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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

  • Taking a job for the money
  • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
  • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
  • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
  • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

1. Be a Mentor

When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

“Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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This can get you stuck.

Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

“Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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  1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
  2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
  3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

2. Work on Your Mindset

Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

“If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

3. Improve Your Soft Skills

When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

    According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

    You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

    Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

    Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why do you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    Define success to get promoted

      These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

      Final Thoughts

      After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

      Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

      More Tips on How to Get Promoted

      Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Kris McPeak

      Educator, Author, Career Change and Work/Life Balance Guru

      How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position 8 Impressive Questions to Ask During an Interview 6 Important Interview Questions for Employers to Ask Why Job Satisfaction Is Important If You Want to Succeed Should I Quit My Job If It Makes Me Unhappy but Pays Well?

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      Last Updated on January 14, 2021

      8 Reasons Why You’re Unhappy at Work (And What to Do)

      8 Reasons Why You’re Unhappy at Work (And What to Do)

      Work isn’t great right now. Do you remember when you were so excited to get this job? But now, the excitement of change and accomplishment has worn off, and you find yourself in a general state of unhappiness at work…

      Why are you really unhappy at work? There are plenty of reasons to be unhappy in your job role and it is easy to place blame on other people or things out of your control. What is the real reason, underneath your excuses and the feeling of just knowing you aren’t happy?

      And why don’t you just quit? That is always the go to move, isn’t it? You don’t like your job, quit it and find another. But after a few jobs, you find that the problem isn’t the job, it is like no matter what dream job you get, you end up back here. Unhappy. Even if this job was your dream before, the crushing reality that it is not all you thought it would be is setting in. And in reality, not all of us can just quit our jobs and flit off and get their dream job, we have lives and responsibilities.

      So I compiled a helpful list of all the top 8 reasons people are unhappy at work and what to do about it to help you move forward towards a happier life in your current job role.

      1. You Hate Your Boss

      Your boss, thou who decides thy fate doth hath the uncanny ability to rub you up the wrong way. Not everyone likes their boss, we all dream of this perfect boss who doesn’t micro manage and isn’t incompetent. But nobody is perfect, not even your dream boss.

      Your boss controls your work environment, they organize work, define your job role and is your support network and back up if you reach a problem. If you have an issue with your boss, it’s time to take some responsibility and do something about it. You are not responsible for your boss’ behavior but you can control your reactions, actions and attitude moving forward.

      If you walk into the office every day committing to hate your boss, there is no room for growth or amending fences. You need to decide to find a way to make this work, here are the 3 things you can do to help you take control of your happiness at work:

      • Discuss your issues with your boss and find a way you can both work together. Team up and create a plan so that you can both work and not vex each other.
      • Improve your communication skills with them. We all communicate in different ways, you need to find a way to see eye to eye. Find out how they communicate and learn to communicate in that way so that they will respond to you better because they feel heard and understood.
      • Step up. If you can’t reason with your boss and they keep shutting you down, find a way to work around them so you don’t have to rely on them. Take on more responsibility.

      2. You Hate Your Co-Workers

      We ALL have co-workers we do not like, they drive us up the wall in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Your happiness is dependent on your environment and, if you spend 40+ hours of your week in an environment that doesn’t make you happy, you will be unhappy.

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      Co-workers play a huge part in this, as social creatures, we crave social interaction and we are forced to socialize with our co workers simply by proximity. If we are surrounded by negative people who don’t make us feel good about ourselves, unhappiness and a drop in self confidence follows.

      What can we do about this? We have two options when dealing with annoying co workers:

      • Change your attitude about them. Realize that the things your co-workers are doing that annoy you are just reflections of your own inner judgement. For example, Brenda from accounting tells lots of white lies and it drives you mad because you hate lying. That is an issue with your experiences with lying and not something you can control. You can’t control their actions (the white lies) but you can control your reactions (your very obvious eye roll and comment). Instead of responding negatively to them, change the narrative to a more positive judgement and release the negative one. Re-write who you think they are and see the other side of the picture. So when Brenda tells a small white lie, think about how she does it to make someone else feel better, even if she doesn’t believe it herself, she’s compassionate and focus on the good.
      • Avoid them. Some people are just incompatible, it can’t be helped and if you can’t change them or accept them for who they are, simply avoid them at all costs. Requests to move desks if you have too, find a way to not be around them if they are causing you this much pain and stress.

      3. Your Job Isn’t Fun or Rewarding

      Your job isn’t always going to be fun and games; and when it no longer becomes rewarding, you are going to feel unhappy. Human beings thrive on rewards and entertainment and we love competition. By making your work environment fun and rewarding, you will start to enjoy going to work.

      How can you make your job more fun and rewarding?

      • You can try creating games for yourself to play, friendly competitions with your co workers (if you like them!)
      • Create a rewards system so if you hit a target or goal, you get a coffee from Starbucks or another small treat. An example of this would be, if you close 3 files by 5pm, you get to have a cocoa nib; or if you win today’s sales target, you get to have the victory trophy on your desk for the day.

      4. You Don’t Believe in the Work That You Are Doing

      This one is one of the core reasons you’re unhappy in a job role; you are living out of alignment of your core values.

      If your job role doesn’t match up with your core values, then you will be miserable. If you value helping people and you work in program coding, you will struggle to be happy, unlike someone whose values problem solving.

      It isn’t impossible to enjoy your job if your values don’t align with your work. You could reason that by doing program coding, you are helping someone, be it your co-workers or the people who will eventually use your project. You can always flip your perspective.

      Learn what your core values are and find a way for them to align with your job role, in doing so changing the motivation that drives you to do your work. For example, to help people or to problem solve.

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      And if you can’t, maybe it is time to start to consider a career change into a job you have always wanted to do secretly, deep down.

      5. You Feel Stagnant in Your Job Role and You Are Bored

      Your job isn’t going anywhere and you feel like you are wasting your time on this earth, feeling utterly unfulfilled. We love being safe and secure but we also love progression, we get bored of the same ol’ same old, we want new challenges and things to do. If you are just pushing through papers, day in day out, you will become unhappy so what can you do about it?

      • Apply for a promotion or ask for new challenges from your boss.
      • Mix up your attitude, find ways to make it more fun and exciting.
      • Shop around for a promotion at another firm.

      6. You Are Underpaid

      You feel underpaid for the work that you are doing and it is making you feel unhappy because all the hard work you are putting in isn’t being appreciated enough. If it was, you wouldn’t feel underpaid.

      Let’s ask the hard question, are you really being underpaid? Or do you just feel unappreciated or overworked? Maybe it is because you have taken on additional responsibilities and you feel like you aren’t being rewarded accordingly.

      People who are unhappy because they feel underpaid are stressed about money, they are working hard and it is going unnoticed and unappreciated.

      The key component at play here is stress. Increasing bills and expenses in their personal life, general life stresses, more and more work is coming in and it is being unrewarded and you feel like you need a reward for handling all this stress. And you do, but you have been purchasing stress relief for a while and you need more money to pay for more stress relief, as more stresses get dropped into your inbox each day.

      If you feel underpaid, it is because you don’t love your work and it’s is not worth the amount of stress for your salary. Have you heard that famous quote:

      Working for something you don’t care about is called Stress. Working for something you do care about is called Passion.

      Here are things you can do to spark happiness when you are feeling underpaid

      • Reignite your passion with your work, find meaning in it and see the results that you are creating. Every day you come in and you make a difference somehow, start to see how it’s affecting other people, and start to appreciate yourself for doing it.
      • Ask for a raise. Simple but often never done option.
      • If you are being underpaid and if there is no room for a raise (and you have asked), then I suggest finding ways to reduce your stress levels. Trying things like guided meditations, exercise or stress relieving hobbies can reduce the feeling of being undervalued because your life is suddenly so much more than just working for money.

      7. You Are Overwhelmingly Overworked

      We all get burnt out from work sometimes as work comes in flows of business. And at some point, you crack and the pressure and stress gets to be a little too much; especially since you have sacrificed your personal life just to try and keep on top of this ever increasing workload.

      If you feel overworked, you need to learn some self-care so you can keep on top of the burnout:

      • Stop helping out unnecessarily, at least until you feel under worked. Start saying no to anything that isn’t vitally important.
      • Find a way to automate or reduce your workload. Delegate, hire new staff, get programs into to automate parts of your job role.
      • Keep on top of your mental health, make sure you are doing the necessary things to keep it in check, whatever your process is (or find a process and implement it).
      • Set boundaries. Work shouldn’t be your life, if you say you are clocking off at 6, you clock off at 6. Set hard boundaries because this technologically advancing modern world will push them. If you finish work, don’t check your emails, leave the office, go do something recreational to help you relax and rest, I advise going on a walk to let your head relax.

      8. You Are Feeling Really Unappreciated at Work

      One of the core driving elements in humans is our need for recognition and if it goes un appeased, you will feel unhappy. You can try and force appreciation out of your co-workers and bosses, like a child with their 10th crayon drawing sticking it under their parents noses and gladly proclaiming what they have done. But that is never as satisfying as it seems and the validation received is not authentic enough, it feels hollow and empty.

      So what can you do about it since you cannot control anyone expression appreciation of your hard work?

      Be the change you want to see in the office. Create an initiative to show everyone else they are appreciated, I bet that half of your office feel unappreciated.

      Start a culture of appreciation and gratitude, start thanking people and noticing their hard work. Go out of your way to make someone else feel appreciated, the more you do it, the better your environment will become.

      With all things, Expectation equals Manifestation. If you treat everyone with appreciation and make an effort, they will most certainly make an effort to appreciate you back. Someone just has to start the chain, why shouldn’t it be you?

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      All of these issues can also be resolved by you quitting your job and finding a greener field. Sometimes your job just sucks, your boss is just unworkable, no matter how positive you are, people are always unappreciative and negative and you really are underpaid.

      What If You Hate Your Job But Can’t Quit?

      There is a difference between being unhappy in your job role and hating your job which makes it much harder when you want to quit and you can’t. Not everyone can just quit their job whenever they feel like it, even with some savings hidden away, you have bills to pay, a social life to maintain (when you can get one!) and people who rely on you. But you HATE your job, you wake up in the morning and you really wish you could wake up as somebody else in an alternate timeline.

      Here are our top 3 things to do when you really hate your job and can’t quit.

      1. Change departments or job roles within the business. Shop around, see if there is another role that would be more suited to you or that you would actually find more interesting.
      2. Change your attitude. You attitude controls your reality, if you wake up and decide that you hate work, you are not going to have a good day. Change your mindset from negative to gratitude. Make a list of all the reasons you are grateful for your job, it may take a while, but the more reasons you find the be grateful, the easier it is going to work will become.
      3. Apply for other jobs, there is nothing stopping you from quitting your job if you have another solid job lined up and if it’s making you THAT miserable. No amount of money is worth the struggle to your mental health.

      Final Thoughts

      Remember that happiness is completely within your control. How you handle outside influences trying to wreak havoc on your happiness by putting you down and making you feel unworthy is completely up to you.

      You can’t always let every comment bounce off you like water off a duck’s back, but you can control the environment you are in, the attitude in which you face adversity, and you control what you think. Make an effort to learn to see things in another way because even if you quit and go to a greener grass, not everything will always be “perfect”.

      More About Leading a Fulfiling Career

      Featured photo credit: Mimi Thian via unsplash.com

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