Promised promotions can be missed for a variety of reasons, ranging from corporate restructuring to personal bias. In any case, sending a polite, specific, and neutral reminder can be a good way to accelerate or restart the process of being promoted. Even if the reminder itself doesn’t work, it can serve as a good paper trail.
Here’s what you need to know about politely reminding your boss about a promise of promotion.
Why a promotion might be delayed
There are a multitude of reasons why a promised promotion might be delayed or skipped over, both innocently and intentionally.
Issues with company infrastructure
It may be that your company is facing general restructuring issues, such as a wave of exiting employees or new recruits all happening at the same time, requiring more resources than they initially expected, meaning that the position to which you had been promoted might not yet be available.
Additionally, there may be a slight delay higher up, such as a delay in the transition of the current role holder to another position or out of the company, or a change in command higher up the chain that would make a promotion transition period awkward or unproductive for a short time.
If this is the case, you’ll usually be informed about the delay ahead of time and told when you can expect an update. However, it is still possible for information to be missed during these hectic periods, so a polite reminder might be helpful to help keep things on track.
At the end of the day, we’re all human and we all make mistakes. Your boss is no different; if they’ve promised you a promotion but have made no moves to make good on that promise, they may simply have forgotten or allowed it to slip through the cracks.
If this is the case, then a gentle reminder can serve as a great way to further prove your diligence and appropriateness for a larger role.
Though unfortunate, it does sometimes happen that you run across a bad-faith actor who makes promises that they have no intention of keeping. In these instances, promotions may be promised as a method for keeping you dedicated to and productive on the job without having to really commit further resources.
If this is the case, then polite reminders become incredibly important, as they can serve as a paper trail of evidence should you need to push the issue with HR or an executive further up the line.
How to politely remind your boss about a promise of promotion
You can remind your boss about your promotion in person or via messaging or email. Either way, you’ll want to approach the situation with a plan in mind.
Handling a reminder for a promotion can feel awkward, but there are a few points to remember to keep things productive and professional for everyone involved.
Remind your boss what role you were promoted to, when this promise was made, and why you were promoted in the first place.
If you happen to have documentation of this promise – such as an email or other written communication from your boss – you may choose to include a copy of that in your reminder.
Though delays in promotions can be frustrating, it’s important to remain calm when reminding your boss about them. Getting overly excited or upset can seem unprofessional and may cause them to reconsider the offer.
This doesn’t mean that you should be passive, though. Simply use calm, professional language without excuses or accusations.
- Don’t say: I was expecting this promotion as of [date]. Why haven’t you promoted me yet?
- Say: We discussed a promotion on [date]. Could you update me about this?
You’ve already shown that you’re capable and worth promoting once; now you just need to remind your boss of this. You may choose to briefly review the points that led up to your promotion.
Indicate next steps
Importantly, your reminder should include a call to some kind of action. Invite your boss to answer a question, offer a specific date, or meet with you directly to discuss the promotion.
You might include phrasing such as:
- I am available to meet during these times. Please let me know when you would like to discuss this further.
- I look forward to your response with details of when I can expect this promotion to progress.
- Do you have any further updates for me regarding this promotion?
Sample reminder about promise of promotion
Here is a sample email template that you can adjust to use for your reminder.
Subject: Re: Promotion Promised [date of promise]
This is a kind reminder of our conversation regarding my promotion to [position title] which we had on [date]. Please find attached the record of this conversation for your convenience.
Do you have any updates for me in regard to this promotion?
I reiterate that I am grateful for this opportunity to advance into a position which will make better use of my potential and capabilities. Please let me know if you require further information to move the process along.
If you are still getting no information after a reminder (or multiple), then it may be time to seek additional help. Consider contacting your HR representative if you feel there has been significant or unexplained delays or lacks in communication.
If you choose to contact HR, do so discretely in a one-on-one meeting or private business email. Bring all documentation regarding the promotion with you (or include it in your email communications) and discuss what can be done privately. From there, the HR representative can decide how to involve your boss and whether or not higher authorities should become involved.
Promotions are excellent opportunities that should be met with excitement, not frustration. If you find yourself having to remind your boss about your promotion, try not to feel disheartened. Instead, see it as an opportunity to improve your position before you ever move up.