How to face your team after being rejected for promotion
You’ve just gotten rejected for a promotion, though everyone was sure it was yours. You’re shocked, disappointed, and embarrassed. With such confusion, there are probably dozens of questions running through your mind right now, including:
How did this happen?
What do I do now? Stay? Leave?
How can I make the best decision?
These are key issues to ponder - and will affect the rest of your career, all part of how to measure success at work. I’ve addressed all of these in previous posts.
But there’s one major question that every manager must grapple with: how should I face my team? This is a legitimate issue. If you’re like most managers, you’re anticipating awkwardness, embarrassment, or even disrespect from team members.
But hold on before you face the music. First, it’s important to analyze what’s just happened. From my experience, there are two scenarios. I’ll start with the worst one.
Scenario 1: You’ve been screwed over.
The person who got the promotion has just about the same qualifications, experience, performance, etc. as you do. In other words, when looking at the factors of how to measure success at work, you lost out on a pretty close race. Yes, some of your team members are going to see you as a big loser, but let me help you put this into perspective. I’ll start with the old axiom, “it’s all in your head.” Team members that had respected you before your rejection will most likely continue to do so. And those who hadn’t will probably carry on in their way as well. But here’s the secret: even if you had gotten the promotion, the team members who didn’t like you would’ve continued in the same way. So at the end of the day, there’s really no difference. What is important, however, is how you frame the rejection vis-a-vis the team. Are you going to approach your team as a loser or a winner? Why is this so important? Because this is what will determine how they relate to you. So it’s really up to you.
My advice? Give yourself a little space before you meet with your team so that you’ll feel and act like a winner. Once you’re back on track, you can take the time to decide whether to stay at or leave your organization.
Scenario 2: The Talent Paradox
The person who got the promotion seems to have come from left field. And you can’t figure out how they’ve somehow ‘out-talented’ you in the race. You’re not only embarrassed but also insulted that the other candidate was even seen as in the same league as you. But here’s the paradox: the more talented you are, the more careful your organization will be about offering you just any old advancement opportunities available. As such, instead of just pushing you up the corporate ladder, the powers that be are actually ensuring that you remain on the career path that will ultimately result in the biggest bang for the buck. So this isn’t a time to wallow in your sorrows. Instead, realize the situation for what it is. You’re being groomed for the next big thing.
My advice: meet with your team and let them know how well your organization is working to ensure that the right opportunities are given to the right people. Say it like a winner and encourage everyone to get back to work. Inside, you’ll know that the corner office is on the horizon.
Facing your team after being rejected for a promotion takes a great deal of courage. In both scenarios, it’s not easy, but if you give yourself some time to analyze what’s going on, hopefully you’ll be able to carry on with business as usual.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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