Personal Finance

Refocusing after promotion that didn't happen last year

man working office
Missing out on a promotion is an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and work on career gaps for future growth. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Last year some people celebrated promotions, others were informed to wait longer and a handful were even demoted. Of course, there is a group as well that couldn’t care less! These are the disengaged lot who just go to work to unlock their salary and pay the bills.

They are not particularly ambitious, or they could be, but their end game is completely different from what they are currently doing. Their current job is a means to an end.

First, if you are in the disengaged group, make an effort to stretch yourself and raise the bar of your performance because this will actually help you develop the right discipline and the habits you need to thrive when you are ready to move on to pursuing your dream.

This article is targeted at the hard working and focused individual who contributed greatly to their employer but did not get promoted or recognised despite the effort they put in. If this accurately describes you, it is likely that you are still deflated, and your productivity may have gone down a notch given your expectations were not met. If you have been waiting for this promotion for a while and new hires who you have trained are moving up the ladder year on year, you may even be feeling somewhat humiliated.

Well, the good news is that you have a lot within your control and you are still at the driver’s seat of your career. With you behind the wheel, you are free to navigate different paths to get to your aspired destination.


As a start, consider applying the following recommendations:

CHANGE YOUR MINDSET: Most of the time when we feel deeply disappointed, a change of mindset can do wonders.

Possibly you feel bad that the seniors do not seem to be noticing your efforts and are taking them for granted. It is even possible that you thrive in an environment of affirmation and you wonder if you are even valuable to the organisation given all you have done and even a simple thank you is not forthcoming.

Begin by re-contextualising the situation and keeping in mind that everything you do is for you more than it is for the company.

Your experience will always be yours, your accomplishments are your accomplishments and your reputation is your reputation. These are extremely valuable and recognition or not, they are yours to carry everywhere you go.

BE OPEN TO FEEDBACK: Find out why you did not get promoted and openly receive the feedback.

Reflect on it later and devise a plan to work on your areas of development. Ask your manager or a mentor for help. We are living in the information age and there are many books and video tutorials on almost every area you can think of. You can actually take initiative and self-teach if you are really determined.

The opportunities for you are endless if you are willing to put in the effort to address your gaps.

STRATEGICALLY PRIORITISE: It is possible that you did a stellar job, but your focus was misplaced. Remember promotions and reward more often than not are linked to business outcomes. Think carefully and seek advice so that you are clear on what the key focus areas for the company are. Ensure that you position your goals in a way that gives you the highest chances of success. Take on extra strategic work outside of the standard goals that you will have set with your manager.

LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES: Get out of your comfort zone and take initiative on a project. If it is directly related to business goals, that would be ideal but if all those have been assigned to the more ‘visible’ employees, do not lose hope. You could still lead a project, even of a social nature that will have a positive impact on the organisation and get people to see a different side of you.

More importantly, you will be sharpening your leadership skills in readiness for your next big opportunity.

If none of this works, remember you are the key driver of your career. As a wise person once said to me, “You are not a tree!” You can explore other opportunities outside the organisation.