It’s Not Fair!

Dear Dr. Jim,
Why did my colleague, who has similar background and experience as I do, get promoted instead of me?
– Richard*

Hi Richard,

This is a very complicated question.

But, there are a couple of things to think about:

1. Some people seem to have a knack of connecting with the right people, of doing the right things within the organization so they get noticed, or creating a perception that they have leadership capabilities or need to be promoted to the next level.

People perceive you in a certain way, and some people will perceive you as having leadership capabilities and others as not.

2. One of the important things here is to be willing and able to present yourself in a way that you are seen (as much as possible), understood (as much as possible), and recognized (as much as possible and appropriate).

3. If you really are interested in getting promoted, then the thing to do is to present yourself in a way that you are heard. One of the best ways of doing this is to regularly connect with your Next-Level Manager (NLM). Your NLM is probably the most important person in your career because they see things going on with you. Ensure you are well connected with them; don’t wait for your NLM to make the move.

It’s kind of a “just enough” thing. We want to put ourselves out there so that we’re seen, but not seen as pushy. So be wise, be strategic about how you’re presenting yourself, and ask others for feedback about your blind spots and how you come across.

Hopefully that’s helpful!

– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed