when is the best time to ask for a promotion?

11/02/2019 03:42:31

The performance appraisal period is just around the corner. For most of us, we see this as an opportunity to make our expectations known to our managers, so that we can be one step closer to our career goals and ask for promotion opportunities.

However, this also means we would be expected to lead the conversation about our career aspirations with our managers, the human resources team as well as the management team at large - which can be intimidating for some.

Everyone's growth path is different and there is no absolute approach to how each of us should progress in our career. However, you can take charge of yours by learning how to successfully negotiate for a promotion, pay raise or bonus.  

is there really a right time to ask for a promotion? 

Yes, there is always an appropriate time to ask for a promotion, as long as you know that you are deserving of it.

While this sounds like an 'easier said than done' situation, what you actually need to do is pluck up the courage to have an open and honest conversation with your manager. 

1. don’t wait for performance appraisal periods.

While performance appraisal may be the right time to ask for promotion or a salary increment, but you can also choose to raise it during other times. Larger companies are ditching formal performance appraisals and introducing regular check-ins with their staff. This approach reflects the company’s agility to keep up with the changing business environment due to digitalisation and evolving customer demands. Employees’ job scopes are regularly revised to better address the current work challenges and opportunities. 

These regular check-ins also provide managers and staff with the flexibility to discuss resource planning, revised goals and career development path. This way, expectations can be better managed throughout the year. It is also a great platform for you to share any new ideas that have the potential to improve outcomes. Sharing well thought-out ideas with your manager regularly shows your initiative and readiness to take on more job responsibilities. 

Since these meetings are not fixed, you can even proactively ask your manager for a meeting. You can highlight recent accomplishments and new responsibilities that are not reflected in your job scope. Through these conversations, you can start building a case to ask about your chances for a promotion or pay raise. 

2. raise your hand when you are ready for a promotion.

Nobody will know that you are prepared or want a promotion or a pay raise unless you make your intentions known. It does not hurt to be forthright and find out how you can position yourself for the promotion or be considered for a pay raise. 

You should always ask your manager about your career progression path in the organisation. The best time to proactively ask for a boost in your career is after a successful project launch or when your contributions start to have an impact on the bottom line. These are all good indications that you are ready for more responsibilities such as taking on a new project or expanding your role to other functions or markets. 

The key is to manage your expectations, and avoid coming across as too aggressive when doing so, as there might be a chance that you would need to prove yourself further by meeting stretch goals so that your manager can build a better case for your promotion to the management team. At least for now, you’ll know what you need to do to get a better compensation or progress further in your career.

3. ask for your promotion right now.

When should you ask for a promotion or a pay raise? Some people say timing is everything, but it ultimately boils down to the current economic state.

Hong Kong is expected to report moderate growth this year, and companies are taking advantage of it to invest in areas of potential growth. Companies are also hiring talent with niche specialisations and upskilling their talent pool so that can leverage technology to become more efficient and productive. 

This is a great time for you to connect with your managers to show how your work has made a positive impact on the company’s goals and how you intend to continue to upskill yourself to add more value to the company. This will help kickstart the conversation about a possible promotion. 

However, don’t use this as a threat to leave in the hope of getting a counter offer. Employers can often see through such tactics, and once they feel that your values are no longer aligned with the company’s, they might not be inclined to retain you.

make it a meaningful conversation with your boss about the promotion.

When you prepare for the conversation with your manager, make sure that you have a record of all of your contributions in the company. Especially of the occasions when your inputs had made a significant difference to the situation. Save emails of positive feedback that you’ve received from your customers or colleagues in a separate folder on your desktop and have them ready to show to your manager. You should also support your claims with hard numerical data and other tangible evidence to build an even stronger case. 

Nothing can be more disappointing to your manager than a baseless request. This is why it is critical that you come well-prepared for the conversation with them. 

You have to prove why you deserve the promotions. Most importantly, no matter what the outcomes are of your first negotiation attempt - in your favour or otherwise - you would have planted the seed in your manager’s mind and made your expectations known. This ensures you will stay top of mind for any promotion or pay raises when the opportunity arises or when the time is right. 

curious about the latest employment trends impacting Hong Kong? Download the 2019 Hong Kong Market Outlook & Salary Snapshot.