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NgCareers: This Is Why You Keep Getting Passed Over For A Promotion



If you are goal oriented and a hard-working employee, you’d understand how devastating and annoying it is whenever you get passed over for a promotion.

You see, you work hard day in, day out with the mentality that all your efforts will pay off with additional responsibilities and of course, more money and then sadly, someone else; a less qualified person gets the much coveted promotion.

You begin to wonder if there’s anything that can be done; is better to leave the organization for a place where you might be better valued and appreciated?


Don’t be in a hurry to jump ship. There’s a slim possibility that you missed something. Here are four reasons why you might have been over looked for a promotion.

Lack of soft skills
Every job requires more than just the technical-know-how of your job description. You need more than what you learned at school during your university days. You need soft skills. Soft skills is a term often associated with a person’s Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) the cluster of emotional traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habit, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership etc that characterize relationship with other people.

Here are some soft skills you should know:

Team playing
Are you a team player or a solo actor? The ability to work with diverse people in mutual understanding is a skill that many employees have failed to master. Working well with people shows your manager that you’re capable and ready to handle the types of responsibilities that come with dealing with people. This will let your superiors know you are ready for that promotion.

Consensus building
This is also called ‘collaborative problem solving or collaboration’. It is essentially mediation of a conflict which involves many parties. Usually, the conflict also involves multiple, complex issues. Do you have a natural ability to influence others to make compromises and reach an agreement? If not, don’t sweat it because this skill can be learned. But like any other skill, you need constant practice to be good at it.

While this particular skill might come naturally to some people however, it is a soft skill, so it a skill that you can learn. Once you become more likeable, you’ll find that you’re more likely to receive that promotion.
If you are observant, you might have noticed that, on more than one occasion, someone who isn’t nearly as good as you are at the job gets the promotion ahead of you. Why is that? The odds are fairly good that it’s because that employee has superior soft skills or superior connection-I digress, sorry dears, that’s gist for another day.

Out of sight, out of mind
Does your manager know who you are? I mean really know who you are, not knowing that there’s ‘a tall dark guy with a beard’ that works in his unit. How often have you had an actual conversation with a high-level manager? How often have you presented something other than coffee in a meeting that included upper management?

The truth is that if you’re not visible, you will not be preferred when your superiors have to decide who to promote because they can’t even put a face behind the name. That’s because if they don’t know who you are, you certainly aren’t going to be high up on their list.

Here are some ways you can become more visible at your company:

Make presentations whenever possible
Maximize any opportunity you can possibly get to present something, especially in front of top management. But please try not to make a fool out of yourself; be prepared, do your homework well. Use the opportunity to show off your latest work, demonstrate your soft skills when you take questions, and maintain a presence in front of key decision makers. That will improve your odds of getting a promotion.

Always be there
According to Woody Allen, 80% of success is just about being there. If there’s a meeting that’s not exactly mandatory, be there anyway. Maintaining a presence in front of decision makers will put you on the fast track to a promotion.

You love to argue

If you are like me or rather the old me, it’s most likely that you would find no love from your boss or superiors when it’s time for a promotion. A chronic arguer has a way of stepping on toes without knowing. In fact, if I am not mistaken, your boss probably views you as an annoying pest and thinks you should be let go or at most, be kept in the same position till you get frustrated.

Please note that while there’s nothing wrong with having disagreements, (some managers will consider outspoken and argumentative mannerism a prerequisite for promotion) however, if you’re viewed as an antagonist, you’re only hurting yourself.

So pick your battles carefully. You don’t need to voice every disagreement, sometimes silence is golden, no scratch that, most times silence is golden. And when you decide to speak, don’t always emit negative vibes. Start every argument with a healthy dose of positivity.

You’re not going the extra mile
Always put it at the back of your mind that a promotion means more responsibility. So tell me why you should be promoted when you are sticking to the same job description given to you when you joined the organization years ago? Why should your manager promote you if you don’t show any desire to accept additional responsibility right now?

How do you show your manager or boss that you are ready to take on more responsibility?

Volunteer – Whenever there’s a need for a volunteer, be the first to raise your hand. This shows management that you’re someone who’s dedicated to the business.
Be versatile – usually, job descriptions are very specific. However, if you want to be on the track for promotion, you’ll have to show that you are willing to work outside of your comfort zone.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Syda Productions 

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  1. FasholasLover

    September 18, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Be seen, be heard, market yourself. Just become indispensable. (No one really is indispensable right??) Ok, become the go to person.

    If you do all of the above but, your Oga prefers bushmeat, dry fish, yam, plantain that you “conveniently” remembered to buy on your way back from the village, collecting children from school, going to the market and telling on your colleagues aka gossiping. OYO is ur own.

  2. Des

    September 18, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Nice write-up, I thank God i came across this.

  3. Olu

    September 18, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    1. Do your very best
    2 Pray for favor with the people that matter

  4. Zadera

    September 18, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Thanks for the write-up.

  5. Tosin

    September 18, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    I usually try not to get promoted tho. Sometimes useful work and promotion work are different things and that’s a’ight.

  6. fab babe

    September 18, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    How do u handle a female boss that is intimated by your personality and good fashion sense, no matter how hard u try to impress her and apply the stated principles she never sees it just because of envy! Seriously peeps am in that situation and getting frustrated… should I limit myself by looking like a mediocre???? Help!!! She’s even trying to eliminate my appointment by messing up my appraisal. I need advice pls

    • DD

      September 19, 2015 at 7:21 am

      Tough one. If there’s no chance of you being transferred or reassigned to work with a less jealous person for now, this is where the idea of ‘managing your boss’ comes in. Don’t start dressing drab or bend over backwards trying to impress her, because those strategies will likely not work. She may even see your attempts to impress as attempts to compete with her. Instead, try gradually starting to ‘admire’ her. Compliment her on one of her soft skills as a leader, be scrupulously polite to her, ask after her family, smile at her more than usual, and make her feel that you see her as a role model and mentor. Ask her for career advice as a more senior woman in your profession. Even tell her you like something that she has on. Don’t become a raging sycophant or boot-licker o, just make her feel that you look up to her as a leader and fellow professional woman. Try to be friendly with her and helpful to her in little ways – just little comments and questions here and there that make her feel that you respect and admire her. This will help her see you as less of a threat. And make sure your work is amazing – keep learning and enhancing your skills, keep evidence of tasks completed on time and without issues. That way, if she does try to mess up your appraisal, you have proof that your work has been consistently excellent. All the best.

    • FasholasLover

      September 19, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Excellent. I should like to add that once you begin to gain her confidence, ask if you can share some of your work with other supervisors and some who she reports to. That way, she is not the only one who knows you are doing/can do a good job. A good strategy is to make sure you have a few other influential supervisors in your corner. Finally, look for a very powerful mentor to watch over you – female or male.

    • Tosin

      September 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

      but you don’t look up to her nah. kai 😀 😀 see lies.

      honestly tho everybody kisses up sometimes but i’m more in the ‘no time’ camp. i mean, is this really how you see your life as a professional? are you her nanny?

      ok, in practical advice tho, if you know you’re actually good at your stuff, then make professional friends with the silly oga’s ogas and start cc’ing them (email her as your boss since many companies have the chain of command system where you have to go through your boss) on a weekly or monthly report of things that are of interest to betta human beings e.g. solutions, opportunities, bottom-line stuff.
      if you do that kind of kick-ass work and professional brief two or three times successfully, you’ll sort of cut her out and link up with serious human beings who can hook you up in future whether in or out of this organization.

      of course, if you want to babysit her poor self esteem too, you can do that a bit. compliment people a lot. tell her she’s great. her hair. her boobs. no, not her boobs. her clothes.

      ah yes, other practical advice. sometimes people are assholes because of very simple problems and maybe if you pay attention you can find out what it is and solve it for her. maybe she needs a date and you can set her up with your uncle. maybe she needs a spa treatment and you can give her a ticket. maybe she needs a nanny for the kids or a marriage counselor for the hubby. maybe she spends too long in traffic and you can get her an agent for a new place. she will suddenly stop being mean because she’s now happy!

      anyway, don’t kill yourself over another person’s matter.

    • Tosin

      September 19, 2015 at 11:24 am

      ask Serena

    • Tosin

      September 19, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      while i wait for the last comments to appear, thought to share an old story from back in the day.
      i was like 19 in let’s just say math camp. my roommate was a sweet Japanese girl who after some weeks hated me. she was conspicously ignoring me, childish stuff like walking straight in front of you to show they’re ignoring you, then i think making people give me the silent treatment too.
      so it eventually started to bug me. like i was stressed out about other things now add roommate strife to it.
      i phoned my ex, a frenemy at the time, because he was at a top tech school and therefore had more experience with asians. so my guy was like: ah, if she’s japanese they don’t speak their minds easily, they’re non-confrontational etc etc. and i think with his help i found out that baby girl was probably horny. she was far older than me, i guess i couldn’t tell lool, married, very happily and mushily married for many years, and had never been separated from her husband before.

      now instead of her husband who understood her, there she was sharing a room with a silly child that never cleaned up after herself (me.) to show you how clueless i’d been, all those weeks i thought we had cleaners, because i just assumed, because somebody had been magically cleaning the shower, emptying the dustbins etc. haha turns out she was the cleaner and silly me never noticed. so she had reason to hate me. and i was probably loud, being black, african, nigerian for that matter. actually i was pretty loud and obnoxious lol.

      bottomline, i asked a non-boarding student to lend me her empty room, then i asked my roommate about her darling husband, then i told her why not invite him over because i could move out to let him stay in our room… and you know that had been their issue, all this time she couldn’t leave the place to see him and i guess they couldn’t afford a hotel easily so he couldn’t come down to see her. VOILA! he drove up to see her from how many states away, they had their little mini-honeymoon, and she loved me after that.

      so, you know, i hope this helps.

    • A different angle.

      September 19, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      It’s great everyone is giving this advice but…what if all this jealousy exists only in your head? Has anyone actually thought about that?

      Research by Inc shows that many junior employees who think their bosses envy them are actually delusional *not my words but Inc’s*.

      Ask yourself, if you were a boss, would your focus not be on getting the attention of people in higher ranks at the office than a junior staff’s. The first red flag you raised was mentioning how she’s ‘jealous of your dressing’….that says a lot about your character 😉 #NuffSaid

    • word

      September 21, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      obviously u are ”bitter” because the fall in that category! my advice? step up your game. haba! before the lady mentioned that her female boss was jealous has it ever occured to ur petty brain why she concluded that??? fab babe is my colleague @ work, you have no idea what shes going through with the envious woman. so please take several seats.

  7. BNGeek

    September 18, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    All your points are right.good article!!
    Soft skills are very important.
    The way u deal with your colleagues, communicate ( emails, phone, face 2face), deal with problems, your anger, your stress, how express you values ( ur behaviour says it all).

  8. DD

    September 19, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Excellent article, very practical advice.

  9. fab babe

    September 19, 2015 at 8:33 am

    @ DD thanks so much for the advice. God bless you

  10. standingfirm

    September 19, 2015 at 8:40 am

    In Nigeria, another reason why you are not being promoted? Because you are not sucking up to the bosses and/or giving them what they really, really want – you.Terribly sad, yet true.

  11. miss rouge

    September 20, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    im a smart and hard working lady with generally poor social skills. i mostly love to keep to myself and avoid the spot light as much as i can. how has that worked out for me so far? my career is no where near where it should. lesson learnt! im going all out. il suck up, make friends with the bosses, play the game and all that. lets see how it goes…#evilgrin#

    • Tosin

      September 22, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      goood luck 😀

  12. pretty

    September 21, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    I see u fall into the class of such ‘envious’ bosses. So what u are saying is that such scenario doesn’t exist? Has it ever occurred to u that some bosses get jealous when u seem to drive better cars and Wear more expensive clothes and jewelries than them? Not even considering d fact that ur backgrounds are totally different. My dear face it! Most Nigerian female bosses hate when u out shine them….they’ll despise ur guts

  13. pretty

    September 21, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    @ a different angle…

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