Whether you asked for a promotion directly and got rejected or just expected one in the new fiscal year - it can be really disheartening if you don’t get it.

Not only are you nursing a bruised ego, you are probably rethinking whether you even what to work for your employer anymore. If they don’t appreciate you enough to give you a promotion, then why should you stay, right? Not necessarily.

If you’re wondering how to react when you didn't get a promotion - take a moment, step away and resist the temptation to throw a hissy fit just yet. Like the Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey clip from Horrible Bosses - provided below for your viewing pleasure - as pleasing as the idea may be in theory, acting out your gut reaction isn’t necessarily the right move. In their case, likely to lead to a stint in prison…

 

 

So, hold off throwing your boss out of the window, peeing on the conference table or [insert your preferred rebellious action here]. Here are a few things to consider and reasons you may not have got the promotion. Do yourself a favour and review your position, so you can get an action plan together and take that next step in your career.

See also: How to write a killer career plan

 

1. Like Jeremy Corbyn’s high five - was your timing off?

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Image source: The Sun

If you haven’t seen the clip of Corbyn’s high five fail yet, then where have you been? Check it out. If he had just announced the high five and got the eye contact, it could have been an epic moment that demonstrated his plight to be ‘down with the kids’. 

As entertaining as this moment is, the point here is that even a well intended action can be a misfire if your timing and positioning is off. 

Unfortunately we don’t always know what’s going on behind the scenes at work. Is your company in a good financial position to give out promotions and pay rises? This is something that your boss might not necessarily admit as the reason behind your lack of promotion, but if you don’t feel comfortable asking for more insight into the current position of the business, then you should be able to pick up on signals. 

Are there disgruntled meetings going on? Does your boss seem particularly pressured? Are the deadlines and targets getting harder to meet? 

If you are pretty certain they have the money, then perhaps you just asked in the wrong way or at the wrong time? For more tips on getting the timing right check out our recent blog on how to ask for a pay rise

See also: Negotiation tips: How to ask for a pay rise

 

2. Blagging or bragging like Kanye: get dem skills and dat pitch

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Image source: Wiki Commons

There are usually three extremes of scenarios - either you’ve been blagging it and you don’t have the right skill set or experience for a promotion, you’ve been over bragging with an inflated ego or, finally, under bragging due to a lack of confidence. Prepare yourself for an old school Blind Date reference - we love you Cilla - the choice is yours...

 

  1. Blagging it - there are times to blag and times not to blag. Getting access to the VIP area is a great occasion to blag, getting a promotion - not so much. Get real with yourself for a moment and consider this - do you really have what it takes for that promotion? It’s sounds harsh, but you would be surprised how many people try and blag a promotion rather than actually build up the relevant skills and experience required. 
  2. Over bragging - don’t do a Kanye and get so self righteous about your worth in the company that you lose grip on reality. You may have out performed your colleagues and made some epic achievements, but the boss hasn’t necessarily had the time or headspace to see beyond your inflated ego. If you lost out to a new more enthusiastic colleague then expecting a promotion may have been your mistake. Just like the dating game, often people who expect attention are a lot less attractive. 
  3. Under bragging - say it with us ‘to assume makes an ass out of you and me’. Sometimes we have to lean in and demonstrate our value, rather than assume it’s appreciated. Be honest with yourself, did you make any extra efforts to stand out and prove your worthiness for a promotion or did you just expect it? If you get lazy and expect good things without putting in the ground work, new passionate and steadfast employees are likely to pip you to the post. Learn to big yourself up, present your progress and actually pitch for that promotion. 

 

If you think you’ve been blagging it, then you could do some eLearning in your spare time to build up your skills for the next round of promotion reviews. If lack of confidence and bragging skills is your issue, then start collecting a list of your achievements and building a case for promotion. And if you are over bragging? Well, sort it out and get some perspective. 

You ain’t no Kanye, but if you find the right balance you might be able to gold dig your way to that promotion and ‘get down girl go head get down’. Sing it - I ain’t sayin she’s a… You get the point. 

 

3. Stevie Wonder called it: you just didn’t ask for one

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Image source: Wiki Commons

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get”
Stevie Wonder

This may sound silly, but you would be surprised how many people expect a promotion to come to them without actually asking for one. In an Accenture survey only 37% of respondents actually asked for a promotion, and 59% of those that did ask for one got it. 

Has Little Stevie got your number? Did you actually ask for a promotion? If you don’t ask you don’t get and there are plenty of others who are brave enough to lean in nab the promotion you're after. Go through our list to get your other bits in order and then just ask for one. 

 

4. Like Brad and Jen: it’s just not the right fit

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Image source: The Mirror

Even the most perfect picture has cracks that can be seen if we look close enough. We all wanted Brad and Jen to stay together, they seemed so perfect, but in reality they just weren’t right for each other. Whether you believe ‘things happen for a reason’ or not. Sometimes we go for a promotion even when we know it isn’t the right move for us, something that your boss may actually sense, even if you don’t. 

Beyond the pay rise and logical step up in your existing job, was the promotion you didn’t get really the right move for you? Would it really have made you happy? To help you get to the bottom of your motivations for a promotion grab a notepad - yes real paper - and try answering these questions:

 

  • If money was no object, what would you do with your life?
  • How do those personal goals align with the career you have?
  • When others ask you what you do for a living, do you respond proudly?
  • If you had that promotion, how would it improve your life?

 

Like that moment when you finally look up and see the stars, hopefully this exercise will help you gain some perspective. If it doesn’t? Well, go outside and have a look at the stars.

 

How to handle not getting a promotion

Very early in life many of us learn what it feels like not to get what we want, and while you may have thrown your toys out of the pram once upon a time, by now you know better. Breathe, take a step back and review where you’re at. To recap consider this:

 

  • Is the timing right? For you, the business and your boss
  • Are you blagging, bragging or under selling yourself?
  • Did you actually ask for a promotion?
  • Would this promotion have actually made you happy long term? 

 

Whether you want to fight for that promotion, develop some new skills or move on to a new employer, often it comes down to perspective. With that we will leave you with this motivational insight from Talent Development specialist Tara Jaye Frank:

“People don’t get promoted for doing their jobs ‘really well’. They get promoted by demonstrating their potential to ‘do more’.”

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