The crucial asking for promotion etiquette rules. The appropriate behavior for asking your manager for a promotion politely and effectively.

What asking for promotion etiquette is

Asking for promotion etiquette is the set of rules to politely ask your manager for promotion. Such rules include:

  • How to make an appropriate request for a promotion.
  • The behaviors to avoid.

As an employee, before asking your manager for a promotion, follow these etiquette rules to make the right impression and increase your chances of success.

As a manager or an employer, promote asking for promotion etiquette to encourage your team to make mature requests and have positive career discussions.

General asking for promotion etiquette principles

Asking for promotion etiquette is based on two main principles.

  • Avoid making your manager feel used.
  • Not being perceived as entitled or aggressive when asking for a promotion.
etiquette rules for asking your manager for promotion

Asking for promotion etiquette rules

1) Know what you are selling

When we ask for a promotion, we make a positive statement. We state that we like our organization, that we intend to keep growing in it, and that we are ambitious and eager to contribute more.

This is a very positive message to convey to your manager or employer. It means that, by promoting you, they help a loyal member of their team to contribute even more to the organization. This is what you are selling, a benefit for yourself and also the organization. If you frame your request this way, its reception will be positive. It will be easier to enlist your manager as a supporter of your promotion because it benefits the whole team.

Do not act entitled, like you believe that the promotion is owed to you. Before asking your manager for a promotion, assess what you can or cannot ask them. Understand the limit of what you can ask. For example, if you never managed people before, it may be hard to get a role that involves managing a large team.

2) Choose the right time for asking for a promotion

The success of your request largely depends on the timing. Asking for a promotion at the right time significantly increases the chances of success. While asking for a promotion at the wrong time results in almost certain rejection. For example, it is best not to ask for a promotion during a busy period or if the company is in troubled waters.

Ask for a promotion a few months in advance. Even if there is no role open, signal to your manager that you intend to stay in the company and progress in your career. If you ask for a promotion abruptly, the chances of success are lower. On the other hand, if you ask well in advance the manager will feel flattered, as you are asking for their support to get the promotion. Furthermore, the manager will have plenty of time to organize and fulfill your request.

Ask for a promotion in a private setting. Never ask for a promotion in public, as you would put the manager in an embarrassing spot. Thus, you seriously risk harming the relationship.

3) Be clear and appropriate when asking for a promotion

Before asking for a promotion, make sure that you are in good standing. Your last performance reviews need to be positive. Show constant effort and engagement in your work.

Start by making your intentions clear. State what you need and would like to get. Make your request precise, with the exact steps that you wish the manager to take. Keep a positive tone of voice and positive body language.

Finally, state why you are asking them. It is polite to use some light flattery, but do not exceed it. After asking for a promotion, it is polite to ask whether the manager has other suggestions in that regard.

Always ask for a promotion in person. Avoid asking it over the phone, text messages, voice messages, or email, as they look impersonal and the message and its tone can be misinterpreted.

4) Explain the reasons behind your request for a promotion

When asking for a promotion, state the reasons behind your request. Showing the reasons for your request increases trust.

Say why you think it is the right time, why a promotion will benefit you, and how it will benefit the company. Do not make it all about you, but also do not pretend that you care only about the company. The promotion happens when your incentives and the company’s incentives are aligned.

5) Allow the manager time to work on it

Always allow the manager an easy way out. Leave them the option to buy time without embarrassment. Your manager will need to think about your request, how to manage it, and maybe how to manage your replacement if they promote you. Thus, do not insist too much as you risk being perceived as entitled or arrogant.

6) A promotion is a process: agree on the next steps

However, as an employee, it is perfectly appropriate to discuss career progression. Thus, while you should allow your manager time to think about your request, you should also ask them to commit to the next steps.

It is enough to politely ask what the next steps are and what you can expect.

7) Respect a negative answer

If the manager does not accept your request for a promotion, you should respect their answer.

However, it is perfectly appropriate to ask why they are rejecting your request. The manager should provide some explanation and suggest a path toward a promotion. In other words, the manager should turn the “no” into a “not now”. Then, they should state under what conditions you will be able to get promoted. Usually, the manager will assign you additional tasks and responsibilities to help you gradually grow into a new role.

Rejecting your request without providing any reason is impolite. If that happens, take it as a cue. It means that you are unlikely to get a promotion anytime soon.

8) Express gratitude if the manager grants you a promotion

Be grateful if your manager promotes you or offers you a career path. Thank them and show gratitude.

asking for a promotion etiquette worst mistakes

Asking for promotion etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst asking for promotion etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Asking for promotion in public.
  • 9/10. Not thanking your manager after a promotion.
  • 8/10. Not accepting a “no”.
  • 8/10. Making it all about you.
  • 5/10. Asking for a too-large promotion.


  • Research: Do People Really Get Promoted to Their Level of Incompetence?