Getting Turned Down for Promotion? Here’s What to Do

Getting Turned Down for Promotion? Here’s What to Do

Establish advancing within your company as a long-term goal and work toward it every day despite rejection.

Many people push themselves beyond their limits at work to receive a promotion. Indeed, a promotion comes with numerous benefits, like more opportunities to develop new skills and make key decisions for your company. If you’re more interest-minded, you may desire a promotion because it is typically accompanied by a raise, though 39% of employers commonly offer promotions without salary increases.

Whatever the reason may be, there might be a chance that you apply for a promotion only to be denied. It can be challenging to bounce back after rejections like this, but with the right approach, you can get back on track and start anew.

Contact your manager for feedback

It’s natural for you to feel compelled to leave your manager’s room after being turned down for a promotion. No one wants to face failure like this for a second longer. But, in the workplace, an ungracious departure from your manager’s room will not only spoil your image, but you will also forfeit the opportunity to obtain valuable feedback. So, instead of allowing failure to drive you over the edge, schedule a meeting with your manager and have an in-depth discussion about your career.

In case you’re not ready to talk to your manager the very same day after the rejection, do it the next day. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself time and space to process disappointment. Despite that, don’t leave it until next week because your manager might assume you already understand why you weren’t promoted, and you know how to proceed.

Quite possibly, since you’re reading this article, you don’t know what to do when a promotion is denied. You should therefore discuss your prospects with your manager, which may help you better prepare yourself before seeking a promotion again.

While talking to your manager is an effective way to figure out why you didn’t receive the promotion, you shouldn’t raise it with the higher-ups. Since they don’t work closely with you, they can’t provide as helpful feedback as your manager. Plus, unless they are involved in making promotion decisions, approaching them won’t get you very far.

Review your promotion request

Self-reflection is always critical in the aftermath of failure. Taking a closer look at your promotion request may provide you with insight into why your application was unsuccessful. Companies typically factor in budget limitations, staffing levels, job tenure and working experience when making promotion decisions. In light of this, if you’re requesting a promotion as a new hire, the odds of you earning the promotion are slim. Being rejected for a promotion does not necessarily mean you’re incapable, but if you’re constantly engaged in quiet quitting, why you didn’t get the promotion should be obvious.

Though making unrealistic promotion requests is not ideal, you don’t need to feel ashamed because of this. After all, who doesn’t want a promotion? However, before requesting one, be sure to identify your strengths and everything that sets you apart from your colleagues, who are your potential competitors. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t treat your coworkers as enemies because maintaining positive collaborative relationships is vital.

Plan your career

Singer-songwriter John Lennon once sang: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” No doubt, this is a wise quote to live by. But sometimes, planning is integral. If you stay stuck in the moment and keep reminding yourself that you failed to get a promotion instead of taking steps toward improving yourself, you can end up feeling lost on your career path. Career planning is therefore crucial.

Planning your career is certainly easier said than done. But with the right approach, you can map out your future. George T. Doran, a consultant and former director of corporate planning for Washington Waterpower Company, published a paper titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives” in 1981. In his paper, Doran outlined that goals should be S.M.A.R.T., an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. These adjectives are self-explanatory, but here’s a quick example illustrating how this model works.

As we’re talking about getting a promotion, your goal is obviously to “get a promotion”. There’s no way for us to measure this goal. Still, if you figure out what your manager is looking for in promoting candidates after an in-depth discussion, you can make your goal measurable. You can do so by setting some quantifiable short-term goals, such as “increase sales by 15%” or “add five more clients to my current client base”. Working according to a solid plan will not only help you keep track of your progress toward your goal but also ensure that your goal is attainable.

Finally, make sure you set a deadline for achieving the goal, even if it’s just an approximate time frame. Be realistic—don’t put down “one week”.

Remain professional and resilient

Being passed over for a promotion is disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. Life carries on, and you still have to work. If you find yourself down in the dumps, get in touch with your family and friends. Unless you know your colleagues will hold their cards close to their chests, avoid grumbling at them since your words could end up in the wrong ears. Bringing up your frustration in front of your manager or supervisor after obtaining feedback is also a no-go, as they may think you’re upset with their decisions or want to stir things up.

Rather than ruining your professional workplace persona with things that may undermine it, work harder. Your input is worth a thousand words. Your manager will see the potential and resilience in you, which will present you as an ideal candidate for your next promotion attempt.

The bottom line: know when to call it quits

Remaining professional and working hard may bring you closer to success, but no one has a crystal ball. It’s always possible that you might be rejected again. If you can’t envision your career’s future in your current company, you can always quit and turn the page. But before you hand in your resignation, make sure you have a clear career plan in your pocket that can make you thrive again.

There is never an easy path to earning a promotion. Before you receive one, equip yourself with more skills and capabilities. When the chances come, they’ll favor prepared minds like you. On the other hand, although you can benefit a lot from a promotion, you shouldn’t view it as the only motivator for work since it is your enthusiasm that will ensure long-term excellence.

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