You’ve been waiting for the creative director to promote you to senior graphic designer. Business is growing, and you’ve certainly paid your dues. Everything seems right. But you discover a colleague was given the opportunity to move up instead of you. What now?
The following tips can help you learn from the setback and increase your chances of landing a promotion in the future.
Take a Breather
It’s perfectly normal to feel frustrated and angry after a missed promotion — just make sure to express these sentiments outside of work. Running to your boss and demanding that the decision be reconsidered is not a wise move. Instead, reach out to members of your professional network who may have experienced similar setbacks, and seek support from friends and family for help managing your grief.
Take the High Road
No matter how you feel, demonstrate your professionalism by congratulating the individual who was awarded the position and continuing to work hard in your current role. Remember that a wide range of factors can influence promotion decisions, including internal politics or job requirements that you were unaware of.
Get the Facts
After you’ve had a chance to cool off, schedule a meeting with your manager and ask for an honest explanation of the decision. Find out why you didn’t get the job and how seriously you were considered for it. You may discover that the position required expertise that you lack, like leadership skills or HTML5 proficiency.
Work with Your Boss to Create a Plan
Before the meeting is over, ask your manager what you can do to earn a promotion in the future. Get a clear idea of the steps you must take to reach the next level and what the timeframe for doing so might be. After speaking with your boss, you may even realize a promotion isn’t the best move for you. Perhaps the responsibilities are different than you imagined, or you’re unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to your work/life balance. Consider why you wanted the promotion in the first place. You might need to reassess your career goals or look for other ways to achieve them.
Increase Your Visibility
No matter what you decide to do, remember that hard work and excellent reviews aren’t always enough to get ahead. It’s crucial that your colleagues, and especially your manager, know the value you bring to the firm. Provide your boss with regular status updates so he or she is aware of your accomplishments. Other simple steps, like speaking up during meetings and networking with others throughout the organization, can help you establish a solid reputation.
While missing out on a promotion is disappointing, there may be an upside: You may emerge from the situation with a clearer sense of where you want to go, as well as how to get there. However, if your manager’s explanation for the missed promotion seems arbitrary or unfair — or you take all the necessary steps to prepare for a step up and are passed over again — you may decide to seek employment elsewhere. You don’t want to spend years treading water at a company that stymies your long-term career goals.
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