Now Reading
Getting Promoted Can Be All Consuming, But Should It Be?

Getting Promoted Can Be All Consuming, But Should It Be?

Are you in line yet for that big promotion at work? How long have you been waiting? Does a job title upgrade feel long overdue?

Climbing the proverbial corporate ladder is something often encouraged, revered, and praised. Landing that next promotion can be a driving force in your career that provides your career with intention and focus.

The phrase, “I’m getting promoted,” generally has positive connotations. It often means you get a chance to develop some new skills, have a little more authority, work on more exciting projects, maybe manage a larger team, take on more responsibility, have a more impressive title, and get a nice bump in salary & benefits. Also, promotions can boost your professional value in the eyes of others. After all, your job title often signals your level of seniority, accomplishment, and credibility in your industry.

Wanting to get promoted is perfectly normal and often expected of you at any large organization. However, pursuing a promotion can teeter between a healthy ambition and a draining obsession.

Getting Promoted Has Significant Benefits

I have my fair share of chasing promotions. After I finished my MBA, I began my first brand management role at Clorox, a reputable, competitive company known for its leading consumer brands.

One of the main reasons I decided to work as a marketer there wasn’t necessarily because I wanted to market trash bags or drain openers, the first two products I managed, but because I wanted to establish some credibility for myself as a marketer. When you’re working as a marketer at a leading consumer packaged goods company where the training is rigorous, your colleagues are top-notch, and the standards are high, getting promoted is a sign of true success.

One key milestone many of us were working toward was to get promoted to a more senior brand manager role. Rapid promotion signaled good performance. Good performance built more credibility. And more credibility meant more responsibility. All of this, in turn, drove your long-term potential and job security in the company while making you exponentially more employable in the broader marketing industry.

Promotions Can Become All-Consuming

At your workplace, you might notice that much of the water-cooler talk seems focused on who’s in line for the next promotion, who sits where in the organizational chart, or how close you might be yourself to upgrading your job title to one that shines a little more brightly on your business card or LinkedIn profile.

Additionally, you may work, as I once did, at an organization with an “up or out” culture where promotion was almost a requirement to remain at the company. Where employees who weren’t promotable were told their futures in the organization were bleak. Where remaining in the same role for too long signals career stagnation or lack of ambition.

This external focus on promotions can influence your focus on getting promoted. Even if you consider yourself as someone who doesn’t care about these sorts of things, you may start to feel pressure to progress. When others are plowing ahead, it’s only natural to feel pressure to keep up and not fall behind your peers.

Your Job Title Often Feels Like Your Identity

I’ll admit I used to be caught up in the pursuit of promotion. I felt a need to climb the corporate ladder without even stopping to think about why I wanted to get promoted. While embarrassing to admit now, part of my reasons for relentlessly chasing promotions was because everyone else seemed to be doing it.

Ironically, after I was told by our CMO that my promotion was only weeks away at Clorox, I ended up leaving right before it happened to make an international move. While it felt like the right thing to do personally, leaving that promotion behind also felt like a huge professional sacrifice. In many ways, I felt like all my efforts at that company were wasted. At best, I felt like I threw in the towel too early. At worst, I felt a bit like a failure.

Eventually, though, I got hired into my next role, which was a promotion. Then, I got promoted again a couple of years later. In the end, that pre-promotion departure didn’t adversely affect my professional prospects as much as I’d originally assumed.

Promotions Aren’t The Only Measure of Success

The longer I worked in the corporate world, the more I saw how promotions involved nuanced, complex dynamics that didn’t always relate to one’s actual professional performance. Sometimes, people got promoted who were less capable than others. Sometimes, people in more senior roles were less technically adept than others. At other times, people with a more senior job title at one organization had less impressive track records than others with more junior job titles at other organizations.

About a decade into my marketing career, I reached a point where I just felt like getting promoted no longer mattered to me. It soon became clear that promotions didn’t always correlate with one’s actual expertise, capability, or knowledge. Pursuing that next title started to feel a bit like a game with ever-changing rules I no longer felt compelled to play.

At some point, I realized I didn’t want my manager’s role. And I also realized I definitely didn’t want my manager’s manager’s role. Most importantly, it dawned on me that getting promoted just didn’t matter as much to me personally. Putting aside incremental increases in salary, the titles themselves stopped holding as much meaning.

The Value of A Promotion May Change

These days, I now work independently, so promotions are no longer relevant to my professional journey. As someone who regularly works with and speaks to professionals from junior to executive roles, I can very clearly see, in a way I couldn’t before, that one’s job title isn’t always directly related to one’s capability or confidence—and certainly not their compassion or character, which matter more to me than one’s seniority in an organization.

See Also

Chasing that next promotion can be such a presumed, driving force in your career that sometimes you can forget why it matters to you so much in the first place. You really must force yourself to periodically pause and ask yourself why getting that next promotion is so important to you, and if it’s still so important to you now.

Ask Yourself Why Getting Promoted Matters

Maybe earning a higher income will enable you to do something you can’t do right now. Maybe getting promoted will open the opportunity to manage projects you find more professionally satisfying. Or maybe, that new role will introduce new challenges that enable you to develop a broader skill set or feel more engaged in your work. There are plenty of perfectly fine reasons for wanting the next rung.

However, if getting promoted won’t make you holistically happier or if it doesn’t serve one of your key priorities, perhaps it’s worth reconsidering whether to focus on it as much as you have been. It doesn’t mean giving up on progressing in your career, which is of course important. But it may enable you to free yourself a bit from the idea that the main measure of your career success is tied to your job title. And once you do that, other ways of driving career fulfillment may open up for you.




Scroll To Top

We have detected that you are using AdBlock Plus or other adblocking software which is causing you to not be able to view 360 Mozambique in its entirety.

Please add to your adblocker’s whitelist or disable it by refreshing afterwards so you can view the site.