Prepare the ground
Asking for a promotion is not a one-off, yes-or-no event. Presenting your manager with a request and expecting them to accept or refuse is not an approach in tune with professionalism or human psychology. We are more likely to accede to requests if we are primed for them and they do not come out of the blue.
That means you need to plant a seed well in advance. Discuss your career goals in a casual conversation with your manager, perhaps if you have a time when you’re having lunch or are driving to a client meeting together. As well as letting your manager know about your ambitions, you’ll also get an idea of their thinking by measuring their response. You can then approach them with a more concrete request further down the track.
Get the timing right
When you do make a formal approach on the subject, pick a time when the business is performing well – perhaps after something positive has happened, like a major client renewing a contract. If you choose a time when staff have just been laid off and the company is struggling, it’ll be easy for your manager to tell you that now isn’t the time to consider promotions.
Support yourself with facts
It’s a good idea to keep track of your achievements at the firm. Know exactly where you are: how many chargeable hours are you achieving each month? How many new clients have you brought to the firm over the previous year? How much value are you creating for the business?
Armed with such concrete data, you’ll be much better able to support your request for a promotion. Remember, nobody else is going to present a list of your achievements for you – so you might as well ensure they’re being considered.
Think about what you’d do differently
Perhaps part of the reason you’d like to move up is that you have good ideas for how your department or firm could change its practices for the better. Are you frustrated with the missed opportunities and inefficient processes in place at the moment?
Either way, think about what you would do if you actually were promoted. What would you do in your first 30, 60, and 90 days in the job? If you’ve got a set of ideas and a drive to implement them, that gives whoever makes the decisions on promotions in your firm a good reason to give you a chance.
Many of us find asking for things, in general, to be difficult. But as the old saying goes, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’. If you want to move up in your career, then don’t be afraid to take the steps you need to get yourself where you want – and that includes making that plain old request.