Working Transitions

Tilted towards attack - how to reassess your career if you miss out on promotion

Roy Hodgson, the England Manager, announced who had made his 23 man squad for the upcoming European championships yesterday, in a move that he has said is “tilted towards attack”. For all the talk and column inches about the inclusion of 18 year old Marcus Rashford, social media was abuzz with talk about the three men who missed out (Danny Drinkwater, Andros Townsend and Fabian Delph). Their public rejection from the top team was hard for them to take, and although they were publicly professional about it, and are on the standby list, they will no doubt be disappointed.

This disappointment is mirrored in business. If you fail to get an internal promotion, often when it is known that you went for the job, it can be difficult to take. However you can actually use the situation to your advantage by following 10 easy steps:

1. Remember – Time is your friend
It’s important that you let the decision sink in. It is natural to feel upset, angry and even betrayed. In fact if you didn’t then it probably means you didn’t want the job. Over time you can take stock and assess why you missed out. But realise that any initial reaction is probably not ruled by the head, so give yourself time.

2. Vent in private
Find someone outside of the organisation to vent your anger to. Ideally this will not be a partner as you may need them to give you some objective feedback, and this can be difficult if they are upset for you too. However much you want to vent at your boss, it is not a good idea. And this also goes for the person who was successful. Eyes will be on your reaction, so don’t give people any cause for concern.

3. Don’t be hard on yourself
It’s important to remember that this isn’t a judgement about how you perform your current role, it’s about what the decision maker saw as important in the new role. It may well be that the person you lost out to has a different skillset that fits in more with future plans, they may have had previous experience or qualifications you were unaware of. It could just be that you had a bad interview so you need to learn from this. Whatever the reason know that you are a valued employee otherwise they wouldn’t have even considered you for the role.

4. Feedback
Probably the most uncomfortable step in the process, yet the most important. Schedule a meeting with your manager for feedback on your performance in your current role and at the interview, although do so when you feel ready and not the day after hearing the news that you lost out. You need your boss to be open and honest about the reasons and make sure you listen carefully.

5. Reassess your career goals.
Often those going for an internal promotion may have done so because the opportunity presented itself, rather than it being part of a career plan. Start by really thinking about the direction you now want your career to go in. Do you want to remain in the profession/industry or is it time for a change. This will give you focus and a sense of purpose.

6. Personal development
Once you know your career goals, you can then set about enhancing your skills. Decide if it is technical (i.e. specific skills related to the job) or softer skills you wish to focus on. Seek support from colleagues, a mentor, your manager and also your training department (if your organisation is large enough)

7. Communicate your ambitions
It’s important that those in any decision making capacity know that you want to progress within the organisation or within your career. Don’t wait for appraisals as you never know when the opportunity may arise. They may even support you and provide you with opportunities that may not have come your way if they see you as ambitious.

8. Use an external career consultant
External help is always useful, and a career coach can often help you focus and help you to gain perspective. This will make sure that you broaden your horizons and that you’ll be enthusiastic and energised by whatever you decide to do, rather than feeling controlled by self-imposed limitations.

9. Maintain balance
You need to maintain a work-life balance. Focusing too much on your career if you have missed out on a promotion is all too common. But focusing on things you enjoy can give you perspective and put you in a different frame of mind.

10. Stay positive
Above all a positive attitude will get you through any disappointment and help you to focus on the future. As the saying goes “ we can’t control what happens to us but we can always control our response” By re-evaluating and refocusing your career you can make positive steps. You will find that you suddenly take on more responsibility, become more of a team player and are looked to as a role model and possible leader, all things employers look for
Disappointment at not getting the job is inevitable, but whether you will turn the experience into something positive is up to you. By using the experience wisely and to your benefit, you can refocus on your future and be in a position to make the changes you need, whether that be with your current employer or elsewhere. The three players left out of the England squad need to go through a similar process, it’s just perhaps a little easier when you are earning £50,000 a week!


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Working Transitions
02 June 2016
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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