Securing A Promotion As A Project Manager

Paul Naybour

Do you feel like your career has hit a roadblock? Many people experience that moment at some point in their career when they feel like they are not progressing and cannot understand why they are not being considered for a promotion. Does this sound familiar?

As a project manager, there are always ways for you to achieve more, for example, to work on more challenging projects and have greater responsibilities within the organisation. Of course, achieving more money is always a good bonus too! If you feel like you are not moving forward in your career, read on to discover more about securing a promotion as a  project manager.


There are a number of different reasons why you may not have been promoted yet. Here are some of the most common:

  1. You don’t take feedback on board – Constructive feedback should never be a cause for being defensive, especially when it comes to project management. There are always going to be things that could have been done better, and learning from them is key for any project manager. If you spend your time trying to prove you were not in the wrong or blame someone on your team, you are merely wasting your time and pushing yourself to the back of the promotion queue. Instead, to get what you want, you need to take the comments on board and try to improve. Once you do this, it will be noted and stand you in good stead for the next promotion.
  2. You lack professionalism – A lot of people do not realise that they lack professionalism, which means you need to take a good look at your behaviour in the workplace to determine whether this applies to you. Are you constantly negative about the company you work for? You may think you are only negative to your co-workers, but it is likely that your opinions have fed back to senior management. Do you dress professionally? Are you always on time?


    1. You haven’t enhanced your skill set – While many companies offer in-house training opportunities for their employees, there are some businesses that do not offer any form of training for workers to improve their project management skills. This can be frustrating, but it does not mean that you have to remain stagnant in terms of knowledge and skills. There are so many different project management courses available today, both on-site and online, which could propel your career to the next level.
    2. You don’t bring as much to the table as you should – Simply doing what is expected of you is great, but it is not going to make you stand out in terms of trying to secure a promotion. If you bring ideas to the table that not only relate to the project you are managing, but the business as a whole, you will impress the right people and make them realise you are proactive in improving areas that could benefit the business.



One of the biggest mistakes that people make is assuming that their boss knows that this is the case. In fact, your boss may assume that you are happy in your current position and that you are not interested in any other role. You need to make it known that you are looking for an opportunity to progress.


project manager sitting at desk



One of the best ways to put yourself forward for a promotion is to invest in yourself. If the company you work for does not offer training opportunities, don’t simply accept this. Instead, you should take it upon yourself to advance your skills independently with relevant training courses. There are a number of benefits of project management training, as you can see below:

  1. There is only one place to begin, and this is with the fact that you have shown initiative. It will certainly impress your boss if you have taken it upon yourself to develop your skills so that, in turn, you can then benefit the business.
  2. It is a good way to get your current team on side and for them to gain more confidence in you. You will gain more respect from your co-workers if you are actively trying to better yourself and be the greatest project manager you can be. Your team will see that you take your role seriously and that you have the required qualifications. They are more likely to trust what you have to say and your methods if they know you have received formal training. This is of critical importance. After all, your team’s performance determines the success of your projects. If you are successful and your team believes in you, this will make a huge difference in terms of how you are viewed by those more senior in the organisation.
  3. You will become a lot more efficient across all aspects of project management if you take one of the available training courses. For example, you will find that you are able to plan projects better and communicate more effectively. This is because you will benefit from a ‘roadmap’ that can easily be followed and adapted, helping you to avoid common errors but also learn from your mistakes. Anything that makes your life easier has to be a good thing, right?

Benefits PM Training

  1. So, you have gained a relevant qualification, but you still don’t get promoted. Of course, that’s frustrating but all is not lost. Any type of project management certification is going to look good on your CV. This can help you if you decide to move on to a different job at a different company. Sometimes that is the only and best way to achieve a promotion.
  2. A project management training course will help you to develop the skills you already have. No one is the complete package. There is always room for improvement, especially when it comes to dealing with change, for example, managing quality, managing conflict, developing critical success factors, leadership, planning, communicating with project teams, communicating with stakeholders, stakeholder engagement, stakeholder management, and people management. As you see the list is almost endless.
  3. Not only will you develop your existing skills, but you will learn new skills too. This might include earned value management, the procurement process, detailed knowledge regarding scheduling, costing, pert charts, monitoring projects, planning, implementing projects, and active risk management.

secure a promotion as a project manager


Of course, being good at what you do is always the most important ingredient when it comes to putting yourself at the front of the queue for a project management promotion. Here are some of the different ways you can get started.

  1. Improve your communication skills. After all, you are going to be communicating with everyone from your team members, to external customers, to the finance department, to C-level executives. Projects can fall very quickly if there is not open, frequent and candid communication about expectations, obstacles and goals. It is up to you to make sure that this communication is effective.
  2. Have you missed any deadlines lately? If so, this could be what is preventing you from getting the promotion you desire. We all know that time management is incredibly difficult. Even the most experienced project managers struggle with it. Deadlines are often missed because project teams fall behind, or because the wrong deadline was implemented in the first place. Don’t set your team up for failure by promising a deadline that cannot be achieved. As a project manager, you need to ensure that your team and your projects are on track and on time, which can be difficult when there are endless distractions in the modern workplace. One of the best ways to ensure everything is on track is to have a critical path whereby tasks are completed in a certain order, and that the handoff points are tightly managed.
  3. Embrace technology, but make sure it is the right technology. Nowadays, there is an abundance of technology available to help you do your job better, and you should take advantage of it. This includes everything from collaboration tools for the entire team, to file-sharing services, to project tracking software. If you have the best tools, you will be able to enhance your effectiveness in your role. You simply need to decide what is going to work best for you and your team.
  4. Be a good motivator. There are a number of ways you can do this, including:
    • Get to know your team members. Every person is different, and thus you need to get to know your team members if you are going to be able to motivate each one effectively. Only by doing this will you be able to understand each person’s strengths, as well as the dynamic of the team. This ensures that you can put each person in the right place to give him or her the ability to shine.
    • Hold informal review sessions. Some project managers only implement review sessions once a project is over but it is wise to host informal review sessions throughout the project. Make sure these sessions are friendly, casual and simple, and you will notice that team members will enjoy them, discovering where they are doing well and what areas they can improve.
    • Another way to enhance motivation amongst your team is to establish goals. If you do not have objectives in place, your team will not have a set of aims to work towards, and this will cause their motivation levels to dwindle. It is important to have individual goals in place, not just team goals. After all, every team member is going to be intrinsically motivated to a degree. And, therefore, by setting individual objectives, you will be able to use this to move the project forward.
    • You need to be motivated. If you are not motivated, how do you expect your team to be motivated? Therefore, motivating your team always begins with getting yourself enthused about the project. You should consider keeping a project diary, make sure that you leave any outside negativities at the door when you get to work, and you should keep your tasks tracked in a daily to-do list. It is also wise to look for positive aspects in any negative news you receive.

people seeking a promotion as a project manager


To round up, let’s take a look at a few other steps you can take in order to get promoted as a project manager. This includes the following:

  1. Set a promotion goal. What are you hoping to achieve? Do you want to take on some of the more complex and higher budget projects at the business? Do you want more money? Do you want to move to another department?
  2. Ask five knowledgeable people for advice. This is one of the best ways to network and get ahead. Before asking, make sure you do your homework first and stick to one question per person.
  3. Hunt for problems to solve and solve them. Of course, there will be problems on individual projects, but this also relates to the business on a whole.

So, there you have it: the ultimate guide to securing a project management promotion. If you follow the advice that has been presented above, you should put yourself in the best position for securing a promotion at the business you currently work for. Do not underestimate the importance of actually letting your boss know that you want to be promoted. It may be as simple as them not even realising that you want to take your career to the next level. A lot of bosses assume that their employees are happy in their roles until they tell them otherwise. Don’t miss out on promotional opportunities because you haven’t spoken up. However, if you feel you’ve done all of the things above and you’re still being overlooked, it might be time to start looking for a new opportunity elsewhere.

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