Being passed up for a promotion is extremely painful. You think you’ve been working hard to move up the professional ladder only to feel invalidated at the workplace.
But – like all other bitter experiences in life – it’s important not to let an episode like this overwhelm you. Use it as a trigger to take a long hard look at yourself. Objectively analyze why it happened and what you can do to change the situation. Anger, frustration and disappointment are natural but don’t let these emotions get the better of you.
Here’s what you can do to ensure that you deal with the situation in a mature manner.
Acting in haste is a recipe for disaster. Resist the temptation to walk into your boss’s cabin. Demanding answers, talking ill about a colleague who’s been promoted or snapping at colleagues isn’t a professional’s reaction. You will damage relations and be branded immature and unable to handle anxiety. Think calmly and go over all facets of the episode over the next couple of weeks. Only then will you be able to formulate a sensible plan of action.
It is hard to conduct an honest assessment of yourself so ask others why they think you were passed over. Speaking to the boss is a good idea. Express disappointment but never be rude or offensive. Be open to criticism; don’t get on the defensive. Ask what you can do to achieve the promotion next year and enlist your boss’ help to reach your goal. Use this opportunity to learn about your organization’s policy on promotions so that you can do better next time.
Speak to the senior manager
Office politics is a reality and there may be the odd chance that you’ve been glossed over because your immediate superior sees you as a threat. If you suspect this, speaking to that person won’t help. Seek an appointment with your manager’s superior and have a frank discussion about why you were overlooked. But keep things civil.
Factor in other reasons
A missed promotion is not always a judgment of your professional abilities. You may have lost it because of a host of reasons beyond your control such as a specific company policy or the nature of your job. For example, a sales executive will have greater direct impact on the company’s P&L than an HR executive, thus increasing the former’s shot at a promotion. Get to the reason and don’t be unreasonably hard on yourself.
Be graceful in defeat
Don’t vent your anger on colleagues or subordinates and always be courteous to your boss. If a colleague has landed the position you were vying for, congratulate that person and offer your cooperation. Life is full of victories and defeats; graceful acceptance of defeat is a sign of maturity and refinement.
Explore your options
It is a good idea to start exploring other options. Update your CV and start sending it out. This will give you a much-needed confidence boost and provide you with a back-up plan in case you’re really unhappy. However, never quit without an appointment letter in hand.
Being overlooked for a promotion isn’t the end of the world. Don’t react in anger; choose to look inwards and contemplate. Once you’ve thought things over, speak to your boss and find out the reasons for being overlooked. Enlist his or her help to address your shortcomings. Through it all, remain polite and courteous. This is a good time to update your skills and ready a Plan B. If you do decide to quit, never do it without an appointment letter from another company.