No one likes to hear “no,” but it happens.
It’s especially hard when you hear that dreaded word after you’ve pitched yourself for a promotion. A setback like that can really mess with your confidence and even derail your career.
This is exactly what happened to a client of mine, Anita, who was passed up recently for a promotion she felt was well deserved. Her anger got the best of her, and within a matter of weeks, she submitted her resignation out of spite. Unfortunately, Anita didn’t have another job lined up.
Sure, there are times when you just have to move on. But, in Anita’s case, she really didn’t give her a company or herself a fair shot. One setback shouldn’t spell the end.
Should you find yourself in the same situation as Anita, here’s what you need to do to keep your cool and keep moving forward.
Set Aside Emotion
Remember, as cliché as it sounds, that this is business. It’s not personal. Don’t let this minor obstacle turn into a spiral of self-doubt and self-pity, or alternatively, anger and resentment. Yes, some honest assessment is necessary to learn from this, but focus on getting curious and using this as a growth opportunity.
Ask for Specifics
Request a brief meeting with the decision-maker to go over the key factors that contributed to the outcome. The purpose of this meeting is to give you more insight on how you can develop yourself for future promotion—not to make excuses or “argue” for a change of heart. Let your attitude and interactions reflect that. Don’t get defensive; just listen.
Request a Plan
Let it be known that your desire for the promotion is still there, and before leaving that meeting, ask if together you can outline a plan to get you where you want to be. What skills do you need to hone? What specific goals need to be met? What do you need to demonstrate to prove you deserve and can handle the promotion you’re seeking?
Work the Plan
Once you know what needs to happen, your job is to figure out the “how” and then do it. What actions do you need to take to make this happen? Set specific mini-goals for yourself and track your progress.
The next time a promotion opportunity becomes available, you’ll be able to show how the previous setback really lit a fire under you.
Don’t let people forget about your goal for promotion. Just because it didn’t work this time, doesn’t mean you’ve given up. Check in with the decision-maker(s) regularly to express your interest and let him or her know your progress on the plan.
A great leader is one who learns from setbacks. It’s a demonstration of character and the ability to grow from critique. You didn’t get exactly what you wanted exactly when you wanted it. That’s life. Be persistent and, the next time a promotion opportunity comes around, your name will be top of mind.
Of course, there may still be times when you need to move on in order to get what you’re truly seeking in your career. But don’t fall victim to your emotions like Anita. Give the 5 steps here a chance to work for you first. Then, make your decision from a rational state of mind.