Watching someone else get a promotion you’ve been slaving away for is a huge slap to the face.

It might not be something you want to hear right now, but the truth is that getting ahead in any field is less about working hard than it is about working smart.


Pause and re-strategise: take a good, hard look at yourself and zero in on all the aspects of your work or image that need improvement.

Maximise your employability and cement your chances of promotion with SSA Academy’s WSQ Course on maintaining personal presentation today. 


Soft skills


1. Passivity


Just because you’ve been working extra hard doesn’t mean you’ll get noticed for that particular role that you’re aiming for.

If the right people don’t know what you’ve been working on or how you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty, it makes little difference. In the worst case scenario, your extra hard work might even be misinterpreted as a lack of efficiency or productivity.




  • Make it known to whoever is directly responsible for it that you’re looking to get promoted
  • Ask exactly what is expected of you in order to work your way up
  • Request tougher assignments that will allow you to prove your mettle
  • Actively approach your teammates and superiors for feedback on your performance

If you need more ideas on how to take initiative at work, this’ll help.

2. Not thinking strategically enough.

It’s not enough to keep your head down and focus on your immediate work.

You need to show that you’re capable of macro-thinking and mental agility, including being able to determine strategic priorities in the short-term and long-term, and how to future-proof your company.




  • What are the strategic challenges your company is facing?
  • What new developments in your field, technological or otherwise, are there that could drastically affect your company’s standing?
  • What unmet needs are there in your industry today, how will these change in the future, and how can your company be the first to swoop in to close the gaps?


3. Not demonstrating people management skills

The higher up the corporate ladder you want to climb, the higher the expectations will be for you to be able to lead a team effectively.



This goes beyond simply knowing how to assign responsibilities and delegate tasks. To be an effective leader, you need to be able to actively support your team’s growth, meaning:


  • Resolving conflicts well without pandering to office politics
  • Fortifying each team members’ strengths while facilitating improvement on their weaknesses
  • Empathising with team members’ challenges at work and encouraging resilience


If you need a more structured approach to learning people management skills, take SSA Academy’s WSQ course on solving problems and making decisions at managerial level.

Hard skills


4. Not mastering the skills you need to excel at what you were hired for

You might have been able to get by at 70-80% capacity when you were a new hire, but when you’re aiming for a promotion, 110% is the bare minimum.

If you can’t prove that you’re the best of the best at what you were hired to do, it’s difficult to even get noticed by the higher-ups, much less considered for a promotion.



  • Break down your personal workflow and examine each segment closely
  • What skills do you need to optimise each segment? Researching? Programming? Data analysis?
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Consider getting certifications for the skills you’re working on
  • Ask for constructive criticism of your work and use it to streamline your efforts for maximum efficacy


5. Not learning new skills to do more than what’s expected of you

Once you’ve gotten to 110%, you need to augment the breadth of your skill set.

It might take more time to pick up entirely new skills compared to working on skills you’ve already got, but again, the key is to be strategic about it.




  • Look at your team processes and figure out which new skills you can learn to raise the team’s collective efficiency and productivity
  • Utilise technology to learn independently and in your own time
  • Ask for assignments to apply those skills at work once you’re reasonably confident of your abilities





6. Not producing enough work fast enough

Reaching optimal productivity levels for yourself necessitates working harder than you already are, but it doesn’t mean you need to start bumping up your overtime.



A lot of the time, the output difference between two equally talented and hardworking employees comes down to the ability to concentrate. Producing high quality work at high speed requires absolute concentration.


  • Cut out multi-tasking and concentrate fully on one task at a time
  • Tell your colleagues not to disturb you for a given period of time for maximum concentration
  • Minimise the time you spend checking emails, in unproductive meetings and on social media


Here’s a few more ways to boost your productivity without needing to put in overtime.

If you can cultivate this ability to perfection, you’ll blow your peers straight out of the water with the sheer calibre of your output.


SSA Academy provides customized programmes and solutions to address your specific needs. Send us your inquiries and we'll get back to you shortly.

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