ASK HR: I am a model employee, why don’t I get promoted?

Q. I report to work on time, utilise my employer’s time well and execute my duties without prompting.
Unlike many of my colleagues, I am reliable and don’t need supervision to do my job.
In spite of this, it is as if I am invisible because I have never been given a promotion yet I have worked in this company for five years.
Where could I be going wrong?

Your definition of a model employee clearly is not the same as your employer’s.
The ideal situation for most, if not all employers, is to have employees who meet their performance targets, targets that directly translate into more revenue and enhanced products or service for the clients they serve.
In whatever capacity you are serving, the ultimate objective is to ensure that you understand the objectives assigned to your department to help achieve the organisation’s strategy.
In the modern work environment, reporting to work on time in itself may not be seen as a great achievement since some organisations allow staff to work from home.
Productivity is the new buzz word, therefore it is not about the number of hours you give to your employer, rather, the quality of your output.

Get Hired Today
What unique skills do you have to offer your employer? Promotion decisions are based on performance at your current role plus demonstrable ability to perform at the next level.
Attitude and ability to supervise a team or processes is also a key consideration. You need to develop these skills over and above your performance.
There is a belief amongst employees that the destiny of your career growth is determined and mapped out by the manager and human resources, which is far from the truth.
You must be in control of your career growth by finding out what technical skills and competencies you need to catapult your career.
You should also not loss focus by comparing yourself to your colleagues, chart your own career growth agenda since it’s unlikely that any two people will have the same career aspiration and even more unlikely that they will achieve it in similar ways and at the same time.
However, it is not all doom and gloom, the fact that you have been in the organisation for five years means that your contribution is valued.
You just need to find out how you can offer additional value whilst developing your skills and competencies to earn yourself a promotion.
Initiate discussion with your supervisor regarding your career goals and expectations and your frustration at your stagnation in one position.
The response you get may open your eyes to any performance shortcomings and also demonstrate your value proposition to your department and to the organisation in general.
If you sense that there is no hope for career progression in this organisation, and there may be no more room for your career to develop, you have a choice of seeking your desired role elsewhere.