What should you do if you didn't get promoted?
You’ve done all of the right things and followed all of the right steps. You walked out of the interview confidently, absolutely sure that the promotion was yours - after all who else would they choose? And then the blow comes. Your boss lets you know that while they really appreciate your hard work and dedication, someone else has been given the promotion. Is this the time to throw in the towel? Leave the company? I suggest holding your horses and considering the following:
1. You have the right to be upset and angry.
Most people don’t realize how important it is to acknowledge your feelings. Without processing this kind of let down, you won’t be equipped to move on to other career advancement solutions - either at your present job or if you decide to apply for a role elsewhere. Until you can face your disappointment as an honest, legitimate emotion, it will be very difficult for you to concentrate your energies on that next promotion or job opportunity.
2. Understand that it’s not personal.
Many middle managers take rejections personally. Unless you really do have a personal issue with your boss (in which case you would’ve known that a promotion was unlikely), the reason for the rejection is probably beyond your control. Indeed, you’ve performed well and are well-respected by your colleagues - very key to promoting any career advancement solutions. But perhaps there are other reasons you don’t know about that were taken into consideration.
3. Do the research.
Just because you don’t know the reason you were rejected doesn’t mean that the situation is completely out of your hands. Once you’ve regained your poise, it’s time to schedule a meeting with your boss to find out the specific reasons you were rejected. You’ll be surprised to find out that there are concrete steps you can take towards your next promotion while at the same time improving your own competencies. An added bonus will be that your boss will see how serious you are about the next promotion opportunity and that you’re willing to do what it takes to achieve it.
4. Ask around.
While the grapevine isn’t always the most reliable form of information, doing a bit of asking around might help you complete the picture in terms of the reasons behind your rejection. Are you possibly perceived differently by others than what you think? Is there some kind of hidden quality you haven’t recognized in the person who did get the promotion? Finding these things out will help you map the interpersonal skills you’ll want to improve on as you work towards the next promotion.
Getting rejected for a promotion is a very huge let down. The question is if you are willing to put in the effort to prevent it from happening again. While my advice above is targeted towards middle managers who want to remain at their current company, they are applicable to those who might decide to leave their current role and apply for positions at other companies. Whichever path you choose, I wish you luck and success.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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