Over the past two decades, I have mentored hundreds, if not thousands of young professionals and often get the same question, “Why am I not getting a raise or promotion at work?” And I usually tell them that simply showing up and doing no more than what is expected is the main reason why they are not being promoted. If you want to move up in your career and professional life, giving an average performance will never result in accolades and high praise. Only those that give outstanding performances at work will get the desired rewards and recognition. Coming from my position as an employer and a client to a vendor, if you have to ask for a promotion or more money from me, that means I think you are doing a good or average job, not AMAZING. I don’t need reminders to acknowledge or recognize someone when I observe the value that they are contributing to my business and clients.
What do I mean by outstanding performances? Years ago, I hired a college intern and told her that since she had never worked before, it would be a non-paid internship, and she would be on a probation period for 90 days. After 90 days, I would re-evaluate the situation based on her performance and decide whether to keep her on or let her go. Can you take a guess what happened? Within 30 days, I was so impressed with her strong work ethic, professional attitude and eagerness to learn, and how receptive she was to constructive feedback that I offered her a part-time position and paid her the same amount as I would someone who already had years of work experience.
Here are a few of the many reasons why I did that:
- Proactive Honesty – She shared ideas and suggestions, and was not afraid to speak up if something was bothering her instead of waiting for me to ask.
- Punctuality – Even though she was not getting paid for the internship, she showed up at work every time, usually early or right on time, and she always stayed later than expected to learn and prepare herself for the next time she came in to work. (Reminded me of myself when I was younger.)
- Polished and Professional Attitude – Her manners and communication style were formal and polished. I never worried about her making me look bad when communicating with clients in person or virtually.
- Integrity – She was a very reliable and ethical employee. For someone young, she kept her word once she gave it.
- Strong Work Ethic – She worked hard to solve problems and get things done and never once showed any sense of entitlement.
- Attention to Details – She was fast but efficient, and I rarely had to correct mistakes.
- Coaching and Feedback – She appreciated constructive feedback and was open to opportunities for growth and further learning to improve her skills.
- Grounded Energy – She was grounded, unemotional, and sure of herself. This made it a great fit working for me given that I am a passionate, expressive, creative and emotional entrepreneur with a thousand ideas every day. So she balanced me.
- Good Listener – Not only was she present at all times, but she was a good listener, and I rarely had to remind her on anything or repeat myself when giving a project for her to work on.
- Success-Driven – She was competitive, smart, and results-oriented. While others at work would spend time chit chatting with each other during breaks, she on the other hand would be reading something new and interesting to develop her skills further, or would be catching up on current events to keep up to date. Also, if I suggested a book or introduced something new, she embraced it with excitement and took initiative to explore more.
- Accountability – She took ownership of her job and responsibilities and had no problem saying sorry or admitting when she was wrong about something.
There are so many other reasons why I promoted this young intern, but the most important reason for me was that she always had an attitude of gratitude. I loved that she said “thank you,” instead of thanks, and always used the word “please.” Even when working under tight deadlines that were stressful, not once did I hear a complaint about the long hours. I remember complimenting her often and she would share with me about how her parents raised her. And it made a lot of sense. I got my very first job at the Fairfax City Chamber of Commerce as an office clerk at age 14, and my parents advised me to respect my superior, be grateful that I had a job, and always give more than expected. Kudos to her parents for their similarly wise guidance.
So when I hire people to work for me, employee or subcontractors, I usually pay attention to the above in addition to their being service-oriented and problem-solvers with basic common sense. 🙂
I have very high expectations for myself to always do my best and move forward in my life. Working with others that think like me makes it so much easier.
Do you know people who have been in the same job and position in their company for a long time and wonder why they are not being promoted? Perhaps share this post with them. 🙂