Category Performance Management

How To Avoid Screwing An Employee Over When Denying A Promotion

Recently I provided advice to employees who think they had been screwed over because they were passed over for a promotion. In that post, the employee was told all promotions were on hold due to budgetary reasons, only to see a peer get promoted while she was away on vacation.

Read So, You Got Screwed Over – 9 Ways To Handle Being Denied A Promotion

There are two-sides to every story and to be fair, the employee at the centre of this did not have her best year, and she may not have been a fit for the new job.

What is the issue?

In a nutshell, the Boss lied.

  • The Boss lied about the company’s moratorium on promotions.
  • The Boss lied about this employee’s performance?

Yes, I said lie. The boss was dishonest. Period.

The result of the lie?

  • This Boss has created employee who has lost trust and confidence in the company
  • The story has shared inside and outside the company and diminishing their reputation
  • The Company might lose a 5-year employee
  • And it begs the question … Who else is skulking around bitter and angry instead of productive and doing good work?

How could this have been avoided?

I understand why the Boss said that there were no promotions, he didn’t want to open himself up to the next obvious conversations about the employee’s performance and fit and why they likely would not be considered for the promotion.

Read Does My Butt Look Big In This Dress – 2 Phrases A Boss Needs To Respect The Truth And Your Team

I say that if you aren’t sure how to have honest conversations with your employees you should get professional development to learn how to.

If you don’t or can’t do it, consider turning in your boss badge, because hard and honest conversations are a big part of your job.

My Final Thoughts

It is easy to blame the employee or the boss in this circumstance as each bears a share of responsibility.

But to me, this story tells me more about the culture of the entire organization.

An organization that put an ill-prepared supervisor into a position where a lie seemed like the best response.

Shame on them.

So, You Got Screwed Over – 9 Ways To Handle Being Denied A Promotion

A friend told me that she had been angling for a promotion at work.

She had been there 5 years, done good work and felt she was ready. When she had asked her supervisor about the possibility of a promotion she was told that there were no promotions – for anyone – due to budget reasons.

She left on a scheduled holiday and on her return found that a coworker had received a promotion. A promotion that seemingly did not exist a couple of weeks earlier.

Read more about how to talk to your employees when things are bad

Even when everything is fair and transparent, it is nerve-wracking when it comes time to find out who made the latest round of promotions. When we learn that we didn’t make it the disappointment can be painful.

Now imagine if it seems that your Boss has not been honest, fair or transparent … it is no surprise my friend felt rejected and taken advantage of.

It sucked.

What is my friend and you to do to manage the hurt feelings?

Read more about partnering with your boss

10 Key Tips To Handle Being Denied A Promotion

  1. Keep asking questions. Don’t accept one sentence answer to why you were denied a promotion. They owe you an explanation, so be bold, respectful and ask questions straight up. It’s the only way you will get answers.
  2. Don’t get emotional. When you get caught by surprise with bad news, it is hard not to get emotional. Keep your emotions in check and don’t make a public scene.
  3. Find a private place. Take time to yourself after the rejection. The last thing you need is to return to behave like everything is normal. Find some privacy where you can let out all your emotions.
  4. Talk to a trusted confidant. It helps to talk to someone you trust for guidance and to build your confidence back up. It’s easy to lose the big picture when you’re upset; you will need help to refocus and channel your emotions into your next move and something productive.
  5. Analyze the last 6-12 months. Once your emotions have calmed down, analyze all the things that have happened over the last 6-12 months. Consider your performance, your accomplishments and failures, and be honest with yourself about your part in what led management to their decision.
  6. Talk with your boss. Once you have cooled down, go to your boss and respectfully explain you’re disappointed and why, ask questions, and find out what you need to do to make the next round of promotions. You may not like the feedback, but if you don’t reach out, they can only assume you don’t have any concerns.
  7. Think about your next moves. Rejection can be liberating. Start applying for new jobs, put together a plan for your next moves and get Plan B ready.
  8. Put things in writing. Documentation is key, so track the meetings you’ve had with your boss and get a copy of your most recent review. If you are a victim of any workplace discrimination or constructive dismissal you will need as much documentation as possible.
  9. Update your resume. Get your resume updated and start brushing up your interview skills.

Finally Move on.

It’s hard to be rejected, especially when we believe we’re right. But life doesn’t always work out the way we want, stand up for yourself and get your confidence back.

If your Boss’ and your organization’s values and transparency do not align with yours … maybe it is time to move on.

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Team Members Every Month

Being a leader is about understanding what is going on around you.

In the military, it is called ‘Situational Awareness,’ Often, the people with the most pertinent information about the situation are those working for you.

Questions are powerful tools, and knowing how to wield them precisely is key to becoming a better leader.

How to ask?

If it’s about asking the questions, how do you ask the right questions in the right way?

  1. Ask these questions like you care & want to know the answers. You’re not reading from a script; ask with authenticity.
  2. You asked, so be prepared to hear answers that you may not like, but time to listen — openly and honestly.
  3. The answer you need may not happen the first time you try. But if you ask sincerely and humbly, you will build trust & confidence. So ask regularly, and the quality of the information you gather will improve.

Read about the six things you need to communicate

What to ask?

1. What is your biggest accomplishment this month?


  • This question provides a sense of forward motion and progress.
  • When workers relate positive information, it gives them a sense of personal accomplishment.
  • Answers give you both oversight and performance improvement potential.
  • You have a measure if people contribute in the ways you need them to.

2. What’s your biggest challenge right now?


  • You can begin to understand where the worker is struggling.
  • You can learn about pinch points in an employee’s process, work, or company culture.
  • It puts your conversation into problem-solving mode because when you know where your team member is struggling, you can do something about it.

Read how not to Eff Up talking to your people.

3. What things should we do differently, or what processes can we improve?


  • People understand that things can be done differently, so being open to feedback from ‘below’ can be invaluable.
  • When team members recognize that they can provide value beyond their job description, you can harness this power to improve the company.
  • You may not always act on every suggestion, but you’re going to discover some things that genuinely need to change.

4. What resources would be helpful to you right now?


  • By using the word “resources,” you’re opening the door beyond money.
  • What you might think employees need is often different from what they want.
  • Don’t assume the solution is more people or money, trust the people working on the project to understand what will solve the issue.

Read about how to listen.

5. Is there anything I can help you with?


  • It lets your employees know you’re a human and care about their success and well-being.
  • It allows you to understand any personal factors that may influence their work.
  • It demonstrates you’re a real human being.
  • You improve your working relationship with them by showing sincere interest in their life and improvement.

Your Workers Don’t Give A Rat’s Patootie About Your Precious Mission Statement – 4 Questions To Give People Something To Believe In

Boards and executive teams everywhere spend an unbelievable amount of time and energy on developing their company’s mission statement.

To be fair, this is important work as it helps to focus the organization but, in my experience, high-level mission statements do nothing to motivate frontline staff.

In fact, the Gallup organization found that only 20% of U.S. workers feel proud of or engaged by their company’s mission statement.

Most companies promote their mission by putting up posters, give out mouse pads and coffee cups. If that doesn’t work, they push managers to explain their precious mission differently so that it will finally sink in. They believe that once those darn employees finally get it life will be all sunshine & roses and profits will climb.

Sorry to tell you that this is not going to happen.

Why? Leaders think big & are future-focused, and workers are focused on very intimate, personal and local issues.

read about reaching leadership nirvana

Focus locally

When I ask workers what matters to them, they say what matters most is their ability to support their families, have good-paying jobs and hope to have a better life for their kids — and do what they can for their community.


When you have invested so much energy into that lofty mission statement, the idea of a local mission may not make sense. Because a corporate mission is supposed to give employees something big and important to believe in and work for: but employees connect to what they do every day; their team and the community in which they work.

I could list similar examples from around the world. But when I was a leader of a large NGO we had two mission statements, the official one – World Peace – and the local one – Every person who needs help will get it – and that was the one that inspires passion.

You must understand that the mission that matters most to your workers is the local one.

You’ll find it’s almost always about keeping the doors open and the community healthy.

My recommendation is to ask your workers what’s important to them:

  • What does it take to operate in their location?
  • What does the plant mean to the local community?
  • What would be lost if it went away?
  • Ask your workers to imagine the company closing; what would they do to keep the doors open and deliver on their mission?

Talk about the questions and the answers on the shop or office floor, and invite every worker to respond. Listen carefully to what they say, and craft their local missions.

read more about how to talk to your people

Then start doing those things — now before they don’t give a rat’s patootie about anything.