Snagging a promotion can be rough.
As Littlefinger aptly put it in “Game of Thrones,” “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them.”
Keep that in mind the next time you’re thinking about climbing the ladder of success at work. You probably won’t end up losing your head quite like some of Littlefinger’s unfortunate colleagues, but heck, I don’t want to make assumptions – I don’t know anything about your company’s culture. Still, the process can be frustrating, competitive, and extremely political.
That being said, if you’re serious about pursuing a promotion at work, it’s important to keep your eye out for subtle signs that you’re being strongly considered.
Here are 12 indicators that you’re in the running for a promotion, even if it doesn’t feel like it:
You’re suddenly invited to meetings that you were previously excluded from
- Flickr/John Benson
Meetings can be kind of a drag. This might just feel like extra work, but it’s actually a good omen, especially if you’re invited to join meetings that involve senior management, managers from other departments, or key clients. “This obviously reflects a great deal of trust in your abilities,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humor Advantage.”
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job, agrees. “This is a great sign, especially if your advice is sought during these meetings and you’re asked to lead future ones.”
You’ve been asked to take on a special assignment or project with added responsibilities
Again, being asked to tackle challenging or difficult tasks isn’t a bad thing. It’s probably a sign that your boss is impressed.
“It shows that you’ve earned the trust of at least your immediate leader and it’s a great opportunity to grow and demonstrate new skills,” says Kerr.
Your boss is being promoted
When your boss moves up, it’s a prime opportunity for you to advance – especially if you’ve worked closely with your boss and they’ve groomed you for the spot, says Taylor.
You’re being asked to talk about your long-term career plans
Your manager isn’t just being nosy.
If your boss takes the time to have an in-depth conversation about your family life, training goals, and long-term career plans, then this is a sign that senior leaders are sussing out where you, and possibly your colleagues, stand in terms of career goals and ambition, says Kerr.
Your boss or higher-ups start inviting you to lunch
- Gareth Williams/flickr
This isn’t the case in every workplace, but often, prior to a promotion, you may notice more invitations to lunch, says Taylor. “Good bosses view themselves as mentors and enjoy sharing in your success. They may also want to show appreciation for your work or want greater camaraderie through lunch or coffee breaks, as their level of trust increases. All positive signs for a promotion.”
Kudos are more public, and more frequent
- University of Exeter/Flickr
Public recognition is always a good thing, but if it’s a big part of your company culture, you might not think anything of it when your boss suddenly starts openly praising you more often.
But it could mean they’ve been more impressed with you lately and want everyone to know – which may mean a promotion is coming your way.
“If you’re seeing more emails with ‘Good job!’ and higher ups are being copied – or you’re even praised in public more frequently – your boss may be making a case to clinch the deal for your promotion by creating a positive ‘paper trail,'” says Taylor.
The company is rapidly expanding
- Flickr/Random Retail
This may not, of course, mean that you’ll be in line for a promotion, but it does mean that there’s the potential for new roles to open up and for people, including your immediate boss, to be shifted somewhere else, Kerr explains.
“If your company is thriving and your department is actively hiring, this bodes well for your advancement,” adds Taylor. “But you’ll need tenure at the firm, and solid recent results to show for it, of course. Promotions are merit-based, not tenure-based.”
Managers suddenly pay you more attention
Do higher-ups seem to be paying more attention to your perspectives, ideas, and communications in emails and proposals? Do they suddenly say “hi” and smile every time they pass you in the hallway? Maybe it’s because you’re on their radar.
Your job description has already been upgraded functionally
- Tech Hub/flickr
When you’re already doing more senior work that is suited for a higher-level job description, you’re considered a good candidate for a promotion, Taylor says. “There’s little downside, as you have a proven track record. So the title (and hopefully salary increase), become a formality.”
You’ve got a high emotional intelligence
“You might be able to get away with being a temperamental genius in entry-level positions, but you’ll never move past that without emotional intelligence. If you’re the type who’s prone to temper tantrums when things don’t go your way; losing your cool when people cross you; storming out of rooms, yelling; or going silent during conflict, you’re signaling to your boss that you don’t want a promotion.”
You rise above office politics
While everyone else is engaging in “Game of Thrones”-level intrigue, you’ve been drama free since ’93. And that’s not because you’re some sort of office hermit. You’re actively engaged in the company culture. You’re a staple at holiday parties and happy hour. You just manage to maintain positive and professional relationships instead of getting embroiled in schemes.
All this is probably making your managers’ lives easier, putting you in a prime spot to move up the ladder.
You’re asked to train other staff members
Your bosses probably want you to train your replacement – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
It’s possible that you’re about to get sacked, but look on the bright side, but you also might be looking at a big promotion.