Q: I’m pretty angry with my company because I keep getting passed over for promotions and new opportunities; I’ve been here three years already. What should I do?

Share story

Q: I’m pretty angry with my company because I keep getting passed over for promotions and new opportunities. I’ve been here three years already. What should I do?

A: Think through root causes to figure out ways to move ahead.

The inner game

To start, take a step back and think about the big picture. I’m wondering if this is as personal as it sounds from your question. Does your company have a fast track for some relatively new employees, or is this actually the typical pace for promotion? It’s worth taking a good look at whether your reaction fits the situation.

If you conclude that yes, in fact, most of the people at your level have moved up, this will call for some introspection on the reasons that you may be lagging. This can be uncomfortable, but if you don’t do it, you may find you have a negative pattern in your own behavior that’s holding you back. Your reaction of anger is a bit of a red flag; is anger your default response to adversity? If so, consider whether it’s serving you well.

Reflect on what’s most important to you at work. Setting aside your frustration at not moving up, how well are your other needs being met? To what extent is your desire for new opportunities driven by boredom and need for new challenges? Also think about other aspects of company culture, people, mission and work environment. Your goal for this reflection is to remain mindful of the positives at work, and also to not let your anger mask other ways that your current position may not suit you.

The outer game

Feedback is going to be important for you in understanding your status and opportunities. If you haven’t gotten clear, direct feedback from your boss that would explain why you haven’t advanced, it’s time to ask for it. If it turns out that there is a performance or style issue holding you back, be sure to keep your cool when you’re discussing it. If you get defensive, you’ll close down the feedback, and possibly reinforce any negative impression of you.

You may find out that your boss is surprised by your frustration because you’re on a typical path for your company. If so, it’ll be in your interest to decide if the pace works for you, or if you want to find a different opportunity at your company or elsewhere. In that case, be careful not to burn bridges. In fact, your boss may be a good resource if you approach the topic as looking for help with building your career.

This outreach may also be all you need to help you advance. If you’ve been quiet about what you want, your boss may not even realize you’re dissatisfied and now will have a chance to help. Remember that advancement is your responsibility, and step forward to suggest projects you could do and volunteer when opportunities come along.

And don’t let this consume your life. Remember to have fun and keep balance in your life. Workplace frustrations will be much more manageable.

The last word

Let go of anger and get proactive in driving your career.

Submit questions to Liz Reyer at liz@deliverchange.com.