You did everything right (at least in your opinion). You were accessible, you met every deadline, you handled every task exceptionally well and even singlehandedly boosted the company’s bottom line. The promotion you’ve been working like a dog for should be yours, but tragically it goes to that @ss kissing, lowlife office “bag man”.
Before you give your boss the metaphorical middle finger as you storm out of the office en route to your new gig, take a deep breath. Perhaps your hobbies were too odd, your hairstyle was too 1985 and you were too quiet in meetings. Or maybe you didn’t gossip enough (what?!).
Bottom-line: You can continue to drown yourself in tears with Katy Perry’s ‘The One That Got Away’ looping in the background, or ditch your rose-tinted glasses and take a long, hard look at the potential reasons of how and where it all went south.
#1. You were too modest.
Bear in mind that an internal promotion is like a sales meeting, and you’re the product. If you fail to convince your superior(s) why you deserve the position – why they should roll in more moolah to your bank account, entrust you with additional responsibilities, vouch for your future performance – they’re going to go with a competitor.
What you can do is prepare a mental list of things you personally have brought to the company. Be it through linking your past experiences to your current role, redesigning a procedure for efficiency or productivity, or just plain numbers that show your contribution to the company’s bottom line, play up all your achievements, big and small.
#2. You weren’t modest enough.
Yup, it swings both ways. Face it, no one likes a braggart. Even after your superiors already know that you’ve positively contributed to the company, don’t let it slip your mind that these same people will be your future peers – and they all need to know you’re a team player.
If you take credit for things that aren’t yours – or even take solo credit when it was a team effort – oh trust us, you’ll find that you’ve made adversaries out of your team mates faster than you can say “mommy”.
Highlighting your impact on the company is good, but be gracious and give credit to those who’ve assisted you in achieving those goals. They deserve it and it’s the ethical thing to do.
#3. You played office politics.
Office politics – whether in the form of nepotism, passive-aggressive revenge or something we’ve all been guilty of, vaguebooking (yes sir, the intentionally vague Facebook status update that prompts your friends to ask what’s going on) – is obviously a deal breaker if someone on the other side of the table comes off worse for wear. Also, beware that allies and so-called friends don’t necessarily have your back either.
As long as you’re in a subordinate role, you wouldn’t want your “loyalty” to be doubted. Our dua sen? Focus on your work than risk getting mangled in the rumor mill.
#4. You didn’t play office politics.
No, we’re not kidding. This usually gets lumped in with not being a team player, but really, this is more about picking your battles. While the office rule may be 15-minute breaks, there’s no need to tattle to HR if someone occasionally stretches it a few extra minutes.
Similarly, making a point of greeting your boss’s spouse with a warm smile or remembering your colleague’s birthday can go a long way towards good career karma. And no, we are not advocating a shameless guide to @ss kissing. You get what you give, right?
#5. You don’t take feedback well.
Let’s be frank, we doubt there isn’t a single soul that hasn’t struggled to keep his/her composure when shot with “constructive” criticism (as Zen as we tend to perceive ourselves to be).
As clichéd as it sounds, feedback is NOT always a bad thing. Is it possible that your boss has some valid points? Chances are, along with the feedback given, your superior will also spare some tips on improving your performance – and this is good information to have when you’re gunning for a promotion.
The next time you receive feedback (be it in your review or in the pantry), resist the urge to go on the defensive. Instead, try to take it in and see what you can learn from it.
#6. You lack professionalism.
Now that you are climbing up the career ladder, guess what, you’ll have to conduct yourself more professionally whether you like it or not – and not just when your boss is looking.
This stretches out across various contexts – from an inability to maintain confidentiality to your guilty participation in destructive office gossip. Similarly, how you behave in the company of co-workers is just as crucial (if not more) as how you behave around higher-ups.
You are certainly free to identify problems (in fact, you should) within your department and company, but you should not conduct a long-winded sermon about those problems in the break room.While you think you’re only exercising your freedom of speech, it really just sends off the impression that you’re looking for an audience, instead of a solution.
#7. You expect it.
Bye-bye seniority, hello 21st century! It’s a fact that in today’s corporate environment, tenure is no longer the primary factor in promotion decisions and is best left out of any arguments you might make on your own behalf.
That being said, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been part of the “family” for six months or six years – it’s all about your contribution and your attitude.
#8. You’re deciphering this list instead of finding out why.
So you didn’t get the promotion. Maybe it’s for a reason on this list. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you don’t smile enough and people don’t like you. Or you smile too much and people don’t take you seriously.
Maybe someone’s nephew got it, or maybe they know something better is coming down the pipeline that you’d be better suited for.
Either way, your best bet at figuring out why you lost that promotion is to talk to the people who made the decision, a.k.a. your boss/superior/supervisor. Be sure to frame the question in a positive light (How can I improve?) rather than a negative or confrontational approach (Why didn’t I get the job?).