Help My Boss Is Holding Me Back

What do you do when you want a promotion and your sales manager is standing in the way?

Jeb Blount
3-minute read

How to Get More Responsibility At Work

If you really believe in yourself and your ability to take on more responsibility, but feel like your boss isn't giving you the opportunity,  my suggestion is to schedule some time to talk one-on-one with your boss, preferably over lunch, away from the day-to-day hustle of the office. Getting away from the office gets you out of the boss’s power zone and creates an even playing field. It will give you a better opportunity to connect on an emotional level..

How to Talk to Your Boss

Share with your boss that you truly enjoy the work you do for your company and as a motivated member of the team, you've set professional goals for yourself that include certain levels of accomplishment. Let her know that you are eager to take on the next stage in your professional sales career (i.e. more responsibility) and feel more than ready to make that move now. In a polite and tactful manner, explain that you are hungry to contribute at the next level and if those opportunities don't exist at this company, then you'll be forced to pursue them elsewhere.

Stay Calm and Relaxed

As you can imagine, being polite and tactful are key here. While you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot by giving her an ultimatum, you owe it to yourself to be forthright with her. Be very careful to stay calm and relaxed and do not allow your frustration or anger to show. Do not threaten to go over her head. Doing so will create an instant enemy and will put your career in jeopardy.

Consider Your Boss's Point of View

Important points to make during this conversation are that you’re grateful for her leadership, and attribute much of your success and readiness to grow to her coaching and the environment she's fostered. Then let her know that you will do whatever it takes to make the transition smooth and to train a new rep to take your place. She is probably threatened by your desire for growth and, with good reason, concerned that she will lose your sales, which will surely impact her bonus. You want to step into her shoes and demonstrate that you also see things from her point of view.

You may also be thinking that you've already addressed this with her so why should you bother wasting your time on this again. Unfortunately, those drive-buy "shout outs" didn't work--perhaps she didn’t get the message or she thought by ignoring your request that you would just go away. In either case, if you really want more responsibility, you must take this head on. The key is planning, tact, and respect. You may be surprised by her positive reaction. You may even find that, with this direct approach, she will provide you with a list of steps and milestones that you will need to reach to get where you want to be.

What to Do if Your Boss Doesn't Listen

However if she's still resistant to helping you get a promotion, you've got decisions to make: stick it out, go over her head, or find another sales job. But, no matter what, at least you'll know you did the right thing by addressing the situation directly with your boss. Remember, things worth having aren't always easy. Just believe, and have faith in yourself and your abilities, and I promise that things will work out in your favor.