You may be nervous to ask for what you want at work, whether that is a promotion, salary increase or flexible schedule. But not asking for what you want could be more risky than asking. Not asking for what you want can negatively impact your performance as an employee and ultimately stifle your career and the organization for which you work. Here are five reasons you may not have secured your career goals and some ways to help you achieve them:
1. You don’t know what you want.
If you don’t know what you want with your career, you can’t ask for it. You are the best (and perhaps only) person to know what it is you want. Take time to think about it.
Do you want a promotion, to be placed on projects with more exposure or a more flexible schedule? Is there something you dream about doing at work? Do you wish you could do something that your colleague does? What do you want? Know what you current priorities are.
2. You haven’t asked for what you want.
When you know what you want, ask for it. Do not assume people know what you are thinking and what it is you want. Tell people.
Singer Kelly Clarkson insisted on having time in her new talk show schedule to take her children to school. She says that you have to make people aware that something is important to you and not to feel guilty about it.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Ask for what you want.
3. You don’t know how to ask for what you want.
You have asked for what you want, and you are still not getting what you want. Did you ask in the right way? Don’t demand what you want. Don’t say you deserve whatever it is you want. You do not want to sound like you are entitled. Be respectful.
Also, recognize the context of your ask. You may want more resources to be able to complete a project, but your company had a rough third quarter. You may want to address how you could save money elsewhere. How you ask is as important as what you ask for.
Your communication skills could be what makes or breaks your ask. Use your communications skills now to start building credibility, trust and influence.
4. You haven’t asked at the right time.
Timing is everything. If you are new to a company or role, consider waiting at least a few months before asking for something. Use that time in your role to show your worth so that the other person sees that you deserve what you want. (Note: It is better to show that you deserve something than to merely say you deserve it.)
Your manager may actually support what you are looking to do, but you just missed the deadline to be considered for a promotion or the project you wanted to manage was just assigned a team lead. Ask questions on when promotions or raises are considered and when projects are assigned. Know when your fiscal year begins. Gather information. Show your interest in wanting to lead, and be informed so that you know when you have to ask for what you want. Don’t miss your window of opportunity.
5. You haven’t asked the appropriate person.
Perhaps you know what you want to do with your career and have asked for it but are still getting a “no.” Did you ask the right person? Perhaps that person did not have the authority to give you what you want. That person may not be the decision maker. Maybe the person who oversees your work may not be your formal manager and someone else makes the decisions on salary increases.
Find out who has the authority to make the decision for what you want. Consider your organization’s structure. Inquire with colleagues. Do some research so you ask the appropriate person.
Know what you want and ask for it. Make sure you are asking the right person, know how to ask for what you want and ask at the best time possible. “No” is not the worst outcome. The worst outcome is not asking at all or not asking properly for what you want.