Promotion denied. What next?
Move forward when you can't move up.
There are few things worse than pursuing a promotion only to be passed over for it. Whatever the reason, it could take you awhile to get over the shock or humiliation you're feeling and to adjust to having a new supervisor, if that's the case.
Follow these three steps to help you move on after you didn't get to move up.
"You have to be great and professional when this happens," says Long Island, New York-based career coach Deborah Brown-Volkman. Even if a much-loathed coworker receives a promotion you'd coveted, extend congratulations to her. Also, offer sincere assurances that you're going to be the same team player you've always been.
Doing your best to support all of your colleagues will only help your professional reputation. A stalwart attitude will deflect any passing pity people may be tempted to feel for you.
"When you're trying to find out what happened, first look inward," Brown-Volkman counsels her clients. "Many times people know why they didn't get a promotion."
After your emotions have settled, set up a meeting with the powers that be to discover why you didn't get the promotion. "People don't like to tell other people the cold hard truth, so you have to give them permission to tell the truth," Brown-Volkman says. She suggests assuring your supervisor and colleagues that there won't be any consequences for being honest. "Tell them, 'This is just for me," she says.
Bring questions to your meeting so you can learn how to overcome any professional shortcomings or lack of specific skills. Ask for suggestions as to how you can better improve your performance. Request specific situations that made your superiors doubt your ability to handle the new position. Try to get your employer to help subsidize some professional-development courses that might improve your performance on the job.
And then, "Start making changes," says Brown-Volkman.
Make your move
After you learn why you didn't get a promotion, you may come to understand that you're not perceived as management material and even the best in-office PR campaign would be futile. To climb to the next notch, you may need to start a job search so you can move on to a new employer.
"If you've given it your best shot and it's going nowhere, it may be that you're just not a fit for that organization," says Brown-Volkman. "Find a place where you do fit."
Employees who have worked for only one company often face a similar predicament. Diversifying your employment experience is a plus, and Brown-Volkman says other companies will value your talents.
"People get stuck in failure," she states. "But you didn't fail. It was a learning experience."