What are the four things your boss will never tell you about getting a raise or promotion?




1) Stop thinking doing a good job is the most important thing

Hard work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Performance is only loosely tied to who succeeds:

Via Stanford business school professor Jeffrey Pfeffer’s book Power:

The data shows that performance doesn’t matter that much for what happens to most people in most organizations. That includes the effect of your accomplishments on those ubiquitous performance evaluations and even on your job tenure and promotion prospects.

Research shows being liked affects performance reviews more than actual performance:

In an experimental study of the performance appraisals people received, those who were able to create a favorable impression received higher ratings than did people who actually performed better but did not do as good a job in managing the impressions they made on others.


2) Be a little self-obsessed, be a little obsessive

“Narcissism and obsessive compulsiveness were correlated with success.”

Dark side traits have been associated as much with success as failure in specific occupations. This study examines the possibility that some “dark side” traits may be advantageous in particular occupations by focusing on the relationship of eleven dark side traits with six, self-report, validated measures of occupation behaviour and potential. Nearly 5000 British adults completed the Hogan Development Survey (HDS), and the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) which has six criterion-based measures of occupational scales. Whilst some disorders (i.e. Excitable, Sceptical) seemed consistently associated with low work outcome and potential ratings, others seemed either neutral or positively associated (Bold, Diligent). Some dark side traits were highly variable being positively associated with some occupational scales, but not others (Mischievous, Colourful). The total ‘potential’ index of three potential measures showed most positive correlations with dark-side traits. The present results suggest that the manifestation of specific dark side traits may not always lead to work problems.


3) Manage up or Move out

Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Power, explains the three keys to moving a career forward:

  • Let higher ups know what you’re accomplishing
  • Shape perceptions of your work, early and often
  • If it’s not working, moving on is better than trying harder


4) Most pay raises are given to prevent good employees from leaving

If you’re not good, and it doesn’t seem like you might leave, don’t count on bigger checks:

This paper studies the ex-ante effect of worker separations on wage negotiations using matched worker–firm data from The Netherlands. We find that wage negotiations aim to prevent separations; workers with a high propensity to quit are offered higher wages, while workers with a high layoff probability give up some of their wage.

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