The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: When you get passed up on a promotion, what’s the next step? is written by Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group.
Getting passed up for a promotion is frustrating, but it doesn’t mean you should leave the company out of anger. Instead, consider learning more about your manager’s decision. First and foremost, it’s important to accept the decision calmly—don’t let your manager see that you’re upset. Take a deep breath, go for a walk around the block or go out for lunch so you have some space to process the news alone. After you’ve taken the time to unwind, write a list of qualities you like about the company. Maybe you work well with your coworkers or you receive good benefits. Whatever the pros are, remember that you were hoping to have the chance to keep working for the company in a different capacity, so don’t let your anger or disappointment make you forget why you wanted to continue your career with the organization in the first place.
Next, set up a meeting with your manager to learn how you can improve in your current role. This will show an interest in improving yourself and give you tangible ways to develop your skills for next time. Come to the meeting prepared to ask about how you can take your professional performance to the next level. Take control of the meeting in a positive way by being proactive and inquisitive—not defensive—about how you can enhance your skill set. Ask about training programs that can help you improve in your role. Depending on the company, these may take the form of internal training programs or external professional development courses. In either case, your manager might have recommendations and will appreciate your interest.
In this meeting, you also can ask why you weren’t given the promotion. However, be sure to communicate that you are asking in order to learn and improve, not because you think the person who got the promotion didn’t deserve it. In my experience, some talented people get passed over for promotions precisely because they are so good at their current position. For example, a great salesperson may not be a great sales manager and their supervisor might prefer to keep them in the sales position in which they are excelling. These insights from your manager will help you process the decision and figure out what actions to take moving forward.
Finally, being supportive of the person who did get the promotion is vital. This will demonstrate maturity and professionalism, qualities that all managers look for when considering someone for a promotion. It’s always difficult to watch another person perform the job you wish you could have, but when the next round of promotions arrive, people will remember how you handled the decision with grace, not allowing your emotions to affect your work performance or ability to collaborate with your colleagues.
Read all responses to the Leadership Insider question: When you get passed up on a promotion, what’s the next step?
The worst thing you can do after getting passed up on a promotion by Mike Guerchon, chief people officer at Okta.
Does a missed promotion mean it’s time to quit your job? by Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify.
How to get over a promotion you thought you deserved by Shadan Deleveaux, director of sales multicultural beauty division at L’Oréal USA.
How to move on after getting passed up for a promotion by David Reimer, CEO of Merryck.
You just got passed over for a promotion. Here’s what you do next by Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder and CEO of VaynerMedia.