Career Advice

Boss Keeps Delaying Promotion: How To Professionally Handle This?

You’ve been a top specialist at your firm for a few years, and you’ve been gathering quite an assortment of accolades for your performance. According to your superiors, your work ethic is outstanding, and the business’s clients adore you.

You’ve let the leadership know your desire to take your career to the next level, but your boss keeps delaying promotion. You keep hearing that it’s “not your time yet” as well. That catch phrase sounds like a verbal promise, but your faith dwindles after being passed over more than twice.

Now you’re skeptical about getting a promotion, and you’re almost ready to leave. However, you want to handle the situation professionally. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do about a delayed promotion:

Do Not React With Your Emotions

Losing a promotion is a valid reason to get upset. After all, it’s a form of rejection that can cut deeply when you’re dedicated and committed to your role. However, letting your emotions take hold of you isn’t wise if you seek a promotion.

Your superiors will see your reaction as a preview of what you might be like as a leader. Once they paint you in that light, it’s almost impossible for you to convince them otherwise.

For the record, you’re not the first person to get upset or consider leaving because of being overlooked or lied to. In a study conducted by Career Addict, about 824 out of 1,000 workers said they’d quit over a lack of progression in their jobs. Thus, you’d be justified in quitting, but you don’t have to leave on a sour note. You may be able to turn things around and become a better employee in the process.

Read More: When Slackers Get Promoted Over You: Here’s How To Win The Game

Do Not Gossip and Complain

Many workplaces are already saturated with gossip and backbiting. Don’t contribute to it by complaining to your peers that your boss keeps delaying promotion. Your complaints will likely make their way to your superiors, and they may label you as a troublesome person. The problematic status can make it difficult for you to get a promotion during future bids.

Try Not To Be Passive-Aggressive

It’s easy to react passive-aggressively when you feel like someone has taken advantage of you or ignored your efforts and talents. Thus, you may want to respond by delivering less-than-stellar performances or shutting down some of the extras you used to do to help your employer. Alternatively, you may feel like leaving immediately, since giving your best doesn’t seem to matter.

Avoid reacting to the rejection in those ways. There are many reasons people get passed over for promotions, and some of them are unfair and hurtful. However, a second wrong will never make a right in any aspect of life.

Read More: 10 Signs Your Boss Wants to Promote You + What You Should Do

Rethink the Promise

What did your boss say about the promotion, and how did he say it? Nothing is as iron-clad as a signed written statement with an effective promotion date. Your chances of legally forcing the employer to comply without that are minimal at best.

Thus, you must rethink whether you received a bona fide promise of a promotion and can prove it with witnesses or their statements. You might have a chance of seeing results if your boss’s verbal agreement wasn’t too vague.

Ask Why Your Higher-Ups Passed You Over

You need to understand why your boss keeps delaying promotion, and going to the source is the best way to obtain that information. The hiring managers can give you insight if they are forthcoming and want you to succeed. You can then do what’s necessary to improve your performance.

For example, one of the managers may tell you to improve your customer service efforts. Another one may say that you need additional leadership training. This information could be helpful to increase your chances next time.

Alternatively, your superiors may refuse to give you “tangible” reasons for not promoting you. Those situations are more difficult to overcome because you’ll be unclear about how to proceed.

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Ensure That You Understand the Company’s Culture

The promotional system is a considerable part of each company’s culture. Likewise, each business has a right to conduct its advancements uniquely. Thus, you must understand how it works inside your facility. Your company may have a special way it promotes its workers, and the system may not be based on the same values and standards you’re accustomed to.

Furthermore, the company may have already established a pecking order and doesn’t usually deviate from the system. Getting promoted to the next level may involve numerous intangible elements that don’t match the traditional merit system you cherish. Therefore, you’ll have difficulty getting a promotion if your values or beliefs don’t match the company’s unwritten system.

You can talk to one of the senior staff members to gain more insight into the company’s culture. You can even ask them about the advancement system specifically. Senior members will likely know “how things work” in the company.

Alternatively, you can request meetings with your superiors to see if they will explain the process to you. They’ll be forthcoming if they want you to succeed. Otherwise, you may have to re-evaluate your career goals. Your superiors may have already decided about your placement and how far they want you to advance.

Consider How Your Placement Affects the Business

The reason that you haven’t yet been promoted may be a positive element that works like a double-edged sword. You may be so talented or skilled in your position that your boss doesn’t want to lose you to a supervisory role.

For example, you may be the strongest sales executive in your firm. Putting you into a supervisory role could lessen the time you work on the sales floor or eliminate it altogether. In that case, your boss’s failure to promote you may be an effective business strategy.

Assess Your Feelings and Desires

All workers have an idea of where they want to be and how they want to grow with the company for which they work. Your idea of growth might be to move up and assume more responsibility within two years.

It may be time to step back and re-evaluate your career if you haven’t advanced within your desired timeframe. You will be less likely to receive a promotion each year that passes. Thus, you may want to go in another direction if stagnancy prevails.

Express Your Concerns

Your employers can’t read your mind or tell you how you feel unless you talk to them. Thus, it will be advantageous to schedule a meeting with at least two of your higher-ups to discuss your wishes and concerns.

You can even involve the human resources department so that they can better understand your points of offense. There may be something they can do to help you navigate your career more effectively if your boss keeps delaying promotion.

Put Your Resume Out There

It may be time to review alternative work options if you’ve tried everything mentioned above and your boss keeps delaying promotion. A professional resume reboot can be your first step toward career advancement.

Sometimes, a journey with an employer is only meant to go so far. At that point, you can take the skills and lessons you’ve gathered at that workplace and put them on the table elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to offer your services to other establishments, as they may find a higher value in them than your current company does.

You may be surprised when other employers contact you to schedule interviews. You may even come across an offer you can’t refuse. That offer can be valuable for negotiations if you intend to stay with your current employer.

Try to Negotiate

You’ll find out your current employer’s true intentions once you write and submit your resignation letter. For example, an employer who values your work and service might request additional information after you put in your two weeks’ notice. They may ask you if you have another offer and then try to match it to keep you on board. You can then use that opportunity to negotiate a promotion, pay raise, or another benefit that aligns with your career goals more effectively.

On the other hand, an employer who does not know you or your skills will accept your resignation quietly. No one will ask you why you’re leaving, and you won’t get an opportunity to negotiate. Instead, the employer will reveal its true attitude toward you. At first, that may be a blow to your ego, but you’ll see it as a blessing after the sting dissipates. You can move on to more profitable opportunities once you know that your workplace does not value you.

If you decide to resign, check out these do’s and don’ts when putting in resignation.

Develop an Exit Strategy

An exit strategy is a well-constructed plan to place yourself in more favorable employment conditions while respecting your current employer and its needs. As mentioned above, you don’t have to leave on a negative note. You can go in a way that puts you and your ethics in a favorable light.

Your exit strategy should include being the best version of yourself possible. Now is the time to make your employer think twice and reassess your value. Offering to assist in training new employees is a great way to remind your employer how dedicated and hardworking you are. You’re not required to do it, but it may help you get positive reviews and recommendations.

You now have the tools to handle your delayed promotion effectively. Don’t take it too hard if you don’t get the advancement opportunity you wanted. It may signify that something much more fruitful is available for you.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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