Getting passed over for a promotion can be painful. It certainly was in Cindy’s case. She had been working on a project for several years and every indication was that she was doing a great job. As the project scaled the company decided they needed another layer of management. Cindy believed she would be the logical choice for this promotion. She was stunned when the job went to someone from the outside.
Cindy met with her boss to find out why she wasn’t given a shot at the position. Her boss simply said it wasn’t up to him and the decision had already been made. She was extremely disappointed and this was heightened by the fact that she never got a clear answer as to what she was lacking.
As months went by, she continued to seethe and her resentment played out in many ways. One example was when her original boss approached her with questions on the project, she replied, “Why don’t you ask the person you hired instead of me?” This probably confirmed in her boss’s mind that he had made the right decision.
Months later, after a restructuring, Cindy was part of a company-wide layoff. This company, and many others like it, frequently offers laid-off employees the opportunity to interview for another position within the organization.
Cindy was actively pursuing a job and things were going well. She made it all the way to the final round and was getting feedback along the way that she was a good fit. However, things changed in the final round when the hiring manager went to Cindy’s old boss for a reference. Her old boss said she didn’t handle frustration well. This was a concern to the hiring manager, who brought it up to Cindy.
Cindy explained her plight and the hiring manager nodded in what appeared to be understanding. In addition, the hiring manager acknowledged that Cindy’s former boss was a difficult person to work for. Whew. Cindy thought she had dodged a bullet.
Unfortunately, she didn’t get the job and was surprised to learn that they were continuing to interview new candidates. Since she was well qualified for this job and hadn’t lost it to someone else already in the mix, it was obvious to her that the negative feedback from her old boss ruined her chances.
Frustration in the workplace is a natural part of business. How you handle it separates leaders from the rest of the pack. We can all sympathize with Cindy’s situation. Anyone would have felt slighted. What she could have done at the time to make the situation better was acknowledge to her boss that she hadn’t handled things well and that she was now ready to accept the decision and support the new person. This would have shown the level of maturity companies seek in people they are considering for promotion.
In addition, she had another opportunity to diffuse the situation with the hiring manager during the interview. Instead of complaining about what had happened, she could have explained what she learned and how going forward she would better handle similar situations.
Even if your boss has a reputation of being difficult to work for, their opinion of you carries weight. Stewing in frustration won’t improve your situation and can make it worse.
Fred & Gladys
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success