Passed over for promotion? Don't let it get you down

  | James Innes

Being passed over for a promotion can be a demoralising and disappointing experience, especially if you believed that the new job was as good as yours. In the wake of the bad news, it is easy to let your negative emotions get the better of you. Perhaps you are tempted to have it out with your boss or even to start the search for a new job straight away? However, as with most things in life, take time for a little cool reflection being doing anything hasty.

Try and calm down and let the negativity recede, before trying to find out why you didn’t get the job. And when you do try and get feedback, attempt to approach it constructively. Ask about the decision-making process, and also find out what were the skills, experience or accomplishments the successful candidate had over you. Often, employees can be performing very strongly in their current role. But do you have the skills necessary for the next job?

Particularly when moving into a management role, skills may be broader than technical mastery of a job. Soft skills such as diplomacy, conflict resolution, and business communication become at least as important as functional expertise.  Such skills are not innate – they have to be learned, practiced and honed. Many technically gifted individuals never make it to top levels of management because they cannot make the transition from employee to manager. That may not be fair – but life seldom is, unfortunately.

Identify with your manager why you didn’t get the job, where you fell short and how you can do better next time. It may be possible to develop an action plan that will enable you to acquire the skills you currently lack. Your willingness to implement such a plan can only count in your favour.

Of course, if the feedback is honest, there is the risk that you will be told that promotion is out of the question for the immediate future, or that your boss does not see you as management material. If that is the case, and you don’t agree with that assessment, perhaps now is the time to make that career change. After all, another company or organisation may view you in a different light.

Again though, don’t react negatively and hide your disappointment even if you do get negative feedback.  Thank them for their opinion and get on with your plans.

Missing out on a promotion can be a big disappointment, but it can also be a wake-up call for you to develop your skills and all-round management style. Get over the bad news, put your game face on, and try and do better next time – whether it’s with your current employer or with a new job altogether.

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