Are you a people pleaser? 5 reasons why you are not getting promoted

Everyone likes you. You’re that nice girl at Accounts or is it HR? Always smiling, always ready to lend an ear or a hand. You always go the extra mile, you are the go-to girl when there’s an emergency, you dress for the job you want as ‘they’ said you should……. Why is the promotion not coming? Why are you so anxious, tired and overwhelmed but don’t have the job title and salary to match? Here are 5 clues that can help you put that puzzle together.

  1. Inability to Set Boundaries

Everyone loves a hard worker. Peers love a colleague who is always ready and willing to do take on the slack and never complains. Bosses love a subordinate who is always willing to take on a task without complaining. It is often easier to just give the work to the one who will not make a fuss. Your colleagues might love you for your inability to say no because it guarantees that there’s always someone who will do what they don’t want to do. But no one respects a walkover and leadership requires one who can govern. The first place one governs is their boundaries. Wondering why you keep getting passed over for promotions? No one respects you.

2. Fear of Making Mistakes

While producing quality work will certainly get you noticed. Obsessive-compulsive nit picking will hold you back. For one it will take you longer to finish any piece of work you are given. This might keep you so busy and you might come across as overwhelmed and unable to take on more responsibility. I have often noticed how men do less, often don’t sweat the details but still get ahead. There are limited hours in a day and as much as it is important to produce work of good quality and to always dazzle your audience; your fear of making mistakes might keep you from assessing what level of effort is required for tasks that come to your desk. There are limited hours in a day, if you want to make an impact, you have to manage how you spend them.

3. Fear of Criticism

Criticism is not easy for anyone to take. Very few people can see negative criticism as constructive. However, if you do anything of importance, people will have different views about it, some valid and some not so valid. If you fall apart every time you get criticized, you might come across as fragile and your colleagues may withhold criticism that might be constructive. Research shows that male bosses often hold back criticism from their female subordinates because of the fear that they can’t handle it. Of course, this is bias. However, most people don’t like to be disagreeable, if you come across as fragile, people will treat you that way. You won’t inspire confidence to be trusted with more responsibility. There goes your promotion.

4. No Backbone

People pleasers often find that it is hard to be disagreeable. They may pretend to agree with anyone who has their ear in the name of politeness. Although this might earn them brownie points with whoever is listening, they can come across as phoney. If there are two sides to a conflict, people who are friendly with both sides are often viewed with suspicion. You need to be agreeable might come across to others as someone who doesn’t have any conviction and therefore cannot be trusted with responsibility or loyalty.

5. Fear of Disapproval

The fear of the disapproval of other people can be debilitating. One of the criticisms that are often levelled against women at work is not using their voice, especially in meetings. The fear of disapproval can make you second guess yourself and fail to communicate with confidence. 

It is also a weakness when one has subordinates. Fear of giving negative feedback, delegating and calling out one of your team members if their behaviour is unacceptable might break down the morale of the whole team, especially those who do their best. Leadership requires one to make unpopular decisions, if you have a fear of disapproval you will have difficulty in this area.

Positioning yourself for leadership will require you to show ambition and be willing to toot your own horn. These are traditional traits that women are often punished for demonstrating and can invite jealousy from others. If you have a fear of disapproval, you might shrink yourself to avoid disapproval. That guarantees that you will stay the best-kept secret, in the same position year after year.

In Conclusion

People-pleasing may guarantee that you are well-liked. Research shows that likability is an imposed standard for women at work, becoming one of the unfair biases which women have to contend with. However, to position yourself as a serious contender for strategic leadership positions; you need to command respect more than likability.

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Published by Hlatswayobusisiwe

MBA (Henley), Career Coach and Founder Black Women in the workplace

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