendations won’t get you anywhere without that foundation.
Step #1: Know What You Want
The first step to getting to promoted is to know what you want. You need to know your destination in order to get there.
Now, over the course of my life I’ve found that what you want over the really long term may change over time. You may think that you want to be an executive, but then you have kids and find that you don’t want all of that stress, time, and travel.
So what I find helps is to have a general long term sense of where you’d like to get (i.e., I would like to have a senior level position and lead a team) and know the next step that you need to take in the next 2 – 3 years to get there.
So, if you’re currently a manager, and you know that you’d like to eventually be a team leader in a senior level role, then you should be working towards becoming a senior manager in the next 2 – 3 years.
Step #2: Communicate That To Your Boss
If your boss doesn’t know what you want, it’s difficult for them to help you get there.
Now, really good bosses that want to retain you should be asking you proactively what you want and helping you to get there.
However, over the years, I’ve found that not all of them do and it’s on you to manage your career growth.
So, know what you want, and communicate that to your boss. I find that annual performance reviews are good opportunities to communicate about your growth desires and where you’d like to get.
A quick story to wrap up this section. I made the mistake of not proactively communicating to my boss what I wanted. I had been at a company about two years and was doing well but hadn’t grown my role. In a performance review, I asked my manager how to grow my role and said that I would like to do that. He immediately said “oh, yeah, you’ve earned that, let me see what I can do.” Two weeks later, I had a promotion.
The point of that story is that if I had never communicated what I wanted, I’m not sure if/when I would have gotten that promotion. So be sure to advocate for yourself.
Step #3: Ask What You Need to Do To Get There
When you communicate to your boss what you want, make sure that you ask what you need to do to get there.
If your boss cares about you and wants to retain you, they’ll be happy to engage in that conversation. If they shut you down and dodge the question, that could be a sign that they want you to leave.
Your ultimate goal here is to get a documented list of projects that you need to complete or skills that you need to develop to take the step that you would like to take.
Step #4: Check In On Your Progress
Once you have that list of things that you need to complete, you need to work through those items and then regularly review your progress with your manager.
I would recommend doing so on a roughly quarterly basis to continue to get feedback and coaching and to make sure you’re on the right track.
Note that if you’re not hitting the baseline goals for your role, you may want to pause on checking in on your progress relative to a promotion.
Getting a promotion is a great accomplishment. And it’s exciting if you’re seeing the signs that your boss is grooming you for a promotion.
However, ultimately, your career growth falls on your shoulders. And you need to proactively manager your career growth in order to get what you want.