Your Career: Best Time to Be Promoted?

The Promotion (The Office)
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The Wall Street Journal ran a story this week reporting that a study commissioned by LinkedIn concluded that most promotions (scene from The OfficeThe Promotion” to the right) occur in January of the year, with June and July the second most frequent months.

Why January? Credit it to younger workers – at least the study did. They said:

“Part of the shift has come from younger workers. According to the LinkedIn study, just 14% of promotions that occurred in January came from those born in the 1980s, compared to 22% coming from people born in the 1950s.

Employees born in the 1980s tend to be more aggressive in asking for raises and promotions than their older counterparts, said Clark University professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, author of “Emerging Adulthood.”

‘They speak up about what they want and don’t want to wait for a boss to notice they’re doing a good job,’ he said.”

Many firms have what’s called a focal point review – as in a one common review date for all employees. Not surprising (ease of administration, one common calendar), many firms use a January focal point date even if their fiscal year is not a calendar year.

January performance reviews though typically mean that a promotion has to be queued up 2-3 months before. Asking for a promotion at performance review might work in smaller firms, but not so well in larger firms simply because they are not equipped (the price of bureaucracy providing infrastructure) to do that. The other thing that frequently happens (hence the June/July bump) is that promotional reviews are done off cycle – e.g. 6 months after – performance and/or salary reviews.

And a promotion – something typically thought of as an upward change in title may or may not mean any salary or compensation structure change.

As mentioned earlier in “The Name Game: What Title Should You Ask For,” most people have their greatest leverage when they’re hired into firm. If you’re going to negotiate title (and pay), that’s the best time to do it. Second best time? When you’re a great performer, the firm acknowledges it, and there is no good Plan B to backfill your role if you leave.

The important item to focus on with pay and title is whether it is equitable within the firm, and equitable within the greater job market. If you short yourself on either, you’re shorting yourself likely for several future years to come.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.

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