3 biggest mistakes that stop you from getting promoted

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The promotion process can be confusing, frustrated, and feel like a loosing battle. Especially if you have a bad boss. But there are 3 big mistakes holding you back that have nothing to do with your manager. Listen in this week as we dive into what they are so you can avoid these pitfalls. Listen and learn. Additional free resources:

If you want to get promoted in the next year, listen up! The promotion process sucks. You feel stuck because you have a bad boss, are not sure what to do, and the entire process feels like a project you don’t have time for.


I’m hosting a free workshop where you will learn how to get promoted when you have a bad boss. You’ll learn what steps to take, the right order to take them in, and how to deal with that terrible leader. Space is limited, so grab a spot now!


It’s happening on April 26th at 9:30 Pacific. A replay will be available, but only if you sign up. Ready to make this the year you get promoted? Go to lindsylymancoaching.com/promoted or click the link below.


This is your year!


Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman. I worked almost 12 years at Amazon and saw so many brilliant and successful overachievers burn themselves out and leave their jobs because they’re so stressed and anxious. But guess what? Having a successful career does not have to be at the expense of your mental sanity and personal time. There’s an easier way, and I can show you how. Let’s do this!


When you think about getting promoted at your company, what comes to mind? I’ll be honest, for me, it’s a lot of dread, a few eye rolls, and feeling like it’s this big, heavy, impossible battle I’m about to embark on.


It’s no secret: the promotion process at Amazon is very intense and rigorous. It’s not easy to get promoted, no matter what company you’re working at. There are certain rules that they may not even tell you about as an employee.


I love how often there’s a part of the process where people are going to go in a room and they’re going to talk about it, but they’re not going to tell you what they talked about. They might give you very high-level feedback, maybe, but maybe not. It’s like we’re trying to win this game totally blindfolded.


Or sometimes, there are unspoken rules of the promotion process that not only change team to team but even leader to leader. Unspoken rules might be things like a leader believing you need to deliver on the team you’re on right now for a certain time period before they’re going to put you up for promotion, even if you rotate into that team from the same company with a recommendation to be promoted in a promotion document. These are like these unspoken rules.


Some companies, they don’t have a process at all. It simply comes down to when your boss feels that you’re ready.


Oh man, you guys, trying to get promoted sucks. It’s hard, it’s confusing, it’s frustrating, it’s overwhelming. I get it. But I want to tell you what the three biggest mistakes are if you’re trying to get promoted. I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with these three things, some of which I have struggled with myself.


Mistake number one is waiting too long to start the process. Here’s what happens when the process feels so overwhelming and out of your control: of course, you’re going to push it off. Your brain tells you things like, “Well, once we launch this product, then I’ll go and talk to my manager about a promotion,” or “I’m going to wait until I’ve been on the team a bit longer and then have the conversation with my manager.” This is your brain just being scared and afraid and saying, “Let’s wait till it feels safer and then go do this big, scary thing.”


Or this is one I see unfortunately all the time with people that have a terrible manager: the belief is, “My manager is so bad, there’s no way they’re going to promote me. I have to wait until we reorg, I get a new manager, or I get a new job. It’s just not going to happen with this manager.” No, you guys, that is not the case.


Or this is another excuse I hear a lot as well when talking with people who want to get promoted but aren’t actually doing anything about it. It’s some flavor of, “I’m just so busy, I don’t have time to focus on it right now.” But here’s the problem: there’s never a good time. And then what happens is you start to notice other people getting promoted, and you get resentful because you’re not, and you start to notice you can do the work your manager is doing, and sometimes you can even do it better, and you get more annoyed or you get bored and restless. And when that happens because you’re not growing, you’re not getting challenged, you’ve already maxed out at the position you’re in, you stop trying and you just kind of go numb and on autopilot and start to question all of it.


Or you finally go and push for your promotion when you’re at that ultimatum stage of like, “If you don’t promote me, then I’m out. Then I’m leaving.” And it’s so intense and so much frustration and resentment behind it, it just doesn’t go well. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. I’ve even been in this stage myself a few times.


When I was hired at Amazon, I was brought in as a level five. For context, they would hire people that had just graduated with an MBA as a level six. So I kind of think of a level five as like, you’re the most senior in the junior level, if that makes sense. So I was hired in at a five, and knowing what I know now, I would have pushed to be hired in as a level six, but you know, hindsight. So I was up for promotion to get to a level six, and it was being reviewed by the larger org, and there was a lot of pushback that they didn’t think I was ready. And I was so pissed because I knew that promotion should have happened more than a year ago, but I waited a long time to start talking to my manager about it and start doing the work and start pushing for it. And when I was so angry and resentful and frustrated, it was hard for me to give my manager better concrete examples and data because I was just so caught up in the drama. I was so mad. It was hard for me to keep my self-confidence intact and just be confused and try to find a way to communicate my experience better because I was so angry and I was at this entitlement phase instead of acting like a leader in an L6 position.


Mistake number one is waiting too long to start the process. At a minimum, I recommend if you want to get promoted, you start working on it at least 12 months before you want it to happen. That’s at minimum. Eighteen months is even better, which leads me into mistake number two, which is doing things in the wrong order. I kind of think of this a little bit like math. You know, in math, there’s the order of operations, and the order you try to solve the math problem in impacts the answer. It’s the same thing with your promotion. There are a lot of things to do, but I believe the order really matters, especially if you are one of those people that has a bad boss. If your boss doesn’t think you’re ready to get promoted and you just go in there and flub your way through the conversation and try to start that process, most likely they’re going to shut it down, and you will feel like it’s a dead end. But if you follow the right order of operations and your boss still is your boss—we can’t control them—and they still think you’re not ready, but you follow the right steps in the right order and you come with a promotion development plan, you come with a talking script, you practice what you’re going to say, you get feedback, what happens is you’re now leading the conversation and looking for your manager’s feedback, and it’s much harder for them to shut it down. So now, as you talk to your manager about it, it’s not a dead end. There’s still things you’ve got to figure out, totally, but it hasn’t just been shut down. The order in which you do things is very important.


Here’s another example: maybe your company, they only do promotions twice a year. If you’re like, “I’m not quite ready. I want to wait until the second promotion cycle, so in 12 months from now, before I go and raise my hand and go all in on trying to get promoted,” it logically sounds safer and makes sense. But the experience I had personally with myself, with my team, that I’ve seen a lot of my clients go through in these larger companies, often the first time you try to go up for promotion, it doesn’t happen. So if you’re already waiting a year before you raise your hand and try to get promoted, you’re now 18 months out. But if you follow the process in the right order and you purposely go for that promotion in six months, assuming it’s going to be a no, what’s going to happen is you’re going to get much more specific, helpful, concrete feedback on why it’s a no, and use those next six months to close those gaps. So now you’re still hitting your goal of getting promoted in a year. We don’t have to wait 18 months. The order in which you’re doing things matters. Okay, that brings me to mistake number three. This is a big one.


Mistake number three is relying on your confidence to carry you through this process. But here’s the thing: confidence is based on things you’ve done in the past. So I hope as you’re going and working towards this promotion, you feel confident this is the right thing to do, that you have delivered results, you have driven impact, you have the right amount of scope, you’ve delivered independently, that this promotion should go through the process. But guess what? This process you’re going to go through and trying to get to that next position, you haven’t done before. It’s not going to go according to plan. If you are only able to lean on your confidence of how you’ve delivered in the past, you will struggle. You’ve got to learn to have the self-confidence to go and do something new. Remember, I define self-confidence as a belief in your ability to figure it out. This is so important because people are going to say no to your promotion. They are going to push back. And for many of you, that may be your manager directly. If you don’t have the self-confidence and aren’t taking the right steps in the right order, it will be a dead end. But if you know how to have the self-confidence and what to do and what order to do it in, now so much more of it is within your control. When you have the self-confidence to navigate your way through this, if your manager rotates halfway through, it doesn’t reset the clock, and you don’t have to start over. If you change teams or your job changes or your company reorgs through this process, it doesn’t have to reset the clock. When you believe in your ability to figure it out and you have that self-confidence, it also helps the first time you get a no, not to just spin you out and make you angry and resentful and feel stuck and frustrated and annoyed, but it allows you to learn from it, hear what they’re saying, make changes, and make it an easy, no-brainer yes next time you go for the promotion.


When you’re going after your promotion with self-confidence, no matter what changes in the process happen as you’re going, no matter what rules of the game they change, you’re not going to freak out and question it all. You’re going to figure it out. So if you want to get promoted in the next year or year and a half, listen up! I’m teaching a free workshop on April 26th. I’m going to give you the three steps to get promoted specifically when you have a bad boss. I’m going to walk you through the step-by-step process that is proven to work for myself, my past employees, and hundreds of my clients. I’m going to teach you when to take each step and why it’s important to take them in that order, and we’re going to talk about how to be more self-confident through it so your terrible manager doesn’t stop you from getting the promotion.


So if you want to get promoted, click the link in the show notes and grab a spot for this free workshop. Spaces are limited. There will be a replay available, but you have to sign up to get the replay.


You may think your manager has about 80% of the control over whether you get promoted or not. But with this process I’m going to teach you, you will learn how to have 100% control over your promotion.


Alright, y’all, you’re amazing. You got this. We’ll talk soon.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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