What Do They Mean When They Say We Will Pay You But Won’t Promote You?

 Part 5 in the What Do They Mean When They Say Series

When the company is willing to pay you but not promote you, consider it handwriting on the wall. There was a time a decade or so ago this phrase would have been uttered to keep you out of the “old boys club”. I have a long time colleague who years ago found herself training men as they came into the department and after a while they would get promoted. Finally she went to the head of the department and pointed out their pattern but said to them, “I get it. But if you’re not going to promote me to VP even though I’ve trained all of the VPs here, then at least pay me like one.” Not wanting to belabor the point, they did just that. Eventually she did leave and started another career.

Today, there is a very high risk of companies being sued if that is the intent and it can be proven. So, when that line is handed out today, it is usually a sign that there are other issues, just not with the work.

This usually occurs when some major feathers have been ruffled in a major way or they don’t like your attitude or the way you operate. They don’t have grounds to fire you, but they can certainly keep you from going higher within the organization. It also suggests you have a damaged brand.

The issues most commonly fall in the category of leadership skills, management style, interpersonal interaction with leadership as well as with peers and colleagues.

"We'll Pay You, but Won't Promote You" A Difficult Situation to Navigate.

“We’ll Pay You, but Won’t Promote You” A Difficult Situation to Navigate.

This is a situation that is difficult to reverse unless there is a leadership change and you implement an aggressive strategy to change your image. As noted in a previous post, your image is more than how you look.

If you’ve been following this series, then you recognize these as aspects of not being politically savvy, not being a team player, and definitely not a good fit.

No, I’ve not experienced this personally, but have observed it two or three times over the course of my career. It was never pretty. What’s worse is that you can usually see this scenario coming. This is how it usually shows up.

You are good at what you do and have the track record to prove it, but..

• Was it you or the team that accomplished the goal?
• Is it you or the team that the client thinks highly of?
• If you manage a team, do the people on the team work for you or with you?
• Do you talk up to people or down to them?
• Do you give orders or make requests?
• Do you dictate what is to be done, or provide instruction and direction?
• Do things have to be done exactly like you say, or do you leave room for people to apply their own style and perspective?
• What is the tonality of your internal communication, especially e-mail?
• What is the tenor of your relationships with executive leadership?

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. So if you’ve been told they will pay you but won’t promote you, there are some things you need to weigh. If any of the points above are a part of your situation, then you have some changes to make. Because while leaving might be inevitable, the truth is you will take you with you wherever you go including into your own business. And you will find yourself in the same situation again.

Want to gain more insight into being politically savvy?  Sign up for the DebTalks™ 4 part webinar and teleclass series. Click here to learn more and register.

Until next time, believe and live forward,

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Deborah Gray-Young, CPC, ELI-MP
Personal and Executive Coach
Follow me on Twitter @coachdgrayyoung



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