Is Your Job Promotion on Hold? Here’s How to Manage

Having a job promotion be put on hold can be a stressful outcome. Here’s what you can do in that situation.

The pandemic has given rise to a period of uncertainty. Companies are tightening their belts through a range of measures like postponing business plans and pausing hiring. Although working remotely brings benefits like flexibility, the drawbacks can stall career advancement plans.

Asking for a job promotion during a time of economic uncertainty can be difficult to do, especially if you’re due for one. With plans to make flexible work a reality, career development goals could be affected in the long run.

However, career progression plans must go on despite the pandemic’s lasting impacts. Having a promotion put on hold can be unsettling, but knowing how to manage it tactfully can help you chart your long-term goals.

1. Re-evaluate your expectations

Despite being well-positioned to receive a promotion, it’s worth noting that the pandemic and its consequences impact not only you but the entire organisation. When a planned job promotion is put on hold, take the time to reassess your expectations around your career advancement goals.

As we focus on protecting the livelihoods of our people, we are keeping salaries at their current levels for now,” remarks UOB Head of Human Resources, Dean Tong. During such challenging times, organisations like the UOB may have to adapt their strategic priorities, hiring only when necessary or freezing variable pay.

Spend some time reflecting on the conversation you had with your manager. Is the organisation revising its policies on hiring and promoting? Does your manager put forth valid reasons for this pause? Will you be able to discuss this again when the time is right?

After gaining a better picture of the circumstances, you’ll be able to reason out your promotion being put on hold.

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2. Plan for a follow-up conversation

Even if a promotion is postponed, scheduling a follow-up meeting can prevent feeling like you’re in limbo. It gives you something to work towards and allows for meaningful conversation around your career progression in a tactful manner.

Global circumstances are ever-changing during this time. It can be useful to prepare for your follow-up conversation by focusing on questions you have around progression or planning smaller milestones that lead up to a promotion. You can do this by:

  • Taking the lead on a new project
  • Identify short and long-term goals
  • Update your manager with progress reports
  • Develop transferable skills

It is also a ripe opportunity to think about redesigning your role. When the pandemic subsides, organisational structures and jobs may undergo shifts in scope. Increased remote work gives rise to flatter hierarchy structures where there are fewer layers of approvals in between, while collaborative tasks make rewarding individual contributors harder.

The promotion you’re vying for may be further from reach, but it’s not off the table. An assessment and adaptation of work strategies may be necessary to discuss in your follow-up call for better chances.

3. Work on improving your visibility

From zero-cost commutes to eating lunch at any time of the day, the flexibility afforded by work-from-home has its benefits. However, the remote nature of this work model can affect the visibility you have with colleagues and the job.

According to Harvard Business Review, professionals who put in the groundwork to stay connected with their seniors were 82% more likely to get promoted than their counterparts. Here’s how you can improve visibility with your manager while working remotely:

  • Provide a biweekly update on the projects you’re working on
  • Offer your assistance so that they can see what it’s like to work with you
  • Request for feedback so that you can improve on your weaknesses

By making it easier for your manager to have an overview of your progress, having that conversation on your promotion becomes less challenging.

4. Continue developing professionally

Especially during a pandemic, professionals are more careful not to ask for too much or at the wrong time. How you react to a job promotion on hold can speak volumes of your professionalism.

Learning something new might be the last thing on your mind after being told that the job promotion you’ve worked hard for will not be offered any time soon. That said, neglecting your long-term career progression goals in lieu of promotion can come across short-sighted.

What happens today may not necessarily hold true for tomorrow. Take courage in the process and continue working on your skills. Your ability to kickstart bigger projects earlier is the best way to demonstrate your readiness for the promotion.

Navigating discussions around a job promotion can already prove challenging. It’s normal that opportunities for career advancement may have slowed down. But, laying the groundwork early and properly allows professionals to steadily put their goals for promotion back on track.

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