Getting Passed Over For Promotion

Being passed over for promotion isn’t a good feeling, especially when the evidence doesn’t align with what is happening. 

I had been working for Sasol for a few years and had been in an on-going discussion with my supervisor about a promotion. The promotion from engineer to senior engineer was overdue in terms of the progress I was making, the level of responsibility that had been given to me. The other indicator was that I was well behind (two grades) the promotion curve on average when compared to some of my peers who had left university at around the same time I had.  My supervisor had told me that he was happy with the work I was doing and I was due for promotion. However, when the committee met for the promotion approvals my promotion didn’t materialise. When I asked why this had not happened, all I got was weak excuses that didn’t sound genuine. I was once again reassured that I would definitely be promoted during the next round and had to wait another six months. At no stage during this time was there any cause for concern. I kept getting good feedback, however, when I was passed over for promotion for the second time I realised I was in trouble. I still wasn’t getting a sensible answer from my boss who was still saying the same things about the promotion being imminent, but these reassurances had become empty promises and my faith and trust in him and the organisation was damaged. I still had a good job, it paid reasonably well and the work was stimulating, so it would have been easy to become ambivalent, focus on my other interests in life and just get on with it knowing that somewhere along the line I would inevitably get promoted and it was just a question of time and patience. However, I was ambitious and this lack of promotion represented a significant problem. I felt I had to make a change. 

Although the promotion did come through on the third occasion the damage had already been done and I knew I had to make a change. At the time I didn’t believe I was progressing well enough to keep my career ambitions alive and knew I had to make a change, but I din’t know what type of change and this represented a significant crisis. (Later in my career I realised that career development and management often involves navigating from one crisis to the next). 

There is a bit more to this story, that you can read in another post, but I made two courageous changes. First, I took a sabbatical, and when I got back I changed my career trajectory within the organisation I was working.

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