Coaching Strategies for the Employee Who is Not Ready for Promotion (But Thinks He/She Is)

climb-corporate-ladderIf you’re coaching employees within your organization who want to get promoted yet aren’t quite ready to get promoted, what do you do? The situation may stem from an employee who is a Millennial that wants to see promotions happen fast, or the employee may be someone who’s been with the company a while and feels that seniority should qualify him/her for a promotion.

And yet, something is missing—a skill set, a breadth of experience, a level of professionalism and discernment—that the employee either doesn’t see or doesn’t agree with. Assuming that motives, strengths, and interests for getting promoted have been discussed, consider some of these coaching strategies:

Coach using ICF #3 Establishing Trust:

[connect, show that you truly ‘get’ them] “I hear you when you say that it’s your turn, your time. And I hear the frustration that it’s not happening quickly enough.”

Note: It’s critical that you NOT follow this connection with the word BUT, as in “but your manager has a point” or “but you need to be patient.” The BUT basically says, “let me show you where you’re wrong” and destroys the connection you just made.

“Sounds like you’re fed up with getting plenty of opinions! What do you not want to hear at this point?”

Coach using ICF #7 Direct Communication:

“You mentioned your manager said you were ‘not ready’ and that you ‘just need more experience and to hang tight.’ What does ‘hang tight’ look like to you… [and] what does it look like to your manager?”

“Your response to the manager’s delay is also part of what he will be evaluating in terms of your readiness. What do you want him to see? … What would cause him to trust you? … What would cause you to trust him?”

Coach using ICF #8 Creating Awareness:

“How do you interpret his statement of ‘you’re not ready’?”
“And, how do you think your manager interprets that statement?”

“Sounds like you are interpreting this as punishment! What do you notice when you go there? … If you could play with giving him the benefit of the doubt, what does that open up for you?”

Coach using ICF #9 Designing Actions:

“So you’ve got a manager who is, as you say, ‘bad at developing people.’ How do you not let that get in the way of your success, without burning bridges or doing something rash?”

Learn strategies like this and more in our Certified Career and Talent Development Coach program. Starts Tuesday September 20th! More info at

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