Passed Over for a Promotion? The Best Path Forward for Disappointed Employees and Organizations

August 9, 2011 at 12:24 am 2 comments

“Sorry, we decided to hire someone from the outside for this position.” Chances are if you have been in the workforce for a number of years, you have experienced the bitter pill of being passed over for a promotion you thought you had locked up. Once you take the time to cool off and grieve over the career disappointment, what you do next can affect the future trajectory of your career and professional development. Organizations also need to be aware of the repercussions and effectively deal with issues of employee morale after passing over a long-term employee in good standing.

When a passed over employee asks why? Company executives need to be prepared with constructive responses to help employees understand and accept the decision-making that led to an outside hire or choosing a competing internal candidate. The reasoning is best if it is quantifiable and based on objective measures. Explanations like “You are not ready” simply don’t provide the substance and details that can be useful.

If an organization can’t offer an explanation based on company goals, needs, policies and its defined criteria for success, it’s time to beef up its 360-degree feedback mechanisms. A check on how these messages are communicated and the clarity by which employees know what is expected of them is also worthwhile. Otherwise, an organization may experience problems, due to employee resentment, poor morale and the loss of trained team members with valuable institutional knowledge, who jump ship to pursue better opportunities.

Conduct an Honest Self-Evaluation

After taking the time to lick their wounds, passed over employees need to take the time to conduct a thorough and honest self-evaluation of their skills, accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps losing the promotion had absolutely nothing to do with your skills and performance and had everything to do with office politics. If this is the case, and you determine it’s impossible to overcome it’s best to know now and use this professional bump in the road as a career wake up call and an opportunity to pursue different opportunities.

You should also determine if you are as good as you think you are. Have you miscalculated your chances for promotion? Are you too focused on your duties and responsibilities, as opposed to your actual performance and measurable accomplishments? Do you lack the leadership and team-building skills that the higher-level position requires? Do you lack certain technical skills or an advanced degree that the company prefers for the position?

Request a Meeting With Your Supervisor

After conducting a calm and objective post-mortem, request a meeting with your supervisor to determine why you were passed over for the promotion. Oftentimes, managers feeling a sense of guilt are reluctant to deliver a hard, cold assessment after an employee has just experienced a huge disappointment. However, if you request constructive feedback, you just might get it, and it may be the best thing that ever happened to you professionally. Knowing how the higher-ups in an organization view you is invaluable, whether you decide to leave the company or not. If you decide to stay, take charge of your own career and create an individual development plan, and ask your supervisor for help, guidance and support in implementing it. This is the best way to impress your supervisors and set the stage for a future promotion.

Organizations Should Have a Constructive Feedback Structure

Organizations can also learn from the internal conflicts and struggles that can occur after an employee is passed over for a promotion. Regular and constructive feedback is vital for employees’ professional and personal development. If an organization’s current employee evaluation system is contributing towards employees misreading or  miscalculating where they stand, perhaps it’s time to improve it. Both the employee and the organization stand to benefit from clearly defined lines of communications, clear expectations, goal setting, succession planning and the company’s criteria for success. 

Strengthening employee feedback policies will help place organizations and their employees on the path to success. It is a most basic and simple principle of human behavior that unambiguous, explicit feedback leads to the greatest impact on behavior. Don’t we all like to know hear what others think about us? How they see us? Usually it is these simplest of ideas that can be the most challenging to execute!


Entry filed under: Business, Recruiting.

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  • 1. Anonymous  |  August 16, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Here is what I think anyone needs to do that has been passed for a promotion. If it bothers you that much, you won’t calm down. Go get something bigger and better. Believe in yourself and you can do it. I was passed twice for a promotion to a manager in two different firms as they thought “she would do just about anything”. I was 6 years with the first firm. I gave the first one 2 years to get me there and it didn’t happen. I made a move to a new company with promise that next year round I’ll be promoted. As soon as my boss said, I’m sorry I can’t give you that. I was online searching. I got the manager position not in better but in the top#1 firm in the industry with 10% raise. Their mouth dropped. It was all BS. They were all “oh you’re technical but your personality blah blah”. It’s simple, I didn’t kiss ass. Guess what, I’m so happy I never got the promotion where I was because I won’t have to work with those condenscending people any longer. No less they had guts to tell me it’s my accent, even though the client surveys came back with just about 100% positive feedback about me. I can ever sue them for it but they are not worth it. They never thought I would leave because they saw me as a weak and unambitious person. They are so freaked out about what to tell the clients about me leaving and my heart is full of joy!!! All my co-workers that saw what happened to me congratulated me with a huge smile. Feels great when you have the final say 🙂 Just be proud and believe in yourself. Don’t even let them phase you. Show them you are worth it. Don’t wait for them to see it because they never will.

  • 2. google  |  August 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I liked your article is an interesting technology
    thanks to google I found you


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