Posted in Career Best Practices
That shiny promotion you set your sights on – that amazing opportunity for more money, challenge and growth?
It just went to someone else.
Naturally, you're disheartened. Frustrated. Maybe even a little confused. What did your co-worker have or do that earned them the thumbs-up? And why were you passed over? Here are a few of the most common culprits, which may or may not apply to your circumstances:
Whether they're hard skills gaps, lack of licensing/certification, or soft skills shortfalls, a misalignment between an employee's skills/experience/personality and the available role can keep them from moving up.
Difficult to manage.
Individuals who get defensive when presented with constructive criticism are not prime candidates for professional development. Likewise, managers hesitate to give more responsibility to employees who are negative, confrontational, dismissive of others' ideas or simply hard to get along with.
Lack of professionalism.
It's no surprise, really: people who show up late, use vulgar language, leave early, gossip or spend work time on personal business are less likely to get promoted. On the other hand, employees who are diligent, responsible and flexible are on managers' radar for the right reasons – and are the most likely to get ahead.
Lack of initiative.
Doing one's job adequately may be enough to keep it – but it's seldom enough to merit advancement. Employees who volunteer for stretch assignments, tackle jobs nobody else wants to do, and look for solutions business problems set themselves apart as leaders – and put themselves in prime position for promotions.
There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance; Individuals who behave as if their promotion is inevitable, simply because they've "paid their dues," may actually irritate decision makers and sabotage their own advancement. Characteristics such as humility, a solid work ethic, and a focus on growth, however, are a winning combination for individuals who want to level up.
Honestly, these are just a few of the dozens of potential reasons you may have been passed over; only you can decide if they're relevant to you. But if you do get turned down for a promotion:
- Try to be objective and stay positive. Do a little introspection to see if you can figure out where things went wrong.
- Gather others' perspectives, to see if your self-evaluation aligns with what co-workers and other supervisors think.
- Ask for a meeting with your manager to discuss the reasons you didn't land the promotion. Let them know that you're interested in moving up, and ask for advice for how to do that.
- Be graceful to the person who did earn the promotion. In the long run, supporting others' success will build your professional reputation internally.
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