There is almost nothing else as emotional as getting rejected for a promotion at work. It happened to me almost three years ago and sent me on a rollercoaster spiral of utter shock, rage, disbelief, anger, sadness, disappointment, betrayal and numbness. I felt discriminated against, completely passed over, and really began to regret all of the hard work I had been putting in for years.
I poured out my feelings in this post, How To Handle Being Denied A Promotion After My Boss Screwed Me Over, which is one of my most heartfelt and popular articles. Writing things out really helped me cope, but it ultimately took a long time for me to let go of my emotions and move on.
Rejected From A Promotion Stinks
I recently got the longest comment in Untemplater history on that very post and I want to share that reader’s story with you. To give you some context of how impressively long his comment was, most comments on Untemplater typically average less than 100 words and his was over 2,200 words! So you can imagine my eyes popping out when I saw the length and sincerity of this reader’s outpouring comment.
I strongly believe we can all become more compassionate, knowledgable and connected through sharing our personal experiences. Karl, who resides in the UK, worked in the pub industry for his entire career (referred to as licensed trade in the UK). Unfortunately, his manager screwed him over and rejected him for a supervisor position that he well deserved. Here’s Karl’s story in his own words:
Ok guys, This is a bit of a long one and it goes back quite a long time ago, but it’s still raw and I’m still fuming as it destroyed my career, so please bear with me. I’ll get there as quick as I can. I’m also interested in all points of view regardless of whether I like them or not. “Sugar coating” doesn’t really help anything in my opinion.
I should have done more quiet quitting after getting rejected from a promotion!
Story About How I Got Rejected From A Promotion
My career was in the licensed trade, and I’d had a lot of experience for someone of my age in terms of different facets of the industry. In fact there were only two that I hadn’t experience in.
So, a new pub/restaurant/motel opens and obviously while it’s being built they’re advertising for staff. I applied for the position of full-time bar person and at my interview the manager asked me what direction I saw my career going, to which I replied, “At some point in the future I’d like to be sat where you are” (remember that as it becomes very relevant later on). I was offered the position and accepted.
There were two full-time bar staff, my supervisor who was 5 years older than me (whom the management had brought over from a previous place), myself and seven other part-time bar staff (college students, semi-retired folk, all ages etc.).
My supervisor and I went to training at another pub (as we were the only two full-timers), and we got on well (still friends to this day). The manager at the training pub asked me to stay there, but I said I couldn’t because I was employed by the other place and I had to stay loyal (remember that for later).
My Skills Were Well Regarded And Sought After
So, the pub where I worked opened and all was going well. I continued to be sought after too. Two of the three management teams we went to training with, who were waiting for their own places to be ready to open, asked me to go with them as a supervisor to which I agreed, but my manager blocked both.
I’d also had somebody from another organisation come in while I was working, and ask me to go and work for him, which I thought about but declined. I also applied for another position with an affiliated company of my employer, which I got, but then decided against it as there was no long-term future in that particular role.
Obviously, I’d always had an eye out for when my immediate supervisor might be leaving. And when he wasn’t on duty, I was seen as the senior staff member.
An Opportunity For Promotion Presents Itself
After 18 months, my supervisor told us he was leaving and had handed in his notice, but wasn’t going for another 3 months. The only other person who could do the supervisor’s job at the time was me, so I don’t think it was unreasonable to think I might be in with a shout of promotion (do you?).
At the time, one of the part-time staff was doing a leisure and tourism course at college (he was older than my supervisor), but had no previous experience in the industry. Then one shift he walked past me with the manager, assistant manager and my supervisor and went into the back where the cellar and stock room are.
When I inquired about it later, he said the meeting was part of a module in his course. He was still on part-time hours so I didn’t suspect too much, and somebody else I knew had done the same course at a different college and confirmed having a meeting like that was a small part of it. But, it did raise an eyebrow.
At this point, it’s about a month before my supervisor leaves (for the past two months my supervisor seemed unhappy and preoccupied with something) and still nobody had spoken to me about a promotion. I still wasn’t too worried because I was already trained up.
Then, two weeks before my supervisor’s due to leave, the roster goes up in the staff room and the writing is different (the only people who do the roster are the supervisor, assistant manager or manager). Strange.
An Unexpected Blow: I Was Denied The Promotion
A few days later I ended up in the hospital with a medical emergency for just over two weeks. On the day before I’m released, my best friend (who also works there – I got him the job) comes in to visit me and says have you heard? … “A” is the new supervisor.
I was disgusted and absolutely furious especially considering the previous offers I’d had, the loyalty I’d shown and the times my supervisor blocked my advancement – I thought maybe he was keeping hold of me for promotion? A few days before I went back to work, I went in on my crutches for a drink and one of the bar staff (one of his “chums”) said to me with a big smug grin all over her face, “I’ll bet you’re pissed off aren’t you?”
I said, “No, I know why I didn’t get it, and I’m happy with that. You don’t.” (I deserved an Oscar for that perfomance, because damn right I was mega pissed off and had no idea why I didn’t get it! But I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of seeing that). Then the manager came around the corner and “Hiya, you ok?” as if nothing had happened!
The Ugly Truth About Getting Rejected For A Promotion
My first day back, my old supervisor came in for a visit and asked if he could have a word. I sat down and he said “I’m sorry for what happened to you and the way it was done. I was very uncomfortable with it. I didn’t agree with it and thought you deserved to know. I was told that if I told you this I’d lose my job immediately, and I wasn’t the only one thought you should’ve been told.”
I asked him “did you have a say in who got it?” And he said, “I was asked, and said of course you should get it. You were the natural successor. It’s why you were there. The guy who was promoted over you was in training when you weren’t on shift. It just wasn’t put on the rota in case you figured out what was going on.”
I asked why and he said, “The manager didn’t want you leaving if you found out because it would’ve left him without any full-time staff, and not enough part-time staff to cover.” I thanked him for coming in and telling me (he didn’t have to do that and I’ve got an immense amount of respect for him for that. It took balls as we say in the UK). He also told me that the area manager questioned why the other guy was promoted over me.
What’s The Point Of Voting If The Loser Ends Up Winning?
I then asked how the other guy was chosen and he said, “It was a vote. I said you, the assistant manager said you, and the manageress said you. The assistant manageress went for the other guy as did the manager.”
Wait a minute. I said, “So it was three to two in my favor and I didn’t get it! Then what was the bloody point of a vote?!” He said, “I know, that’s what I thought. It’s only fair to warn you that it caused one hell of a row between the manager and the manageress, so be careful.”
I said, “After the way I’ve been treated and now knowing how devious, deceptive, and underhanded they can be, do you really think I’m gonna turn my back so I can get another knife between my shoulder blades?” He said, “No, but just be aware.”
Facing The Enemy Head On
Now comes the positive if you can call it that.
My new supervisor pulled me aside and said very piously, “I know you’re probably disappointed, but is it going to be a problem?” So I said, “I’ll say what I’ve got to say and then it’s done. It doesn’t need to be mentioned again.”
He said, “ok, go on,” so I continued: “We both know you shouldn’t have got it. The way it was done was an absolute disgrace. If they can do that to me they can do it to you, remember that. I’ve got more experience. I was the full-timer (the kicker is I actually trained this scumbag when he started and all the other part-time staff!) and it was part of my career (this guy never even wanted a career in the licensed trade! It was just a part-time gig for him!). The situation is what it is, and we’ll make the best of it. You’re my boss and I’ll respect that and do what you ask of me. But don’t try to undermine me or make me look stupid. I deserve a little bit of respect.” He said “ok.”
Then the assistant manager came in and said, “I understand you’re probably very pissed off, and for what it’s worth I think you’ve got every right to be, but try not to let it get to you.” He also confirmed what my original supervisor told me.
Watching The Dust Settle After Getting Denied A Promotion
Then the best bit: after the dust settled, I got assigned all the shi##y jobs, unless the manageress was on, in which case my new supervisor got all the shitty jobs. The manageress openly stated, “I don’t know what the hell *** was thinking promoting him over you.”
She openly showed contempt for him, and always asked me to do the more important jobs. And yes, I did allow myself a little smile, lol. She stood in my corner for me when she didn’t have to. It created problems for her, but she still did it. I’m very grateful for that and respect her for it, and always will.
None of the customers liked the new supervisor. They all favoured me, and were always asking the manager why he promoted the other guy over me. This made the manager very uncomfortable and squirm in his shoes (and yes I allowed myself another smile, lol).
Burned Yet Again And Given The Ax!
Not longer after I started being asked to help the manager with the paperwork at the end of the night (which only supervisors did btw. I’d done it before on a few occasions). But then, my supervisor started dropping my hours to less than part-time hours and gave more to his friend. I mentioned this to the manager and my hours went back up for a few weeks, but then they dropped again. I also overheard the supervisor and his friend saying, “Don’t worry, we’ll get rid of him somehow.” The nerve.
A few weeks later, I booked a night off, which my supervisor agreed to. The next morning I was at work and the manager called me down to his office. Looking very uncomfortable, he sacked me for not turning up to work the previous night! I told him I booked it off and he said it wasn’t in the diary (and it wasn’t). This was only two weeks before I would have completed two years of service (at that time in the UK that would’ve given me full employment rights; it’s now six months). I couldn’t believe it.
I said, “Have you ever known me to just not turn up? I’ve shown you nothing but loyalty and you don’t even have the basic professional courtesy to inform me that I’m passed over for a part-timer, despite knowing that this is my career and he wasn’t even interested in one?”
My Manager’s Nonsensical Excuses
He said, “Since we’ve been open, there have been 29 promotions and you haven’t been considered for one” (trying to self justify his treatment of me). I said, “I’d only have been interested in one. Aside from me turning down other offers from outside the company, if you had no intention of promoting me then why did you block transfers to new places with other managers?”
He said, “I like to keep my problems in house!” WTF! I continued, “Did it ever occur to you that maybe this place IS the problem? I want to progress, you knew that, and your stifling me. You’re holding me back without any reasonable explanation. If I was such a problem, then why did you block my promotion and tranfers? I would’ve been gone then and so would any perceived problem. Also, if that’s the case why didn’t you fire me earlier? What you’re saying makes no sense whatsoever. You’re contradicting yourself.”
He just said, “I’ve made my decision and that’s it.” So i said, “Ok, but I’ll be appealing because it’s unfair. And by the way, the bloke you promoted over me – he’ll cock things up and he’ll let you down. I give it six months,” and walked out.
I appealed, had a meeting with the manager and the area manager (whom I always got on really well with and who also looked very sheepish), but they said, “We’ve decided not to give you your job back.” I said, “What a shock” and walked out.
What happened made me sick to my stomach, and I vowed never to work in that industry again. Apart from helping a friend out on a few occasions I never have.
P.S. The guy who got promoted over me… I was bang on. I was right. He cocked it up and left after just 5 months (and yes, I did smile when I found out! Lol)
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