Five ways you're sabotaging your next promotion

Hoping to move up the ranks at your workplace? You might be ruining your chances at a promotion. 

Mary Knox Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Julie Reece (right) instructs Kim Regan (center) at her cubicle desk while at Z Corporation headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts, in 2010. Being able to learn from others and listen to instructions is essential to being considered for a promotion.

There's no way to know when or if you'll be promoted at work. And as promotions happen to others, you might wonder why your boss never offers you the job. Sure, some employees are more qualified and a better fit for a position, but there's also a chance that you're sabotaging your next promotion without realizing it. Give yourself a better shot at a cushier position by avoiding these five moves that sabotage your chances.

1. You're Constantly at War With Your Boss

Since you and your boss work closely together, it's safe to say that you won't see eye-to-eye on every single issue. Having a minor argument or disagreement with your employer doesn't necessarily signal the end of your career. Most employers are reasonable and forgiving, and able to look past small issues with no hard feelings. On the other hand, if you're always getting into battles with your boss, your attitude and behavior could hold you back.

If there's an employee with the same qualities and skills as you, who is also able to work well with others, your employer may feel that they're a better candidate for the promotion. You have to learn how to pick your battles and realize your employer is not your equal. In other words, slow your roll, feisty, and good things may come.

2. You Have a Negative, Toxic Attitude

Not only can arguing or fighting with your boss sabotage a promotion, but being a negative person can have similar consequences. You might not back talk to your employer, but if you're known as the "office complainer," or if you constantly voice how much you hate your assignments, don't expect any promotions to come your way. Even if you're only speaking out of frustration, too much negative talk can get back to your employer. He might conclude it's safer to promote someone who's happy on the job, since this person will likely stick around longer than you.

3. You're Too Emotional

Every job has good days and bad days, and sometimes you might have to hide in your office and have a good cry. Yeah, we've all been upset or overwhelmed by work at some point, but if you've had more bad days than good days, or if you have a reputation for being fragile or too sensitive, your boss might think you're unable to handle a promotion. This is especially true if the new job is demanding and stressful. He might feel the position is a better fit for someone with a thicker skin. Plus, if you're crying in your office, there's a high probability that you'll come off looking emotionally unstable. Grin and bear it as best you can, then eat your feelings when you get home (not really, but pizza and ice cream always make me feel better). If it's a chronic problem, it may be a new job that you need, not a promotion.

4. You Hide in the Background

When the time comes to promote within, employers look for employees with the best qualities, skills, and drive for the position. Unfortunately, if you're the type of person who likes to hide in the background, your boss might not recognize your desire to move up or see you as a go-getter. As a result, your name doesn't pop into mind when it's time to promote someone.

If your future plans involve moving up the career ladder, you have to go the extra mile and take the initiative. This is how you get noticed by employers, especially when working for a large company. You might not advance if you do just enough to get by.

Even if you're an introvert or a low-key person, you must be willing to step outside your comfort zone. For example, you can volunteer for projects, or accept assignments that give you the opportunity to use your leadership skills and show your boss what you're capable of. The rest of the office might think you're a suck-up, but will you care when you're getting paid the bigger bucks? One, there's nothing wrong with being dedicated and enthusiastic about your job, and two, I didn't think so.

5. You're Not Teachable

It doesn't matter how much you know or how well you do your job, there's always room for growth. Moving up in the company isn't just about having the necessary skills and experience — you also have to be teachable.

If you're a know-it-all who doesn't listen to instructions or suggestions, your employer might feel you're not the right person for a particular position. Additionally, you might miss out on new opportunities if you don't keep your skills up-to-date. Moving up within an organization might require taking a course or a workshop and gaining an understanding of new software and technology. If you're not willing to continue your education, your employer will promote someone who is.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to