HomeInspireLife

How to get a promotion at work with three simple questions

BY Laura Ashley-Timms

2nd Jan 2024 Life

3 min read

How to get a promotion at work with three simple questions
Looking to finally get that promotion you've been waiting for? Co-author of new management bestseller The Answer is a Question, Laura Ashley-Timms, shares three questions to ask to get promoted
If you’re feeling ready for the next step in your career, chances are you’ve already thought about bringing it up with your boss. But the "promotion conversation" can be nerve-wracking and tricky to navigate.
"Real career progression rarely happens by waiting for a promotion to fall into your lap"
Many of us find it difficult to talk about our successes, much less ask to be promoted, for fear of being perceived as arrogant or demanding. Yet real career progression and success rarely happen by waiting for a promotion to fall into your lap. Being proactive and approaching the topic with your boss showcases your desire to develop professionally. Your boss will likely see this as a keenness to climb the ladder and add value to your workplace—which benefits you both!
The best way to have this conversation with your manager, without risking miscommunication, is by asking more powerful questions. Honing the skill of crafting questions that invite genuine reflection allows you to highlight how a promotion would benefit you, your boss and the company.

Three questions to ask your boss to get promoted

What would a good relationship between us look like for you?
To open doors for career development opportunities, nurturing a strong working relationship with your manager is a must. But not every boss-employee relationship is the same, and finding the best dynamic that aligns with their style of leadership and your way of working is key to creating a foundation of honesty and trust between each other. 
"Nurturing a strong working relationship with your manager is a must"
Ask your boss how they envision a good relationship between you. This could bring to light some areas for improvement from both sides and help you to understand further what would be expected of you at work, to be considered for a promotion. Choosing to be good at your job, and demonstrating a willingness to nurture stronger relationships at work, is a sure fire way to accelerate your progression.
What work is sitting on your desk you can begin giving me?
You’ve probably got a promotion on your mind not just for the pay rise but also because you want to be pushed and challenged more in your role. Have you ever thought about the more technical tasks your manager has on their daily to do list which you might begin taking responsibility for instead?
Employee asking their boss questions
Proactively putting yourself forward to take on some of these tasks offers you a great opportunity to enhance your skills and demonstrate your capability for successfully completing promotion-worthy work. It will also free up your manager’s time so they can focus more on the higher-level aspects of their job—like supporting your development!
What steps do you need to see me take to get promoted?
Sometimes, the best approach is to be bold and straight to the point. By this, I don’t mean asking your boss, “Why haven’t I been promoted?” That’s because why-based questions feel more personal, as if you’re questioning your manager’s judgement and decisions. This will likely cause them to become defensive rather than being open to help. 
Reframe this bold question by ditching the "why" and using "what" instead: “What steps do you need to see me take so that I might be promoted?” This sets a more positive, forward-thinking tone to the conversation, paving the way for more collaboration and openness with your boss.
"Sometimes, the best approach is to be bold and straight to the point"
With the personal implication removed, you’ll be able to explore your current responsibilities with your manager in a more productive way, drawing on examples from your work to highlight where you’re excelling and where you could improve.
Asking this question can also help you to create an action plan together for the year ahead, outlining key steps for you to take to put you on the path to promotion.
Advancing our communication skills is imperative to career success. Learning to ask more powerful, insightful questions will draw people towards you—it will allow you to form stronger relationships at work, and others will be more invested in helping you achieve your career goals.
The Answer is a Question
Laura Ashley-Timms is the COO of performance consultancy Notion, co-create of the multi-award-winning STAR® Manager online development programme and co-author of new management bestseller The Answer is a Question
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...