You work on the same team. You have similar job descriptions and work ethic. Maybe you even helped train them and have seniority. You both applied for the promotion but you felt confident that you had more experience and would be the first choice. But when the new promotion is announced, it’s their name that’s read, not yours. You want to feel happy for them, but all you can think of is: “Why? Why them and not me? What went wrong?” Here are a few tips that can help you.
- Be happy for your coworker. Nobody likes a sore loser, and demonstrating a bad attitude when things don’t go your way may just solidify your superior’s choice to promote your coworker. So do your best to swallow your pride and congratulate them. After all, you would hope that others would be happy for you if you had received the promotion. Avoid giving fake compliments or backhanded comments such as: “I can’t believe they picked you,” or “This is the biggest surprise of the year.” Try to be genuine. Handle this as you would any other criticism, with as much grace as you can. And if you feel you don’t have much to say, that’s OK. You don’t have to give the best speech-a handshake and a simple “Congratulations on the promotion” is enough.
- Ask yourself what you need to learn and…get support. If after the initial shock you still can’t come to terms with why your coworker was chosen and not you, speak with your mentor or a trusted friend about it. Try to avoid nitpicking your coworker; instead, try to discover what you need to improve on to get a promotion and what you can learn from the circumstances. Was the promotion deserved? If not, do you eventually need to move on from your organization? If it was and there are things you need to work on, are there certain personality traits or attitudes you could work on to become a better leader for example? Or steps you can take to improve your value as an employee? Ask your mentor to be honest with you, and be open to feedback. Set goals for yourself based off of their feedback.
- Ask for a performance review. Sometimes we are scared off by performance reviews, but really they can be beneficial for growth. Let your boss know that you would like to schedule a performance review and let them know you are looking forward to their feedback. Prepare for your review as you normally would, with a list of your measurable results over the past few months and any other relevant information. Keep in mind that this is not the time to complain about your coworker being chosen over you. However, if you really feel that you were more qualified for the position, you can respectfully let them know. Ask what they were looking for that they didn’t think that you weren’t qualified for, and be willing to implement their suggestions.