Not everyone up for a new position and promotion will be lucky enough to land the role. Helping team members who are passed over for a promotion cope with disappointment and rejection is vital, because while they might not have been right for a role now, they might be the perfect fit for future opportunities.
Essentially, employees who miss out a promotion still remain in your talent reservoir – they’re skilled individuals who will likely take on more significant roles with the passage of time, their time just hasn’t come yet.
An Opportunity to Grow
Encourage employees to view a missed promotion as an opportunity to grow. They can use the feedback they receive about why they didn’t get the promotion to become better at their current job and grow their responsibilities – so next time they (hopefully) won’t get passed over.
The reasons for not getting a promotion may not be immediately evident to an employee. Knowledge and guidance are crucial for the growth process, and it can be difficult not knowing why they didn’t get the promotion. Set aside time to have a sit down with them and clarify the reasoning behind why they were not promoted. If they inquire about how they could improve, give them some constructive feedback about their performance.
Also encourage them to reflect. Upon reflection, they may realize they know the answer to why they weren’t promoted Even if the reasons they come up with aren’t the exact reasons they didn’t get the promotion, those reasons likely contributed to being passed over in subtle ways. Either way, it gives employees an opportunity to work on their problem areas – and that’s a good thing.
Helping Employees Regroup and Move Forward
After missing out on a promotion, employees need to regroup and move forward – put them on the path to recovery with the following tips:
- Encourage employees to use their emotions constructively. This can be difficult – they’ve been rejected and they’re hurt and upset. Urge them to get feedback not just from management, but from others that they work closely with – they may have valuable insights. In fact, coworkers are often more in tune with each other’s day-to-day performances than management – that gives them information not readily available to managers.
- Encourage acceptance. They didn’t get the promotion and they need to accept it. No amount of bargaining or negotiations will change that. Acceptance can give employees peace with the facts of the matter (even if they don’t agree with the result of who was promoted). Acceptance also shows a certain degree of maturity and grace – traits that are valuable in and of themselves, and could prove important for future promotions, especially if maturity and emotional intelligence were factors in why they were passed over to begin with.
- Encourage employees to let go of their disappointment. Disappointment can really eat away at you – but it’s not constructive. Stewing in disappointment can make employees stagnant – instead encourage them to let it go and move on, they need to get their momentum back so that they’re ready for the next round of promotions.
- Encourage employees to figure out their next move. Encourage the employees who missed out on a promotion to use all the information they gather (feedback from others – including management – and their own reflections) to formulate a plan for improvement. By forming a plan, and acting on it, they’ll have something positive and proactive to focus on. This can help them move on from their disappointment and keep their work fresh and vigorous.
- Tell employees to relax. Make sure they understand that not getting the promotion isn’t a sign that they’re not right for the company or that they’ll be let go. Knowing they’re still valued within the company can really help put their minds at ease and heal their bruised egos. They’ve sought feedback, reflected on how they can improve, and they’ve formed a plan on how to implement things they need to work on.
- Assign a unique project. Even after all of your tips and encouragement, passed over employees will most likely still be feeling a little glum – so offer them a project or assignment that’s a little outside of what they’ve been doing – a change to something new can help shake things up and give them something positive to focus on. It’ll also let them know that management is still confident about their skills and abilities.
It’s Not Hand-Holding – It’s an Investment in Your Talent
Helping employees deal with being passed over for a promotion isn’t hand-holding or coddling – it’s a smart decision to invest in your company’s talent. These employees are not only still needed – they’re still wanted, and there’s nothing wrong with letting them know that. In fact, letting employees know they’re still valued and seen as talented individuals can keep them from jumping board after missing a promotion.
The bottom line is that maintaining your talent reservoir is important, and helping employees deal with and move on from missed promotions is not a chore – it’s common sense. Disappointment over a missed opportunity is natural – everyone experiences it when it happens to them – and making relatively minor accommodations (in the long run) can keep turnover low and keep your talent reservoir engaged and productive.