So you have a boss who’s long on promises and short on delivery. Yup, that promotion is just around the corner, that raise is happening any time now, and you’re just about to get to work on that cool project. Only these things somehow never seem to happen. What do you do?

The first step is to determine whether your boss is well-intended or just trying to manipulate you. It could very well be that your boss indeed wants to give you all these things, but situations keep coming up that prevent him (her) from doing it. It could be budget issues, timing issues or maybe he is being overruled by someone above him. Or, on the darker side, the boss may simply be dangling a fictitious carrot in front of you to keep you in line.

The best approach is to stop trying to read between the lines or guess at your boss’s motivations, and just have a conversation with him. It doesn’t have to be confrontational, but it does have to be fairly direct.

In a private setting, let him know what your concerns are. Something like, “Hey boss, you’ve been talking about giving me that promotion for some time now, and I’m wondering why it hasn’t come. Is it something I’m doing – or not doing – that’s preventing it from happening?” Listen carefully to the answer. If he is able to give you what appears to be a reasonable answer, give him the benefit of the doubt. If, on the other hand, his answer is vague or non-committal, your spidey-sense should start to tingle, and you should ask some more questions to try and pin him down. If you can’t, then you may want to prepare yourself for the reality that things really aren’t likely to change.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. Most bosses want to do the right thing and appreciate your honesty. Don’t assume that ‘he should know how I’m feeling.’ That’s not a fair position to put anyone in.

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