Turned Down for Promotion Twice: What’s the Message?

The company is growing at 15 percent a year.  Your department has doubled in size in five years.  You’ve been in your current position for three years.  Two co-workers have been promoted to jobs you should have gotten.  What’s going on here.

turned down for promotion

1.  Your boss is unsold on your skills, fit, and ability to add value.  Unfortunately, she’s a spineless coward and doesn’t want to tell you ?  Can’t you read her handwriting?  The fact that she can’t or won’t articulate her true opinion doesn’t make her opinion less obvious or valid.  If you take the attitude “I’ll show her,” you’ll never get promoted and earn less money over your career.  It’s a self-defeating strategy.

2.  Your boss’s boss is the problem.  Your boss may not have the power to promote you without her boss’s approval.  You’ll know it’s the next level up’s problem if you ask the right question:  “Do you think your boss has a high opinion of my work?  If not, why not?”  If there is any equivocation your career under that boss just ended.

3.  Your work is good, not great.  Before you decide this can be cured by another degree or more training ask yourself if what you’re doing is what you truly want to be doing.  If you’re a perfunctory performer you won’t make the sale that you should move up.  A good performer in one environment can be great in another environment — or needs to change careers.  This was very common in the 60s and 70s.  All those accounting students who got A’s and offers and hated the day-to-day.  Do you want your tax work done by someone who doesn’t live to outwit the IRS?  Not me.  I want the person who’s read the regs and lives to challenge them.

4.  Not getting promoted is a minor irritant.  You really don’t like people nor do you want to manage them.  In my experience, more people want to be promoted for the honor than the job.   In fact, if they are doers, they go from enjoying the process to forcing others to do the work and they dislike that.  Be careful what you tell yourself you want.  In another place, across town, they promote people with your skills and they don’t have to manage people!  Shouldn’t you network this one?

Career fatalities result from following the wrong people going in the wrong direction.  You might be able to wear your boss down but what’s the point?

Contact Marilyn for Help With Career Strategies

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