There is a new terminology that is being talked about today, especially for people in their mid-career stages: Quiet promotion.
What does it mean and what are the possible implications?
Simply put, it means more work without a change in designation or salary.
Imagine you are working in a company and doing well. You are suddenly asked to take up another project or help another colleague.
So far, so good, right?
In fact, many organisations speak about stretch goals and cross-functional participation as part of overall employee development. Some of these projects can forge new connections, give new learning and help your career growth.
Where’s the challenge then, you might ask.
Well that lies in the intent and the execution. Imagine this not just as a one-off project but a gradual, creeping and almost permanent shift.More importantly, it is a challenge if it is not something that is in line with your career goals and you are not really getting any short-term or long-term benefits from it.
There can be many reasons why quiet promotion is happening. The company could be cutting down expenses. It might be losing people in specific roles due to attrition. While both of these are possible business causes, the issue is such extensions of work happen without reason and planning.
The long-term negative impact for employees in such extreme situations could be overwork, exhaustion and even burnout.
This is even more critical because many people in their mid-career stages are looking for opportunities for growth. Many also have family responsibilities and need to plan for their financial goals. For some, it is also important to carve out some time for home and family.
Hence, work and pay need to match and quiet promotion, when not done well, could be hampering that.
So how can someone spot and address this?
The first simple rule is to have a process of ongoing check in discussions with your manager. This is a regular practice in many companies. But it should not just be a checklist meeting. To get the most out of such checkins, it is good to discuss your plans and goals and to ensure that if the organisation is offering you a new project, it’s aligned with those.
Second, once you get any such opportunity, it’s good to again keep balancing time between your core work and the new work. Regular communication and updates help. And at the appropriate time, if you feel that you are really handling it well and can continue to do so, it could be time for also a discussion on possible steps in terms of a promotion and pay raise.
On the other hand, if the situation seems untenable, one needs to be ready to raise it again in a one-on-one discussion. It should be a meeting to re-assess priorities, and plan for what’s really critical, for you and your growth and for the company at that stage of growth.
Good companies that value employees will be open to such discussions.