Most Qualified But Not Chosen!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being passed over for a promotion.

I recently applied for a promotion at my job after my supervisor announced that she was leaving. I was the most qualified person (have been here for two and half year, have worked really well with my supervisor, received stellar evaluations, did extra work, the whole nine yards in addition to working towards a master degree, which this other person doesn’t have). But the promotion was given to anther co-worker who was less qualified and has been here for only one year.

However, this person has a personal relationship with the director since she was very young and they live a few blocks away from one other. I also found out at the meeting where candidates were chosen that I got most of the votes (the others I am not aware of), but those were trumped by the director. My question is this: Is there any way to fight this or to get something positive out of it? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Signed, Most Qualified

Dear Most Qualified:

Your story is not uncommon. And I don’t think there is a way to fight it directly. If the director wants one job candidate over the other in spite of a committee’s recommendation, that is her/his prerogative. Sure sometimes it appears that the more qualified one is trumped by the less qualified newcomer, possibly because of friendship or an unknown factor. Life and work are not always fair.However, you are not without a voice.

You can mumble about how unfair it is to your co-workers and wallow in their sympathy. Or you can complain openly to your director or his boss or HR. Both of these tacks will paint you as a sour loser and possibly make enemies of the one promoted and the director. Or you can bite your tongue and let it fester within. I’m sure you, along with me, reject these three forms of voice and ineffectively risky.

A better use of voice is to schedule a meeting with your director and to express your disappointment and desire to be considered for other promotions. Such a meeting is an opportunity to affirm your loyalty to the organization and your motivation to take on greater responsibilities. It also is an opportunity to learn in what ways you might enhance your chances to be the one chosen. You can use it to restate the contributions you can make and to learn what are the prospects within your organization to use your talents.

Voice is the constructive way to indicate you are eager and ready. It is natural to think about “I” and “me”. The kind of individual a workplace really wants is one who can talk “We” and think WEGO. Will you let me know if these thoughts make sense to you?

William Gorden