Monday 15 February 2016 1:27 am

Debrett’s Ask the Expert: I’ve been passed over for a promotion: Should I move jobs?

Tom Welsh is City A.M.'s business features editor.

Tom Welsh is City A.M.'s business features editor.

Follow Tom Welsh

I’ve been in my role for several years and, while I like my job and have received good feedback, I have yet to be promoted to a manager role. What can I do to show my bosses I’m ready? Or should I just look for a new job?

Being passed over for promotion can be demoralising, but before you allow it to dent your confidence, it’s worth considering the root cause. It may simply be that your managers are not aware of your ambitions, or that you are performing your current job so well that they are keen to keep you in the same role.

However, another possibility is that you are not displaying the qualities typically associated with a manager, such as authority, personal impact and gravitas. Addressing this can be complex, and it may be worth undertaking professional training to hone your impact at work.

If that’s not an option, there are certain considerations to bear in mind. Ask yourself how your colleagues view you – do they think of you as a “yes” person, always prepared to take on work outside of your remit? Are you the first to make a round of tea, or to answer the phone when it rings? Do you delegate or are you delegated to? Where appropriate, ask for honest feedback from a colleague you trust.

In working towards achieving managerial status, you may also need to forget about fitting in and being liked by your teammates. Consider whether it is appropriate for a manager to be present at work drinks at the pub every evening, discussing their latest Tinder date at work, or complaining loudly about a difficult client. While it is important to maintain positive working relationships, remember that, as a manager, you will need to prioritise performance over popularity.

Equally, don’t be afraid to delegate. Before you jump up to fix the photocopier, consider whether it’s the best use of your time. If not, ask someone else to do it. Effective managers are able to motivate and persuade others to perform even the most tedious tasks.

Be aware of your allies: if you are more likely to socialise and interact with junior members of staff, you may be thought of as one yourself. Don’t be afraid to build rapport with senior colleagues – mastering the art of small talk is a key networking skill and can also be a way of promoting your abilities and experience to decision makers.

Your personal image and presentation also play a role – while it’s a cliché that you should dress for the job you want and not the one you have, appropriate dress and appearance will support your authority and give clients and colleagues confidence in your professionalism and competence. Even if your office operates an informal dress code, you may notice that senior members of staff opt for formal attire over jeans and t-shirts.

Finally, open communication with your managers is essential. Ask for a meeting and let them know that you feel ready to progress to the next level in your career. Be prepared to outline your achievements and ensure that you have adequate information to back up your argument, including performance indicators such as sales or conversion rates. Even if they don’t offer you a promotion immediately, they will at least be aware of your goal the next time an opportunity arises. If they still fail to promote you, it may be time to look for a new job.

For the chance to have your question answered by the Office Politics Expert, please email

For information on Debrett’s business coaching courses for both recent graduates and high-flying executives, visit