THE very first thing you need to do is find out why you haven’t been promoted, so make an appointment with your manager. Your attitude is key. Hard as it may be, don’t be defensive about it – look at it as a learning opportunity and approach it in a positive manner. If you go in there aggressively they’re going to fob you off and you won’t get useful feedback.
You need to have a willingness to listen and get some good pointers as to what areas you can improve going forwards. It might be about skills and experience, or it might be about personality fit – in which case, the feedback might be uncomfortable. But remember, it is how they perceive you, and that’s information you want.
Then you have to work out if it’s worth staying. If you go in there with good grace and just get the brush off, then it’s probably time to go. But approach it in a partnership state of mind – if you’ve gone for the promotion you’re clearly committed to the company and see yourself as having a future there, and that will be noted.
It also depends on how wide of the mark you were. If it was a close thing, you can take comfort from the fact that you’re valued and next time may be better. If you were nowhere near, then it could be a wake up call for you – perhaps you’re not going to get what you want with this company.
The worst thing you could do is to sit there and sulk about it – in that case you might as well go, because it’s going to affect your work anyway. Successful people are people who’ve had failures and setbacks, but they’ve kept on learning from them and trying. Unsuccessful people are the ones who have a setback and then give up without trying to find out why, and then address it.
If you’re ambitious and talented, but not quite ready yet, this is a great opportunity to find out what you need, but you have to be prepared to see it that way. You learn by mistakes and feedback, and this is one of the best opportunities you can have to pick that up and grow.