Promotions: Dealing with not Getting the Promotion

Built in to the concept of any job is the idea of promotion and progression. When it doesn't happen, it can be like hitting a brick wall head first. There's obviously a problem somewhere, but sometimes people don't recognize the real problems.

Not getting a promotion may not be your fault. The reason for not getting the promotion may have nothing to do with you. The problem is that you need to check out the situation for yourself, to make sure you're not making any career-killing mistakes. Lack of promotion, or being overdue for promotion, is circumstantial evidence, but it might mean you are doing something wrong.

Reasons for not getting a promotion fall into three basic types: Those which relate directly to you, those which are dependent on other issues or people, and those which shouldn't really be issues at all.

Issues which relate to you:

  • Performance
  • Quality of work
  • Experience
  • Expertise

Issues which relate to other parties:

  • Workplace relationships
  • Competition from other qualified staff
  • Employer policies
  • Equal Opportunity requirements

Issues which shouldn't affect promotion

  • Personal relationships
  • Nepotism
  • Poor employment policies
  • Ignoring EO requirements

Issues which directly relate to your work should be considered real problems. If you're not getting promotions on the basis of your work, either you or the employer is at fault. If the employer is refusing to give you recognition for good performance, that's not your fault. You really need a new employer.

Issues relating to other parties are part of the workplace environment. Competition for promotion is always strong, and it could mean that you're not being competitive enough to get a promotion. Not getting a promotion may just mean there were two people in line and only one could get the promotion. Equal Opportunity means that there may be a legitimate claim on the promotion from another employee, too, because some appointments can be disputed under EO laws. Whatever the case, you're advised to upgrade your competitive approach, because over time you could cost yourself several promotions. Keep your career on track, even if it means getting another job elsewhere.

The things that really shouldn't have any role in getting a promotion are definitely not your fault. If any of those reasons are a factor in promotions, you're in the wrong job. That definitely isn't the sort of employer to help your career over the long term. Promotion is supposed to be based on merit, and any of these situations should have you looking for another employer.

Learn fast about how promotions happen in your workplace

The quicker you figure out the promotion situation, the better. If you're still relatively new to the workplace, it's worth checking out how the promotions operate. Be realistic about your chances, because you can wind up in the same job for decades if you aren't. Your career could be half over before you get a promotion a rung or two up the ladder.

In the next part of this series, we'll have a look at taking preventative measures to protect you from getting passed over for a promotion.