6 Reasons Why Some People Never Get Promoted

6 Reasons Why Some People Never Get Promoted
Last Updated: June 16, 2023

Being promoted is the ultimate goal for every individual who is formally employed depending on their career goals. Look around and compare yourself to your peers. Are you moving as fast as possible in terms of career progression? How smooth is your path to promotion on your career ladder when compared to your peers within your current company? Others are probably doing extremely well when compared to their peers while others are struggling in their current position. When an employer promotes an employee they are taking a gamble on your capacity to deliver in a higher-level role.


Research shows that a large percentage of people who get promoted fail to deliver as observed during performance reviews. The reasons vary due to several factors such as lack of leadership skills even though the individuals have great leadership potential, hard skills, and soft skills required. The major concern though for ordinary employees is to get promoted should a leadership position or any opportunity within their career mission arise in the organization. While some people blame organizational policies for the lack of job promotion opportunities, the major reasons why some people never get promoted or get considered during promotion decisions can be traced to certain traits and behaviors of individuals i.e. the qualities of people.


1. Not being self-starters


Not being self-starters


Some people will never be promoted because they are not self-starters or proactive. Managers tend to recognize productive people who use their initiatives to run with delegated tasks than those that wait to be pushed. People who observe things that need to be corrected but ignore them fall into this category. They are quick to point out “ it’s not my job” when asked to assist others with some outstanding work, not on their job description. They will slow their pace if they feel they are going to be called to assist others if they finish early. These are not productive people as they do not care whether or not they are viewed as incompetent when they behave in such a manner. 


2. Laziness



Some people will never be promoted because they are lazy. When work is allocated to them they do it grudgingly. Especially when they are allocated work that is not in their job description. They take too much time than normal to complete tasks. They do not pay attention to quality. These are things managers notice and record at the back of their minds although they may not take immediate action. They fail to demonstrate their strategic thinking or problem-solving skills due to laziness.


3. Self-centeredness

Some people will never get promoted because they do not work well together with others. These are negative people. They are too self-centered and sometimes disruptive to the team. They mobilize other staff members to oppose or disobey the managers’ instructions. These people cannot often take constructive feedback and criticism. This hinders them from climbing the corporate ladder to achieve their leadership vision to attain a leadership role moreover elite leadership roles i.e. quick promotions or management level promotion.


4. Being stingy with information

Being stingy with information is another reason why some people will never be promoted. People who are stingy with information tend to be individualistic and often hide saying it is their human nature to behave like that. They hide important work information from colleagues thereby hindering their effectiveness and career success. Some do this as they are afraid that the job market is saturated, therefore, if they share the information they have they might end up losing their job to others. This leaves the majority of them with stunted career growth and no career path change. 


5. Not going beyond the call of duty

Not going beyond the call of duty


Another category of people who fail to make the promotion grade are people who do not go beyond the call of duty. They rush to go home after normal working hours even if there is pressing work to be completed. Such people come into the office late and leave very early. They complain a lot about the work allocated to them. They overplay their rights as an employee just to show the manager that they are knowledgeable about such rights. They try to influence everyone and constantly highlight the unfairness of the manager or the organizational system. If they are extremes they even go to the extent of embarrassing the manager in front of other subordinates who are positive people.


6. Lack of capacity for higher roles

You may not get promoted because you are too good where you are but you have no capacity for higher roles. Remember promotion while considering performance in the current role it's more about the potential for higher-level roles. For example, a very good artisan may not be promoted into a Foreman role simply because they are too good where they are but also they may not have the skills set required for a higher-level role. Taking the same example of an artisan to a Foreman, you will notice that the supervisor requires a different skillset from the one at the artisan level. The supervisor needs people management and supervisory management skills. To a layman, such a practice of leaving the best employees where they are may be perceived as unfair. However, to those who understand how work is done, it’s easy to see the connection and its importance.


The reasons given above are not exhaustive but they give a holistic view of why some individuals have a successful career over their peers. There are many other reasons why some people even get to retirement age without being promoted. Organizational systems contribute to this predicament as well. As noted above the majority of the reasons can be traced to the individual employee. What this points to is that employees can take corrective action to enhance their chances of being promoted. 


Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or cell number +263 77 2356 361 or email: mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

Memory Nguwi
Super User
This article was written by Memory a Super User at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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