We’ve been talking promotions these past few weeks.

You may not always get the promotion, so today we’re going to talk about some steps you can take to move forward through the grief and disappointment you may feel in response.

The truth is that it doesn’t feel good to be passed over for a role that you want. You’ve worked hard, you prepared for your meetings, you thought about how you’re a solution and communicated it with your company, and they still put someone else in that position. Let’s face it—it sucks!

So, what should you do when you’ve been passed over for that promotion?

Pause (and feel your emotions):
  • Allow yourself to feel your emotions, honor what you feel, and manage their intensity so they don’t overwhelm you.
  • This kind of a loss evokes grief and when grieving you might feel anger, sadness, self-doubt, or frustration—any or all of these emotions are sane and normal responses to this kind of a loss.
Acknowledge and Name Your Experience:
  • Acknowledging and naming your emotions will help you to honor your experience and help you not let the feelings stop you from moving forward.
  • Take some time to reflect on your experience and think about what you did that you were proud of.
    • Were you well prepared and at ease in talking about your skills and how you’re a solution?
    • Did you have two-way conversations with management with confidence and professionalism?
    • It’s important to not lose sight of your successes as you experience this loss.
  • Take some time to think about what you’d do differently.
    • Did you approach the promotion by telling them what you’d do in a way that was critical about what’s been done?
    • Did you understate your confidence in your ability to contribute?
  • Think of the whole process as a learning opportunity that will make you into an even better candidate the next time around.
    • Were you given any feedback of action items or areas for growth if you want to explore this kind of promotion again in the future?
    • Who can you meet with who can support you in exploring opportunities going forward?
  • Once you’re over the most acute pain of the loss, it’s time to focus your efforts and figure out how you want to move forward.
  • Follow up with your manager and the person who made the decision about the promotion and ask them for their input on what you need to do to become a candidate for this level of role in the future.
  • Listen closely, take notes, don’t defend. Gather information for the next step, which is to analyze.
  • Consider the feedback that you got when you followed up with the key decision-makers.
    • What do you agree with? What can you do differently as a result of this information?
    • What do you disagree with? Reflect on why they may think these things of you and if there is something you can do to change their thinking.
  • Make a list of what you loved about this new position. The more detailed you can get here, the better.
  • Think about the parts of the position that you didn’t like. Now is a great time to go back and really reflect on any misgivings you may have had about the position.
  • Create a description of what you want to do for work—not the job title, but the activities of the work that excite you.
  • Reflect on the environment, compensation, schedule, and other details that are important to your work satisfaction.
  • Think about whether or not your current role or a promotion in your current company would fulfill your needs.
Move on:
  • It’s important not to dwell on the loss but to be gentle with yourself if you’re struggling to move forward.
    • If you were talking to someone you cared about who’d gone through this same experience, you wouldn’t say, “Just get over it!” You’d likely say, “I believe in you” and “how can I help you think about what’s next?”
  • Using your analysis above, consider how to move forward.
    • Whether you stay or look for opportunities at another company, try to look at this experience as something that’s pointed you in exactly the direction of where you’d like to go.

There will be many challenges and losses in your life. Learning to honor your feelings and using the experience to guide your efforts forward will help you build resilience and will bring respect from peers and managers.

Using challenges as practice in handling and moving through difficulties will serve you throughout the whole of your life.

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.
– Oprah Winfrey

We’re here for you,

~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

If you’ve been passed over for a promotion
and would like support in moving
through these stages, contact us today.