Jordan (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabe (@GabeMizrahi) take a deep dive into their tried-and-true approach to asking for a promotion, maximizing your chances of landing it, and building on it to create a thriving career.
What We Discuss:
- The important questions to ask yourself before approaching your boss for a raise or a promotion.
- What you can start doing to ensure you get a raise or promotion next time around if you can’t quite justify one yet.
- How to build your case for a raise or promotion when you’re ready to take one on.
- The best practices for negotiation when the floor is yours.
- What to do if you don’t get the raise or promotion on the first try.
- And much more…
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Of all the questions we get for Feedback Friday, “How do I get promoted?” is probably the most common. Another common one is “How come I didn’t get promoted?” All around the world, people are looking to get ahead, to rise up, to grow. But they’re often finding a ton of resistance along the way.
On this episode, we’ll take a deep dive into our tried-and-true approach to asking for a promotion, maximizing your chances of landing it, and building on it to create a thriving career. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
To solidify your understanding of these game-changing principles and practicals, make sure to read this episode’s companion article here: The Best Way to Ask for a Promotion — And Make Sure You Land It.
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Did you miss our deep dive into what you should do if you’re looking for a new job or relationship and you want to know how to get your foot in the door — while avoiding the mistakes that are liable to get that door slammed in your face? Catch up with episode 629: Getting Your Foot in the Door | Deep Dive here!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- The Best Way to Ask for a Promotion — And Make Sure You Land It | Jordan Harbinger
- Feedback Friday Episodes | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Find a Mentor (And Make the Most of the Relationship) | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Be Generous When You’re Just Starting Out | Jordan Harbinger
- Six-Minute Networking
- How to Stop Feeling Like An Imposter | Jordan Harbinger
- Alex Kouts | The Secrets About Negotiation Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Alex Kouts | The Secrets About Negotiation Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- Alex Kouts | The Secrets About Negotiation Part Three | Jordan Harbinger
- Chris Voss | Negotiate as If Your Life Depended on It | Jordan Harbinger
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss | Amazon
- Jack Schafer | Getting People to Reveal the Truth Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Jack Schafer | Getting People to Reveal the Truth Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- The Truth Detector: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide for Getting People to Reveal the Truth by Jack Schafer and Marvin Karlins | Amazon
- Ramit Sethi | I Will Teach You to Find Your Dream Job | Jordan Harbinger
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi | Amazon
- Signs You’re Not Well-Liked at Work (And What to Do about It) | Jordan Harbinger
666: How to Ask for a Promotion | Deep Dive
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists, entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional national security adviser, legendary Hollywood director, or Russian spy. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:00:29] If you're new to the show and/or you want to tell your friends about it, the starter packs are how you do it. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show — topics like disinformation, cyber warfare, China, North Korea, technology and futurism, failure and resilience, investing in financial crimes, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:00:55] Today, I'm back with Gabriel Mizrahi. We're doing a deep dive on how to ask for a promotion. I would say, Gabe, this has to be one of the most common questions that we get on Feedback Friday in some form or another, "How do I get promoted?" even if that's not really what people are asking, that is one of the things that people are asking, right? That's kind of the subtext of everything, but it's interesting. A lot of people who write in, they usually have the same story, which is, "I did everything my boss asked. I checked all the boxes. I'm a good employee and I still didn't get promoted." So what the heck what's going on.
[00:01:32] They're doing everything right, supposedly, but they're just not rising up. They're playing the game, but they're meeting a ton of resistance. And sometimes that goes on for years. And the reason for that most of the time is that people are being very linear about getting promoted. They think, "All right, I work my ass off in this role. I played by the rules laid out for me. I keep my boss happy. Then I get rewarded." And sure sometimes that does work for people. Maybe if you're in some sort of government agency with rigid hierarchy or seniority that works for you, but a lot of times that's going to fall short. And then these same people that get frustrated understandably, and they stop putting in as much effort, which makes it even harder to get promoted.
[00:02:16] And then that's the cycle that leads a lot of people to write into the show, asking for advice. So we need a new model for getting ahead at work. One that doesn't rely on a company's policies or a traditional idea of what a promotable employee looks like or a boss' loyalty. We need an approach that puts us in the driver's seat and makes a bid for promotion impossible to ignore. So that's what we're going to be talking about today in this deep dive — how to make a strong case for a promotion, maximize your chances of landing it, and build on it to create a thriving career.
[00:02:54] And the first step, ironically enough, is to stop obsessing about a promotion for a moment and just kill it in your current role. So it's funny, most people who are determined to get ahead, especially high performers, they're so focused on rising up that they sometimes forget that they have to be undeniable in their current roles, no matter how much potential they have, no matter how much better suited they are, then the next guy for a more senior position, they still need to have a solid track record.
[00:03:26] So before you think about getting promoted, you really have to rewind the tape a little and make sure that you're well positioned from the start. Being theoretically amazing at a more senior role will not make up for being demonstrably just okay in a junior one. I'll say that again, being theoretically amazing at a more senior role, it's not going to make up for being just okay in a junior role. So before you even approach your supervisors about a bump up or raise or whatever, take some time to honestly assess your performance at this moment.
[00:04:00] Ask yourself a few basic ones — am I fulfilling all of my roles and responsibilities? Is my work as strong and consistent as it could be? Am I cutting any corners? Am I slacking off? Am I sidestepping opportunities in any way? What's my reputation on my team, in my department, across the company? How strong are my relationships with my supervisors, peers, subordinates? If I were giving myself a complete performance review today, where would I be falling short? And this one I love — if I asked my colleagues anonymously what they thought about me, honestly, what would they say? That is a tough one, but that is crucial because it forces us to put ourselves into the shoes of people we maybe don't love all the time and then criticize ourselves. And that's not everyone's favorite activity by any stretch.
[00:04:48] So once you get through that, carve out some time to answer those questions. And answer them, candidly. You're not doing yourself any favors by glossing over anything or BS-ing yourself. Dig deep, be specific, answer them thoroughly, thoughtfully, objectively, and write out your responses. This is not a thought exercise where you can do it while you're driving around or playing racquetball the gym. Write it out and consider talking them out with a trusted colleague, a good friend, or if you have one, a coach to sort of round everything out. And then, use your answers to identify any gaps in your skillset, any weaknesses in your performance, or any opportunities for growth.
[00:05:29] From there, your job is to come up with a handful of concrete, achievable goals or habits to address each of those areas. Your task for the next cycle, three to four months is usually a good timeframe, is to work those goals and create those habits. Not take on new responsibilities, not work on your pitch to get promoted, not to daydream about the raise and the corner office, but to just iron out every wrinkle in your performance. You don't just want your track record to be strong, you want it to be bulletproof wherever possible.
[00:06:04] Now, if you don't have a good sense of how you're doing, where do you actually get that feedback? If you're flying blind about how you're performing, I highly recommend approaching your manager or managers for an informal review. Just book 10 minutes with them one-on-one. Tell them we want to check in on how things are going. Frame this conversation as wanting to have as much constructive feedback as possible in order to do your best work. Most managers are happy to accommodate. Ask them where they think you're doing well, where they think you could improve, and what you could be doing to step up.
[00:06:35] Take notes on paper— not on your phone. It just looks like you're texting — get them to commit to specific expectations and then come up with an action plan together. By having this conversation, you're actually accomplishing two important things. One, obviously, you're getting feedback you need to improve. If a supervisor gives you meaningful feedback, they're basically giving you a roadmap to promotion, which is awesome. From there, you have your marching orders, you know what you need. But just as importantly, you're also signaling to your supervisor, "Hey, I'm curious, I'm dedicated. I'm committed to growing here," and that is huge.
[00:07:11] Then when, of course, you act on their feedback, you're showing them that you take their criticism seriously, and you're willing to do the work to get ahead, which sends all the right signals when it comes time to ask for a promotion. So don't just breeze past this stage too quickly. Once you're confident that you're killing it at your job, then you can turn your attention towards the promotion.
[00:07:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes. That is such good advice. But there is one more step before you actually have that promotion conversation, which is to start performing above your level. Because sometimes all you need to get ahead is to knock it out of the park and your current role. And like Jordan said, that tends to be truer in more rigid organizations, more traditional organizations where there's more structure. But if you want to make a truly bulletproof case for promotion, especially by the way, when there are other people gunning for the same role, then your best bet is to perform at the next level before anybody asks you to and before anybody gives you permission to.
[00:08:09] That way you have real proof that you can handle more responsibility, you know, rather than having to argue that you're ready for the opportunity or, you know, grateful for the chance or whatever it is. This is kind of an entrepreneurial approach, so to speak, to getting ahead in a traditional career — by taking the initiative to do the job, nobody has given you yet, you're proving to your company and to yourself that this promotion in effect has already happened. You didn't wait for anybody to give it to you, you gave it to yourself, and now you're just asking your company to make it official.
[00:08:39] So how do you actually push yourself beyond your current capabilities? How do you take on responsibilities beyond your current role when nobody's actually handing you the keys? Those are great questions. That looks different depending on the job and depending on the company, but you have a ton of options. You could perform your current work at an even higher caliber. You could push it further. You could do it faster or better, or in a more sophisticated way or in an entirely new way that nobody had considered. You could take on a few of the responsibilities of the person above you. You could split the work with them, or you could pitch in here and there. I don't know. You could initiate new projects, create additional responsibilities around your current role, kind of expand the definition of your job in ways that help the company. That is another great way.
[00:09:23] Become more of a leader within your role, as opposed to just an operator who's following instructions from somebody else. Or, you know, you could find opportunities to grow by learning new skills. Maybe you share your own approaches with your other colleagues that kind of puts you more in the manager/educator role. That's also a great way to step up. Or what a lot of people do is you could apprentice under more senior people by supporting them in ways that advance their interests but also up your game.
[00:09:48] So even if your organization isn't explicitly asking you to step up, my advice is to take the initiative anyway, right? There's always a way to get better. There's always a way to expand your role to be more helpful than you are right now. You never need permission to do an even better job. No one's going to be mad at you for going above and beyond, except maybe some of your peers who don't think this way. Right about now you might be thinking, "Yeah. Okay. But why does stepping up matter so much? Like, does it really matter that I step up and give myself this permission if my company is going to promote me anyway? I mean, how do I even know that this will pay off?" And the answer to that is, well, there, isn't a guarantee that your company will promote you anyway. And just doing your job as it's been given to you that might not pay off either. In fact, it often doesn't, that's like we were saying, we hear that all the time on the show. That's why it's so important to give yourself the raise in your mind first, but there are other really, really good reasons to act like you already have a promotion.
[00:10:45] I mean, first of all, performing above your level, that gives you a chance to figure out if you actually like the role that you're gunning for. It's funny a lot of people who write into the show, they fight for a promotion thinking that it's going to give them more excitement, more fulfillment, more power, whatever it is, then they get promoted and they realized that the role isn't all it was cracked up to be. They thought it would make them happy and solve all their problems and give them the responsibility they craved but it actually wasn't as interesting or as fulfilling as they thought. So taking on these responsibilities early, that kind of lets you do a trial run before you're locked into a new position. And then you can decide if you really want the promotion or how you can bend the role to fit your interests.
[00:11:24] The other great reason to take on responsibilities above your level is it makes the transition into that new role so much smoother because then rather than being promoted and having to catch up, you've already greased the skids, right? If you got promoted tomorrow, you could step into the role immediately with no learning curve, no disruption. You'd just be good to go. That eliminates so much stress, a lot of the risk and it makes you look even more like a rockstar. Basically, you're making the new role look effortless, which is like crack for managers, right? But that's because you've been doing the job already for three or six years.
[00:11:58] Also, by the way, performing above your level, that makes your case for promotion so much stronger because rather than going to your boss and saying, "Hey, I've been doing my job for three years. I'm really ready for some more responsibility, whenever you're ready to give it to me." You get to say, "Hey, look, I'm already basically doing this more senior role. I'm killing it in both of my roles. Now, I'd really like to make it official." That is a very different position from which to negotiate. With that approach, it's much harder for your supervisor to deny you the promotion when you already basically gave it to yourself.
[00:12:33] Jordan Harbinger: Your listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show. This is a deep dive on how to ask for a promotion. We'll be right back.
[00:12:38] This episode is sponsored in part by Lectric eBikes. Jen and I share a car. So when we need to pick up takeout or grab groceries, it's actually a lot faster and easier just to take our Lectric eBikes for a spin — eco-friendly, a hell of a lot more fun too. Lectric eBikes starts at just 799, including free shipping, which is a crazy low price considering they're usually like double that online. No surprise. Lectric eBikes is the fastest-growing eBike company in the US. They have thousands of raving five-star reviews, which you can check online as well. What's really unique is that they quickly fold in half, which is extremely convenient. The Lectric eBikes actually fits in our trunk. No need for a bike rack on the car. Cover up to 45 miles at up to 28 miles per hour on just a four to six-hour charge. The bike comes preassembled. You don't have to fiddle around with all that. I've I would not even try myself to assemble a bike. So I was thankful I didn't have to. All you need to do is pump up the tires.
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[00:13:46] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Better Help online therapy. If you've ever considered seeking a therapist, take this as assigned to try it out. I highly recommend Better Help online therapy, whether you feel like you got burnout, maybe feeling a lack of motivation or the myriad of other curve balls that life may bring your way. Better Help online therapy is great. All of their therapists are licensed. They're trained, professional therapists. Available worldwide 24/7, and they have therapy available now for couples and even teen counseling as well. Also, Better Help takes privacy very seriously. You can stay anonymous if you'd like. And I love that about them. Communicate by video, phone, even live chat, right from the comfort of your home. You can text things to your therapist at any time right when you are thinking of it, which would work really well for someone like me, who's always got thoughts popping into his head. There's also a journal in the Better Help app you can use and share with your therapist. It's more affordable than in-person therapy, and you can get matched with a therapist in under 48 hours. If you don't click with your therapist, you can switch. No additional charge.
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[00:15:25] Now back to our deep dive on how to ask for a promotion.
[00:15:29] So what does stepping up actually look like in practice? One of the best ways is to take on a piece of the job you want alongside your current role. You kind of hinted at this, right? So let's take an example. Let's imagine for a second, that you're a customer service rep at a tech company and your job is to help users fix their tech issues, probably using a set of customer support scripts that appear on a screen. Your current job in a nutshell is to resolve support tickets. Your manager's job — the level you want to rise up to — is to increase customer satisfaction, retain users, make the department as efficient as possible. But as you work with users, maybe you start developing some new approaches to helping customers.
[00:16:11] For example, by talking to them in a certain way, making them feel taken care of, asking certain questions in a certain order, finding ways to diagnose problems more quickly, whatever it is, you can then test those new techniques out for a month. Gather some data on how well they work. For example, you can measure whether your script prevents customers from canceling their subsequent or increases their satisfaction ratings or reduces average call time. Then you put together a little memo or a deck, and you present those findings to your manager. Like, "Hey, I found some exciting ways to do my job better. I'd love to share these new ideas with you." Then maybe you work with your manager and refine the recommendations, implement them across the department. For example, by incorporating your new scripts into a support manual, training your peers on your new techniques. Maybe you share them with other department.
[00:16:59] If you took initiative in that way, you'd be showing that you can do more than just answer calls and read from a script. You'd be demonstrating that you can think like a manager, improve the infrastructure of the department, and contribute to the company as a whole. In other words, you're acting like a leader. And then when it's time to ask for a promotion, you can point to initiatives like that as evidence that you're not just ready to rise up, you have already risen up. And now, you want your title and compensation to reflect that.
[00:17:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, exactly. That's a great example of what we were just talking about. Another way to step up is to carve out a job that doesn't exist yet. Sometimes the position above you isn't clearly defined, or maybe you're interested in a role that doesn't actually exist yet. And in those cases, your best bet is to initiate new projects or new responsibilities that basically carve out the job that you're gunning for.
[00:17:49] So let's quickly take an example. I recently heard about this from a friend of mine who worked at a big company. So let's imagine that you're a financial analyst, like my friend who works at a consumer goods company and your job basically in a nutshell, is to help prepare the company's financial statements. But like my friend, you're interested in a more sophisticated role. One that would probably be more analytical, maybe interface with the sales team, the product team, a way that you could use your quant skills to do more strategic analysis, something more exciting. But right now nobody's doing that job. In fact, your company doesn't seem to know even that role would be valuable. It happens all the time.
[00:18:26] So let's say that for a few hours each week, you take it upon yourself to start doing that kind of analysis just on your own. So, for example, maybe you build a model to calculate how much it costs to acquire different types of customers and come up with some recommendations about, you know, which customer segments the companies should be prioritizing. Or maybe you find a better way to measure the true profit margins of different products, so the company has better insight into where their earnings are coming from, where they should be focusing their marketing spend, for example.
[00:18:55] After you create that intel, you could take your analysis to, I don't know, the head of finance or the CFO, whoever it is, and discuss your findings. Maybe you and your boss present your recommendations to other departments that could use your data to make better decisions. Maybe you put together a monthly dashboard, send it to the C-suite, maybe even teach other people at other departments how to do the same analysis so they can generate their own insights, whatever it is. If you created a project like that, you would be showing that you can do more than just basic financial reporting.
[00:19:25] You would be proving that you can think strategically. That you can collaborate well with your colleagues, that you can use your analysis to improve the business overall. Then when you ask the CFO to be the company's, whatever the title is, the first director of strategic finance — it's a cool title. You can point to this work as proof that you can do the job and also by the way that the company truly needs this position.
[00:19:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, exactly. Sometimes it's you have to prove that you're even the extra promotion that you're getting, the imaginary one is actually a necessary role in the first place.
[00:19:56] Another great way to step up is just to find ways to support your boss. I know that sounds really obvious, but most people don't look for this. In some organizations, it's just not possible to take on full responsibilities above your role. Maybe you're spread too thin as it is. Maybe your boss is territorial about their work, or maybe you just don't have the experience to do the job yet, but that doesn't mean that you're boxed into your role. Even in situations like this, you can still punch above your weight by offering to support the person above you in smaller ways.
[00:20:28] So take an example, I remember from my law days. Imagine you're an associate at a law firm working in the financial services group. You know that in the next five years you want to be a partner, which means you would have to bring new clients to the firm, but you don't have the relationships or experience yet to bring in new business. Rather than twiddle your thumbs till somebody gives you a shot and you find a magic Rolodex in the street, you can book a meeting with one of the partners in your group and ask them if they could use some support drumming up new business. If they say, yes, start breaking off pieces of what they do and sending them your way.
[00:21:02] Maybe the partner says they want to reach out to the chief legal officers of the 50 biggest banks in the country. So you create a spreadsheet with their names, contact info, top challenges as you see it, do a little analysis. Maybe the partner says they need to get up to speed on a new kind of financial instrument so they can talk about it with a client and you do the research to create a report for them. Maybe the partner even asks you to attend meetings with prospective clients. You tag along to take notes, chime in, follow up on any action items. Then over time, you start taking on more and more responsibility. Maybe the partner invites you to tag team a few accounts together. Maybe you apply what you're learning and set up some meetings with prospective clients on your own if you're allowed to do that. Try and bag your own accounts. Maybe you start to become an expert in a very sort of specific random niche. I don't know, emerging cryptocurrency exchange law. So you can carve out your own little fiefdom in the legal world.
[00:21:57] If you make yourself available to your boss in this way, you're slowly stepping into the role that you want even if you're not actually ready to take it on yet. You might not be able to sign a client tomorrow, but you can definitely support the person who can plus you're learning what being a firm partner is all about. Then when the time comes to make your case for becoming a partner yourself, you can point to all the work you did in supporting and learning from other partners. Once you do that, then it's time to actually make your case for promotion. Once you're thriving in your current role, and you're performing above your level, you're in the best possible position to ask for the promotion. If you've done everything right up to this point, then this step should actually be the easiest part.
[00:22:39] So how do you actually do it? Well, that really starts by one, putting it in writing. The first step is to create some kind of document that makes the case for your promotion. This could be an email, memo, presentation, or just some notes you're going to use to guide an in-person conference. Choose the format that best reflects your audience and environment. For example, if you work under a senior vice president on a 50-person team in a huge company and they require, I don't know, you need input from multiple departments to approve a promotion. You probably want to create a memo or a deck to make your case. But if you work at an eight-person family-owned business, a memo or a deck, it might seem oddly formal in places like that. You're probably going to have more success inviting the founder out to lunch to chat about your future. But even in a less formal setting, it still helps to memorialize your request in some form, like an email. That way you can lay out a solid case before you have the conversation in person. And you're on record asking for the promotion. And even in a more formal company, you might want to start with a conversation about your future and then follow up with a formal promotion request by email.
[00:23:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, but whatever format you choose — by the way, even if you're a shoe-in for a promotion, you still have to make a compelling case. So whether it's an email or an in-person conversation, a great pitch for promotion should really cover five things — what you've been doing in your current role, the responsibilities you've taken on above and beyond your current role. The impact that your work has had on the team and the company as a whole. The promotion that you're asking for specifically, whether it's title change, salary, benefits, responsibilities, whatever it is and why you believe you deserve that promotion now. And finally, and in some ways, this is the most important thing, what this promotion will enable you to do for the company going forward. If you can speak to those five things, then your case for promotion should be pretty airtight.
[00:24:33] Now, it's interesting. If you do this exercise and you find it hard to make your case, then that probably means you need to go back to the last two steps and make sure that you've really laid the groundwork. In fact, working on this pitch and advance, that's a great way to identify any gaps in your case before you're stuck in the office with the CFO, like ad-libbing some weak case for why you deserve the promotion. And even though you should get your house in order before you consider a promotion, you can always imagine what your pitch would be. It's funny. We've talked to a lot of people through the show who put together this document, and then they realized that they still have work to do, to make their case really strong. And then they spend the next six months or nine months filling in the gaps. Then they go back and actually ask for the promotion. So you can almost use this step as an exercise to find those weak points before you throw your hat in the ring, which is a great use of time.
[00:25:22] Now, like I said, a moment ago, the last piece of this pitch, what the promotion will allow you to do for the organization in the future, that's arguably the most crucial piece of this. Because explaining what you hope to accomplish in your new role, that signals all the right things, not just that you're interested in your own advancement, but also that you care about continuing to make an impact on the company. That you're committed to it for the long term that you want to keep growing. It's basically a way of saying, "Look, here's what your ROI will be on my raise, but also if you want me to stick around and do all of this great stuff, you're going to have to promote me." That's a really solid business case. So if you can articulate that in a conversation, you're going to be hitting all the right notes.
[00:26:03] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show. This is a deep dive on how to ask for a promotion. We'll be right back.
[00:26:09] This episode is sponsored in part by BiOptimizers. The folks at BiOptimizers have released a new and improved formula from Magnesium Breakthrough. They're always doing continued research and improve the magnesium supplement. Magnesium can help improve sleep and energy levels and muscle cramps. When Jen was pregnant, on days, she took magnesium breakthrough. She didn't have like cramps. It was a clear difference for her look, anecdotal, but it's there. The new formula now includes co-factors like B6 and manganese that help with the absorption of magnesium. Magnesium is involved in 80 percent of the body's metabolic reactions. And about 75 percent of people are not getting enough magnesium. In every bottle of Magnesium Breakthrough, you get seven unique forms of organic full-spectrum magnesium. They recommend taking two capsules before bed.
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[00:28:12] Now, back to our deep dive on how to ask for a promotion.
[00:28:17] Of course, while you do all that, you're going to want to tap into your relationships as well. Of course, you hear me harp on this all the time on every show, but the last variable integrate promotion bid is the people who can vouch for you. When undeniably great employees fail to get ahead, it's usually because this piece is missing. They've gone all in on their work. They're keeping their head down, but they haven't invested in the people who can help them get ahead. And some people find this distasteful, but this is the reality of the situation. It doesn't mean you got to be a brown noser.
[00:28:46] All right, so who are these people? Basically, anyone who can speak to your accomplishments, your potential and your value to the company, obviously that includes your managers, your supervisors, other executives but it also includes your peers and sometimes even your subordinates. Having great relationships at work, it's not just about being politically connected so you can game the system. It's also about being trusted at all levels of the organization because, ultimately, you're going to be promoted by people who will put you in a position with other people. So your colleague's opinion of you matters and it matters in a big way.
[00:29:23] So when you ask for a promotion, you might want to consider asking your champions within the company to put in a good word with the powers that be, if they're not doing so already. Of course, if you wait until your promotion to start making these connections, you're kind of too late and that'll probably backfire. You got to dig that well before you get thirsty. In fact, digging that well is part of the first two phases of this whole thing — crushing it in your current role and performing above your level. Those both include building strong relationships with your managers, with your teammates, with your subordinates, with your customers, really with anyone you interact within your role. You want to create those connections long before you ask them to put in a good word.
[00:30:04] And if you want to learn more about that "always be giving" mindset, I definitely recommend checking out our six-minute networking course. jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find it. It's free. Most of y'all know that, jordanharbinger.com/course. Of course, asking someone to put in a good word for you on a promotion, it's delicate. I don't recommend asking for this favor if you don't have a meaningful relationship with the person. I also wouldn't ask in a way that crosses any political lines, for example, by asking, a department head to meddle in an independent selection committee's decision, stuff like that. And I obviously wouldn't ask people who don't have the ability to help you out or whose endorsement might actually backfire. The last thing you want to do is put someone in an awkward position or shoot yourself in the foot by having Gary, the kleptomaniac sociopath in finance come out as your champion. Like, "Isn't Gary, the guy who stole the office supplies and ended up getting disciplined and not getting—?" "Yeah, he loves Jordan."
[00:31:00] So your best bet is to be open and respectful. When you ask somebody to put in a good word on your behalf. I recommend saying something like, "Hey, listen, I've been working really hard this past year. I really want to rise up here. What do you think I should be doing starting now to make that happen?" Begin the conversation, listen carefully to their advice, feel them out. If you follow their advice, develop the relationship, get the sense that they're a champion, then you can work up to the request. Maybe you say, "I have a favor to ask and please don't be afraid to say no, but how do you feel about sharing your opinion of my work with the team? Would that be doable? Do you think it would give them a helpful person?" Then be willing to hear yes or no. And don't push harder if you meet resistance.
[00:31:44] Most importantly, remember that a good word should push your promotion over the finish line, not carry it through the whole race. The last thing you want to do is use your relationships to compensate for a weak track record. If you feel like you're using your relationships to compensate, go back to step one, repeat the process. You still have work to do. The ideal scenario is that you create a bulletproof case for promotion and a few of your fans confirm that you're the person for the job. You can tap into some social capital to tip the scales, but you have earned that capital based on your talent, your contributions, and your reputation.
[00:32:20] Once you do that, ideally, you land the promotion or the raise or the bigger role, and then it's time to negotiate the specifics if that's on the table. Now, we could go on and on about the nuts and bolts of negotiation, that's a whole other episode or three. So instead we pulled together a bunch of amazing episodes with some of the top negotiation experts in the world from entrepreneur, Alex Kouts, to FBI negotiator, Chris Voss, to best-selling author, Ramit Sethi. You can find those in the show notes for this episode. I highly recommend checking them out. That list is basically a masterclass in negotiation.
[00:32:53] Also, we're going to be releasing a course on negotiation with Alex Kouts. It's going to be ready in several months. Go to jordanharbinger.com, check the website. It's going to be featured prominently there. It doesn't exist yet as of this recording. So make sure you had a look because it's going to be designed for asking for raises and promotions specifically. So it's going to be geared right towards this. And we're probably going to end up dropping that in the beginning of this episode and in many other episodes, but that's going to be at jordanharbinger.com.
[00:33:20] All right. Once that's all squared away, the only thing left to do is step into your new role and do it all over again. Once you begin your new role, you are off to the races. From there, the cycle begins a new. The beauty of this system is that you can keep working it over and over again. If you want to keep rising up in your organization, spend the next few months, maybe a year, absolutely crushing it in your new role. Then slowly start performing above your new level again — up your game, build the relationships you want, acquire the experience you need, carve out responsibilities beyond your role, initiate new projects, support the people above you. Then when you feel confident about your performance, ask for the next promotion, negotiate it, and step into your new role.
[00:34:07] Everything we've talked about in this deep dive applies to every career at every level of an organization. And it's a virtuous cycle. The more you punch above your weight, the more responsibility you're going to get, the more you'll grow, the stronger your relationships are going to become. The more you're going to want to apply your assets to new opportunities and the more you'll rise up. That really is a flywheel of self-advancement..
[00:34:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, exactly. The system basically perpetuates itself in a very cool way. Now, there is one more thing we need to talk about before we wrap up here. And I'm guessing it's already on some people's minds, which is what do I do if I do all of this and I still don't get the promotion. And that is a very fair question, because as we know, sometimes even the best employees don't get the promotions they deserve. And they're always just so many variables at play in any job. There's politics, culture, competition from other people, timing and luck, and budget constraints or whatever it is.
[00:35:02] So what do you do if you try all of this and you still don't get ahead? I mean, does that mean that the whole framework just doesn't work in some cases? I would argue, no, not at all. In fact, the system works, even when you don't end up getting your promotion, if — and it's an important if — you open up your perspective and use it the right way. It might take two or three rotations through this flywheel before it launches you into the next stage of your career. That's part of how it works. And sometimes that's fair. Sometimes that's exactly the way it should work. None of what we're talking about as a shortcut for success, it's just a roadmap for putting in the work and earning the promotion. But to make it work, you have to adopt a few mindsets to get there.
[00:35:44] So for example, to rise up using the system, you definitely have to be humble. You have to be open and you have to be patient. So if you get passed over for promotion, do your best to take it in stride. Rejection is never fun — we know that — but pushing back, getting resentful, or just giving up, that's not going to help matters and it'll make it a lot harder to find the hidden opportunity within the setback.
[00:36:08] So as best you can, if you don't get what you want, immediately accept the decision, invite whatever thoughts and feelings and ideas get stirred up. Sometimes it's very normal to get angry or disappointed, maybe a little bit embarrassed, or just have this idea in your mind that your bosses don't value you or people don't want you to rise up, whatever it is, very common. Just take some time to process those feelings. It is okay to lick your wounds for a few weeks after you get turned down for promotion it's appropriate. It's part of the process. But most importantly, it's important to be patient up to a point. Not all promotions are going to arrive on your timeline.
[00:36:44] Sometimes you have to wait for all of the variables to align. Sometimes you have to put in way more work than you anticipated, but there's always a larger process at play. And while you do that, keep gathering feedback, that's really the linchpin of this whole approach. When it's appropriate book some time with your manager or your managers, whoever they are. I would go in there and just say, "Thank you for considering my promotion request. I'm bummed. It didn't go my way this time, but I'm still here. I'm still putting in the work and I'm still eager to be the best possible colleague." And then I would ask them, "Where did my case for promotion fall short?" Make it okay for them to tell you honestly, where you need to improve, how you could position yourself better in the next round.
[00:37:22] Most importantly, I would push them to be precise. And it's very common for bosses to get a little bit vague when you start to ask them for feedback after things didn't go your way. Don't settle for feedback, like, you know, "Just keep putting in the work, buddy," or, you know, like, "I need you to be more consistent with your deliverables," or whatever it is. Make sure their recommendations are practical. That they're specific. Make them tell you which new targets they want you to hit, or which aspects of your deliverables need to be more consistent. And also in what way, which experiences or projects or certifications do they recommend you take to level up, make them commit to those details. And then use their responses to come up with an action plan. And you could even run that plan by them afterward and get their buy-in, so you're all on the same page, but the key is to be open to learning even more taking on new projects, forming new relationships.
[00:38:12] And from there, you're really back to stage one of the flywheel where your job is just to keep crushing it in your role again. But this time you're armed with more feedback, you have new feedback to perform in the way your managers really expect. So run with it and then rebuild your case over the next cycle. Stay in touch with your managers to make sure that you're on track. And then when the time is right, you just try again.
[00:38:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. At that point, hopefully, you land the promotion you've been chasing, but if you still don't land it after two, three, four tries, whatever, I think I would consider making a change. Sometimes a company or a boss just isn't willing to reward your hard work. If you're killing it and your company turns down your promotion several times, it's totally fair and smart actually, in my opinion, to start looking at other options.
[00:38:58] But here's the cool part. Even if you find yourself at this juncture, this whole system still works because if you interview for a new job somewhere else, you're now a much more compelling candidate than you would have been otherwise. Now, you don't just get to speak to whatever you did in your last role. You get to speak to all these additional responsibilities, that entrepreneurial lens, the management ability, and who knows you might even end up jumping to a more senior role at this new company. In effect, you've done that job already, even if your previous employer didn't officially recognize you for it, if anything, that just makes you an even more attractive hire.
[00:39:33] So as you embrace the flywheel, open up your aperture a little bit. You might use the system to rise up in your company as you should, but you'll also find that it's really an approach to your entire career. If this system leads you into a frustrating obstacle, an unexpected role, a new opportunity, just roll with it. Rising up is rarely as linear as we imagined. Sometimes it takes us sideways, backwards, off the beaten path, but as long as you follow these principles at every step, it won't be a waste of time. It won't lead you astray. There's always a way forward. There's always a way up within your current organization or maybe someplace even better.
[00:40:12] So there you have it. That's our approach. And Gabe, you know, it just occurred to me. I feel like most people get promoted now by leaving one company and going to another one. There's got to be data on this but I feel half of promotions now are people leaving a company and going to a new one for a more senior role versus getting promoted inside a company. I feel like getting promoted inside a company, it almost sounds so retro.
[00:40:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Or like those people who read in recently to the show who left their company to go take a senior role at another company, and then came back to the first company in an even more senior role. Yes, it is very common to rise up in that way. But look, if somebody wants to rise up within their organization or jump ship and go somewhere else, it's the same exact approach. This really works no matter where you end up.
[00:40:54] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. As we mentioned before, there's a ton here. I know this will help you, whether you're up for a promotion at work right now or not. Also, please share this episode with those you think would find it useful. These deep dives can change the trajectory of someone's career and/or their very life. So please think of somebody who can use it and then bend their ear to it.
[00:41:12] A review or summary of what we discussed today, as well as a written outline of all the tactics we discussed is in our article on how to ask for a promotion. That is, of course, at our articles page at jordanharbinger.com/articles. If you'd rather read this or skim it again or share it with somebody else, who's too lazy to listen to a podcast, but we'll read an article. Again, that's at jordanharbinger.com/article.
[00:41:33] Show notes have links to books from guests. They also have transcripts. Videos go up on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes are all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support this show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram or connect with me on LinkedIn.
[00:41:50] I'm teaching you how to connect with amazing folks. I use software, I use systems, and I use tiny habits. I do it every single day. It's going to take you like five minutes a day. I'm teaching you how to do that in a course. It's a free course. jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find it. Dig the well before you get thirsty, and if you're angling for a promotion, this is one of those mandatory skill sets. And the guests you hear on the show are largely also contributing to this same course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[00:42:16] The show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends and he finds something useful or interesting. Like I said, if you know somebody who needs to get a promotion, is up for a promotion, or wants to be up for a promotion, definitely share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:42:52] If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into here's a trailer for another episode that I think you might enjoy.
[00:42:59] Every week, I get at least a couple of emails from strangers asking me for some form of it. And look, on some level, I actually respect these emails, but I'm in year 15 of hosting this show and I haven't taken more than just a tiny handful of people up on this offer because what they were offering was not something I actually needed. And in almost every case when I tried to tell them what I actually did need, then they'll come back with something like, "Well, that's not really what I'm aiming at," and this is why they fail to get their foot in the door. These creative job seekers, they've got it all backwards. That's why in the creative sphere, those people rarely succeed.
[00:43:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: The big irony, of course, is that candidates would be serving their own interests much better if they just stopped focusing on them exclusively. You have to locate your own value within someone else's need, not try to bend somebody else to your value.
[00:43:53] Jordan Harbinger: Which brings us to the briefcase technique. The last time this was done right to me, I walked into the bathroom with my business partner at the time. And I go, "I don't think we can afford to not hire this guy." And he goes, "That's exactly what I was thinking." One of the reasons that the briefcase technique works so well is that it does embody the principle, which is make it about the other person first, but it also pushes that idea a step further. It actually anticipates those needs. It's music to any busy person's ears. Plus before you even set foot in the room, you're basically saying, "I've taken the time. I've put in the effort to really understand where you're coming from." And that is exactly the message you want to send when you're trying to get your foot in the door.
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