Why won't the boss promote you?

Why Your Manager is Afraid to Promote You

You have been with your company quite some time, and have continuously been passed over for promotion. Your performance is exemplary—and you have the reviews to prove it. You improve where needed, exceed various goals and objectives, and have positive work relationships. 

What is going on?

After much deliberation, trusted counsel, and unbiased reflection, you have come to a simple conclusion: Your manager is afraid to promote you.

Truth be told – you may be right. Here’s how you can tell:

You used to collaborate on projects with your boss, but now it is nearly impossible to gain access to your direct manager. The only feedback you receive is negative, and compliments are less personalized and more general. You seem to be assigned the “hand-me-downs” – which is fine, but none of them align with your strengths. There is no longer talk about your future, and quite frankly, you feel as if you are being pushed out. Why is this happening?

Your manager may be concerned about his / her job security.

True leaders recognize leadership qualities in others and work to help cultivate those attributes. They do not try to stifle or snuff out their employees so that they can remain the “shining star”. Your boss may be incredibly insecure and seeking to ensure that he/she does not lose a place at the table (rather than just bringing up a chair).

There may be a need for control, and quite frankly – your boss may not be that great at his or her job.

Micromanaging is sometimes done to control the work environment and those within it. This helps a manager develop a specific, self-serving narrative. If a manager feels inadequate within his / her role, they may target or bring down an excellent employee so that the focus is off their own performance.

It may not be all sunshine and rainbows… In other words: They may be trying to protect you.

While this scenario is less common, a manager may be “afraid” to promote you, because they know change is coming, and they want to make sure you are positioned to ride it out. Though this does happen, a good manager should be communicating their intentions to you, rather than keeping you in the dark.

If you do feel your manager is afraid to promote you, there is some action you can take:

1.) Be Direct.

If you feel comfortable, schedule a meeting with your manager and ask if there is anything you need to improve upon, or if something has happened. Explain how you are feeling a bit stagnant within your role, and as if you are not being given the opportunity to challenge yourself and grow.

2.) Speak with another supervisor or HR.

If you do not feel comfortable (and if some questionable comments or actions have occurred), it is important to bring the matter to another manager and/or human resources attention. Putting this on your company’s radar may be beneficial, especially if other infractions you are not aware of have occurred.

3.) Find a new company.

Consider looking for employment elsewhere. Optimize your LinkedIn profile and update your resume. Begin networking (online and in-person) and applying for various positions of interest. If you are unsure where to start or how to begin, consider reaching out to a Career Strategist (like myself) to help walk you through the process. As the saying goes, there are other fish in the sea – don’t settle for less than you are worth.

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached,
don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

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