Passed over for promotion? Take the high road

Marie G. McIntyre
Tribune News Service

Q. During my last performance review, I told my supervisor that I hoped to replace her when she retired. When I asked if she had any suggestions for achieving that goal, she said there was nothing else I needed to do. As soon as she announced her retirement date, I applied for the position.

Even though there were other applicants, I believed I was clearly the most qualified. I not only have 20 years experience and excellent appraisal ratings, but I am also the team lead for our group. So I was shocked when management announced that “Danny” would become the new supervisor.

Danny worked with our team a few years ago, but he was not a good fit and eventually transferred to another department. Many people have said they were surprised by his selection because they expected me to be promoted. Now I’m in the awkward position of having to report to Danny and I’m not sure how to handle it.

A. Although your disappointment is completely understandable, there is only one way to “handle it.” You must swallow your pride and face this new reality with professionalism and grace. The alternative is to publicly exhibit your true feelings, which would not be to your benefit.

Qualified or not, Danny is now your boss, so you need to respect his position even if you don’t admire him personally. Any display of frustration, anger or resistance will only convince management that promoting you would have been a mistake. And that’s not a conclusion you want them to reach.

Promotional decisions can be difficult, and you have no idea how close you may have come. Unsuccessful applicants who make a strong impression are often considered for other opportunities. However, to find out where you stand, you need to get some feedback.

Without protesting this decision or complaining about Danny, ask some appropriate managers how you might become a stronger promotional candidate. If they praise your potential, that bodes well. But if they express concerns about your readiness, at least you’ll know what you need to work on.

Q. I run a small business and try to be generous with giving my employees paid time off because I truly believe in work-life balance. However, my employees often return from vacation exhausted and unable to concentrate on their work. How should I address this problem?

A. Kudos to you for recognizing that employees need leisure time. But when vacation is over, you have every right to expect their full attention so don’t hesitate to make this expectation clear.

For example: “I’ve noticed that after taking vacation, you frequently seem tired and have difficulty focusing on work. Although I believe time off is important, I need everyone to be fully engaged when they come back. How can we avoid this problem in the future?”

If everyone shows up in a post-holiday stupor, you can appropriately make this a group discussion. But if only a few people are guilty, then you need to have individual conversations. Managers should never chastise an entire group for the sins of a few members.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

Twitter: @officecoach