1. You are lousy in your work
Let's start with the basics, you are not going to get promoted if you are not already good at your current job.
Committing mistakes, missing deadlines, etc.
You need to nail that part first before you even think of moving up through the ranks.
That might seem obvious but still overlooked by many.
2. You don't take ownership or initiatives
Being passive is not a good strategy if you are trying to get promoted.
In 99% of the cases, a promotion implies higher responsibilities.
You need to show your employers that you are ready to take ownership of projects and oversee them from start to finish.
It doesn't have to be a full-scale project. It can be just about anything outside the scope of your current role.
Talk to your manager and ask them to let you be the owner of a task, a process, or a project.
3. You play dirty politics
There is no denying that a lot of politics are going on in the corporate world and indeed one can progress by playing games and manipulating others, but the success rate of such tactics is much less than just doing impressive work and not sabotaging others.
Not only dirty politics is unethical but it can actually backfire and you might find yourself stuck in your current position if the people in power change.
4. You stab others in the back
Stay away from anything negative I say. First, because it is unethical, and second because you really don't know who is a friend of whom and who hates whom.
Even if you were to succeed and get promoted by sabotaging others, there is no guarantee that you can maintain your new position.
If you work in an organization where stabbing others can work, then the same can happen to you at some point and you might even find yourself out of the company.
Mind others and just focus on yourself.
5. You don't have the skills
A higher position most likely requires additional or different skillsets than what you have now.
For example, the position of a finance manager may require an MBA degree. If you are currently working as a finance supervisor and don't have an MBA degree then you are going to find it extremely difficult to progress.
Another example is a project coordinator aspiring to become a project manager, a job that most likely requires some Project Management certification. If he doesn't have one, then progress will be impossible.
Do you know what skill sets are required for your target position? If not, do research and find out what those skillsets are. Once you do, start working on developing these skills right now.
Don't wait till you get promoted to acquire those skills. Acquiring them is an essential part of getting that promotion in the first place.
6. You don't have management skills
Most promotions require some knowledge of management whether it is managing people, managing projects, managing resources, or managing time.
You need to start developing managerial skills and demonstrate the usage of those skills to your supervisors in every possible chance.
Sounds difficult? Not really. Learning how to manage stuff is simple and straightforward. The amount of free information about the topic is unlimited.
7. Your communication skills are poor
Whether you like it or not, the more you progress throughout the ranks the more your communication skills become important and the less your technical skills become relevant.
If you really want to push your way to the top you need to work on your communications both written and verbal.
Written is especially important as in writing professional emails. See below articles on how to write better emails.
8. You are not aggressive enough
Does any of the below statements describe you?
You don't like to be pushy.
You don't like to ask for things.
You don't like to step on others.
You think that people who force their way up are ***holes.
You think that if you deserve a promotion then your superiors will notice and grant it to you.
You believe that hard work is always rewarded.
You prefer to wait for the promotion.
If you answered yes to any of these questions then I'm sorry to inform you that this way of thinking will not get you far or it will make your progress incredibly slow.
If you really believe that you deserve a promotion then you have to fight for it and there is nothing wrong with that.
Show your employers that you are ready for the next level.
Make your intentions clear.
Show your interest in a bigger role.
Ask for it.
Even if you work for a company that has periodic performance reviews and systematic evaluations, you still need to push for that promotion and make your intentions very clear.
9. You don't know how to showcase your work
If you are doing an amazing job but no one notices then your efforts are unfortunately wasted.
Unfair? Yes, I know but this is how the world works.
Send weekly and monthly progress reports to your superiors. Make nice colorful presentations to showcase your achievements.
You will achieve the best results if you can somehow quantify your efforts by numbers. Instead of "I finished the project earlier than planned" say "I finished the project 20 days before the deadline and thus saved us $5000."
10. You think you will get promoted for your potential
It happens but very rarely.
Just because you have what it takes to be at the next level doesn't mean that you will get there.
Your promotion needs to be justified by accomplishments that benefit the company like generating revenue, saving costs, improving operations, or delivering any measurable results.
11. You don't speak at meetings
Staying silent in meetings and being passive overall could be interpreted as a lack of confidence.
Your superiors need to see the confidence in you and feel secure about handing over a bigger role.
12. You are too agreeable
You don't want to be seen as someone who does what they are told.
It is very important to have a voice, an opinion, a take on the different work-related issues.
If you are going to say "Yes, sir" to every little thing then others will think that you are not capable of reasoning and cannot be dependent.
Don't be scared to differ with the views of your manager. Be expressive and say what you really think.
13. You complain a lot
This may seem to contradict the previous tip "Being too agreeable", but not really.
While you should disagree with others occasionally you should not debate every little thing.
Use your common sense to draw a line between what needs to be challenged and what needs to be taken for granted.
14. You only tell good news
Reporting only good news all the time might register with your employers as a sign of dishonesty, lack of transparency, or lack of awareness.
Bad things can happen and will happen and you should be transparent about that. Your supervisors will appreciate the honesty.
Also, be expressive about the things that can go wrong. Managing and predicting risks is a clear sign of corporate maturity and a persistent leadership trait.
15. You separate yourself from others
Coming to the office every day and just finishing your work will not do it if you want a promotion.
You need to be active among others socially.
You need to be known and remembered by your superiors. If you are going to hide under a rock, no one will remember you when shortlisting names for the next promotion.
Make sure that you are always fresh in people's minds.