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Movin’ On Up?


“This is the year I’m getting that promotion.”

After hanging on to that job for the last two years while doing ‘more with less,’ seeing coworkers get laid off, and watching the little extras around the workplace go by the wayside, the news is finally encouraging. And many professionals are setting their sights on advancing their careers.

Most employers can, will, and do dangle promotions in front of employees to get them to perform at the highest level possible without having to fork out more money. That’s simply the reality of the workplace. They can always find someone who is eager to apply for a promotion.

I’d like to share some things I’ve observed about how people handle the experience of disappointment.

How you handle the frustration is as important as your ability to celebrate your success. Sulking, moping, and hostility reflect badly and has a tendency to create a poor image. The ability to take disappointment in stride and move forward is a trait most employers look for in valuable performers.

One strategy to safeguard you from too much public embarrassment is to not share your plans with everyone. Don’t announce to anyone who will listen that you think you are perfect for the promotion for which you are applying. You set yourself up for some awkward conversations later. I’ve observed the impact – employees talking angrily to staff, employees, even executives; brooding; noncompliance, or sarcasm. Many indicate that they can’t rebound. They focus on the fact that they didn’t get the promotion, not what skills they need in order to prepare for the next possibility. The longer the carping goes on, the more likely it is that future promotion chances fade. When someone doesn’t get the promotion, how they handle it is often observed by the very people who will make the next promotion decision.

Some ideas about what you can do to help you rebound from disappointment with grace:

UPBEAT – Listen to your words and watch your behaviors. Most people do not want to work with people who gripe. They prefer to work alongside of people who look for solutions, develop a team spirit and focus forward. Yes, it’s challenging in tough times. But that’s what leaders look want to see.

NETWORK – The more people who know you and the talents you bring to the job, the better. Include people in your network who are different from you: other departments, different ages, and a variety of backgrounds. Look for common bonds and enlist them as professional allies.

 FEEDBACK – Ask for information that will help you improve and grow in areas where you are seen as needing development. Not doing anything to address this will hurt you the next time you go for a promotion.  Ask people how they see you and what you need to do to be seen as a stronger candidate. Then – do those things!

MENTOR – Seek out a mentor you can trust to provide honest feedback on how you need to develop within your organization. Be open to different opportunities that they may suggest.

MOVE – If making a move laterally, or taking on a new project will develop new skills, seriously consider it. It shows others you can drop the ego and focus on learning.

Ultimately, a person has choices when they are frustrated about not getting that promotion:

  • They can leave, find another employer and start all over again, building a reputation and at some point, going for another promotion cycle at a new place.
  • They can stick it out where they are, do want is required to prove they are worth promoting and getting more responsibility and money.
  • They can sulk, stuck in the discontent of not getting what they wanted.

Promotions don’t always happen when you want them to. Forget about what you were told, promised, or assured. Unless it’s in writing, it means almost nothing.  Things change – sometimes in your favor, sometimes not.  Rather than focus on the promotion that someone else got, try to concentrate on what you’re doing.

And be patient.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 11:09 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.