When You Don’t Get the Promotion

You’ve been preparing for this moment. You have worked hard for a long time to prove yourself worthy, giving it your all. Then, one day the call finally comes, but it wasn’t the one you were expecting. The promotion was given to someone else. You feel disappointed, confused, even angry! This was the job you had spent years preparing for, and now it’s gone.

So now what? Let’s start with what NOT to do.

Three actions to avoid when you don’t get the promotion:

  1. Make sudden decisions: Don’t immediately turn in your resignation or threaten to quit. Panicking (or rash decisions) makes you and everyone around you nervous.
  2. Talk badly about the person who got the job. If the other person isn’t qualified or deserving of the position, there’s no benefit in you pointing that out. And if the other person is qualified and deserving, then talking negatively about them only makes you look bad.
  3. Stop giving your best effort. Your desire to perform and move the organization forward shouldn’t be contingent on whether or not you get your promotion.

 Four actions to live out when you don’t get the promotion:

  1. Reflect and regroup. Why was your colleague selected instead? Unfortunately, sometimes it truly is a political decision. But many times there’s some validity to the decision. Perhaps your colleague is, in fact, more qualified. Perhaps he gets along better with others. Don’t compare yourself to your colleague (that will drive you crazy), but be willing consider the selection from an outsider’s perspective.
  2. Seek to learn. Obviously you weren’t meant to get the job or you’d have it. So, why not? Are you more valuable in your current role? Would you not have been happy in that position long-term? Or is there another path for you that you just can’t see yet?
  3. Keep performing and serving. Just about anyone will work hard and perform if they are guaranteed to be rewarded. It takes special character to swallow one’s pride and to continue performing and serving in the midst of disappointment. How can you support your colleague in their new role? You willingness to help them succeed will be a reflection of your true character.
  4. Set an example. If you thought you’d get the job, some of your colleagues probably did too. Those people are watching you now, and they will bear witness to how you handle this disappointment. What do you want them to tell others about how you handled it?

Whether it’s a missed promotion or a job opportunity that is offered to someone else, we can all expect to deal with situations like this a few times in our professional lives. How we handle them and what we learn from them will make all the difference. Use disappointments as an opportunity to build your character.

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