Back to all Articles
Image 2023 01 17 T15 58 20
Share this Article

How Can I Best Break the Cycle of Being Constantly Passed Over for Promotion

  • Publish Date: Posted about 7 years ago
  • Author:by Michelle Murphy

Question: I am an employee in middle management and have been passed over for promotion on three occasions. I am not in a position to leave the company but I desperately want to progress in my career and I feel that I am stuck in the role that I am in. Is there some way that I can approach my boss and find out where I am going wrong?

Answer: I understand how frustrating it can be not to get a promotion. you are probably feeling a lot of emotions including disappointment, humiliation, resentment and, maybe, anger. It is impossible not to feel personally offended. However, it is important for our own sanity to understand why this has happened and, of course, leave you in a position to improve so you can break the cycle and go forward for future opportunities.

It is important to organise that ‘dreaded discussion’ with your bosses promptly so you are getting fresh feedback. ask for specific things you could work on to improve your chances in the future. However, when you ask for suggestions, be ready to listen and be prepared to make those changes.

It Is Not Yours Because You Expect It

Some employees feel entitled to be promoted because they have been in the organisation for a long time, but tenure is no longer a key consideration. Contribution will be the ultimate decision-maker.

Performance Is Not Everything

Employees are often under the misconception that promotion decisions are based solely on performance in their role. Success in one area doesn’t always translate to another. You need to become familiar with the requirements and competencies needed.

Could It Be Your Softer Skills?

I have often seen employees falter when progressing – especially into leadership roles – due to the lack of softer skills. Mastering skills such as communication, negotiation, mentoring and using initiative can take time. Be active when opportunities present themselves internally to gain exposure and hone in on these skills such as leading new programmes, delivering training, delivering presentations, etc.

Welcome Feedback

Constructive feedback is there for a reason and should give you the building blocks to move forward. I have experienced employees become defensive, but this does not bode well for someone who wants to progress. This feedback is around improving performance and should not feel like a lecture.

Initiative Is Key

Many employees can recognise particular areas that need to be improved within the business but are happy to lodge the suggestion or complaint and let someone else deal with it. You have to wear a problem-solvers hat, as this will indicate to your boss that you do care about the company, want to make improvements and bring solutions to the table. Try to foster a ‘positive change culture’ within your team so any issues are dealt with efficiently without having to bring every single thing to management.

Think Like A Manager

If you are considering progressing to a management role then start acting like a manager. It is not a matter of turning up and clocking in. You need to show you are truly engaged and want to push the business forward so everyone can benefit. Show flexibility. Be willing to come in early – or stay late – if needed.

Always Be Professional

You need to look at how you conduct yourself inside and outside of work. Always present a professional image, maintain confidentiality and do not be loose-lipped around co-workers, clients or customers. There is no need to pontificate around trivial office issues – look for a solution and bring it to the team rather than adding fuel to the fire when you have an audience listening.

Be Gracious In Defeat

A sign of maturity is being able to offer genuine congratulations to the person who was promoted. This could be an awkward situation if both parties need to work together, so you should show your support. They may well be involved in the selection process the next time so will be supporters of you in future selection processes. Also, consider if you are truly ready for promotion. Sometimes, the timing is not right so don’t just throw your hat in the ring for the sake of it.

Once you get that promotion do you know how much you should be getting paid? Check out our Salary Guide to find out.

This article originally appeared in the Sunday Independent on the 14th May 2017

Michelle Murphy - Director
Michelle Murphy