The Jefferson Group

No promotion? No problem: Four steps to getting back on track

"Don't let your disappointment lead to stagnancy", says Tom Howe, managing partner, The Jefferson Group, in this article on what to do if you didn't get the promotion you wanted.

No promotion? No problem: Four steps to getting back on track

So, you didn’t get the promotion.

After months of your best efforts, interviews and attempts to impress your co-workers, you’ve faltered at the final hurdle. We won’t lie – it sucks. And so does seeing the higher wage, enhanced opportunities and increased responsibilities slip out the door.

But don’t let your disappointment lead to stagnancy; there are still steps you can take. Be emboldened by the words of the late, great, literary patron saint of failure, Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried, ever failed, no matter – try again, fail again, fail better."

Once you’ve licked your wounds, it’s time to take action. Here are four positives steps you can take to get back on track.

Find out why

The truth might hurt, temporarily, but it will make you stronger. The only way you can learn from your failures is if you know where you went wrong, so do ask for feedback. Ensure that you frame your request in a non-confrontational manner and be clear that you’re not challenging the decision.

Do, however, ask for advice on how you could perform better the next time an opportunity arises and whether there is anything you can work on personally in the meantime. Not only will this illustrate to your superiors that you’re proactive and eager to improve, but if the advice is good, it can essentially act as a cheat sheet for when you next try for a promotion.

Remain calm and collected

Learning to accept and act on criticism is an art form many of us are still mastering. However, throwing your toys out of the professional pram can have far-reaching consequences for your career.

Even if you feel that you’ve been slighted or unfairly passed over, remain calm, courteous and open to reasoning. And on that note…

Don’t take it out on the one who was chosen

No one likes a sore loser and getting angry at whoever was chosen is a fool’s errand. You may temporarily feel better, but it won’t last. As Amy Poehler said: "Rooting for other people’s failure does get in the way of your success," and it makes enemies. No one builds a career on their own and if you’re someone who lets their bitterness usurp their ability to collaborate, you may find yourself relegated to the back of the office, alone and overlooked for any future roles.

When you learn to bask in other people’s successes and not take their achievements as a comment on your own, you’ll not only be a better co-worker – you’ll be a happier person in general. After all, kindness may take longer, but it gets you further.

Explore new opportunities

Obviously, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by immediately handing in your notice out of anger. Yet, there is definitely a case for looking for other opportunities on the sly if you feel you can’t progress any further in your current company.

Don’t lash out or burn bridges with your current employers, and definitely don’t complain to potential ones that you’re leaving because you didn’t get a promotion. Keep your head down and start browsing job boards – psst like ours here – a new, more deserving opportunity will come-a-knocking in no time.

Find a new job opportunity with The Jefferson Group