What to do if you don't get that promotion

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Dec 16, 2013

AS THE year draws to a close, the much-anticipated bonus period is just around the corner.

Some employees will feel quietly confident of a pay rise or promotion or perhaps both.

Others will be bracing themselves for the possibility of being sorely disappointed.

Human resource experts have some tips on how to handle the ups and downs of bonus season and how to do better next time by preparing for the year ahead.

They outline some scenarios you may have faced and how best to respond in a constructive way.

If you didn't get the pay rise you hoped for

A PAY rise is tied to your performance in the previous year, so look at your performance rating to see how well you have done.

Ms Joanne Chua, associate director at Robert Walters Singapore, says: "If your performance rating is below average, do not have unrealistic expectations for a pay increment. If you get any, be appreciative as well."

She also suggests finding out the company's average increment.

"If you have exceeded your performance (expectation), you should hopefully secure an increase that is above average.

"If you genuinely feel that the outcome is unjustified, have a chat with your line manager and find out what you need to do in order to have the pay increase you are looking for in the next year."

Aon Hewitt's global survey for salary increases this year shows that salary growth in Asia is 5.8 per cent on average, which is faster than that in Europe and North America but slower than in the Middle East and Africa.

Singapore manages an average salary growth of 4.6 per cent while Hong Kong's is a notch higher at 4.8 per cent. This gives you an idea of how your salary can grow.

Senior client partner Na Boon Chong from Aon Hewitt, South- east Asia, said salary increases also depend on a company's ability to pay.

"Companies will typically also take into account how they are paying the current employees. If they are paid high against the market rates, the company would tend to pay a lower salary increase so as not to accentuate the problem of overpaying relative to the market," he says.

Understanding the way both the market and your employer view salary increases is helpful, if you wish to approach your manager or supervisor for a chat about the lack of a pay rise.

One option is to have a chat "at the time of setting performance expectations instead of waiting till the salary decision at the end of the year", adds Mr Na. "If your manager is fuzzy about your performance expectation, you should seek clarification and feedback throughout the year."

If you didn't get the promotion you hoped for

EXPERTS say you should ask why you were not given the promotion and what you need to do to achieve that goal.

Ms Diana Low, director at Michael Page Singapore, says: "There should be an understanding of why it didn't happen. Ask what would be the areas of development needed and how to develop, what you need to do to perform better, in order to get a promotion."

She advises employees to truly study their own expectations. If you need help to better understand the situation, consider talking to headhunters or recruiters.

Mr Na adds that the promotion question is trickier than the pay rise one. In some positions such as managerial appointments, being promoted depends not just on individual merit, but on whether there is a vacancy.

"You may be ready, but if your company is not growing and has limited headroom for promotions, then you can either help your company to grow and thereby create more promotion opportunities, or go somewhere else to prove your mettle," says Mr Na.

In the bigger picture, "companies that are not growing would end up releasing their best talent for the other companies or industries instead of hoarding them".

And that, he adds, is the free market at work matching talent demand and supply.

If you decide you want to change jobs

MAKE sure you have exhausted all options within the company and reached your own limits before making this decision.

Ms Chua says: "Find out the reason for wanting to change jobs. If it is to acquire new skills, you can think about seeking an internal transfer."

If you have really made up your mind about leaving, it is time for more hard work.

"Work on your interview skills, network with the right people, have your CV ready and talk to recruiters," says Ms Low. It will take a few months, but always be well prepared.

Employers have a part to play too, says Alexander Mann Solutions' Martin Cerullo, managing director of development in Asia- Pacific.

It is rare for one single factor to cause employees to move on from an organisation, he said.

He advises employers to "give your people the flexibility, the opportunity to move and grow within the organisation, give them the development opportunities and the training, and they will stay".

Mr Na agrees and says that managers have a great part to play in all of this.

"There will be times when you cannot reward the good contributors despite their good efforts, simply because of the financial situation. That is when inspirational managers make a difference over the transactional managers.

"Talent will follow the former in spite of the occasional disappointment. Leadership quality is a form of intangible reward."

Employees should also never settle for vague goal settings and expectations.

Always have a clear understanding of your manager's expectations of you for the next performance cycle, says Mr Na, and get feedback along the way.

He notes: "This is important in this volatile business environment as goals set at the beginning of the year may have to change during the year as the business environment changes."

In the end, adds Ms Low, always aim to exceed expectations.

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Dec 16, 2013

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