I thought I was in line for a promotion to a leadership role, and with my supervisor's encouragement, I invested my time and money in developing my skills and took on more responsibility. My supervisor just told me the promotion is on hold due to unforeseen organizational changes and not my abilities. I am feeling frustrated and wondering if my efforts were wasted and if I should consider moving to another employer.
I understand your disappointment. but don't let this setback derail your career aspirations. Your investment in your professional development is not lost. You can still put it to good work. Here are a few thoughts to get you back on track:
Clarify your goal: Don't limit your goal to just one particular opportunity. If the goal is strictly to get "this promotion," then it stops there. But if it's a broader objective of obtaining a leadership role, then there are other avenues to explore.
Reflect on the lost opportunity What did you find attractive in the role that you would want to include in your next job? If you could design the most optimal next step, what would be included?
Write a goal statement: Write a detailed goal statement that identifies what you want in your next role. What stretch opportunities would entice you? In what kind of work culture do you thrive best? What areas of responsibility do you want to take on? Consider both leadership and other aspects of work - for example, leading a bigger team? Being involved in marketing or research? Obtaining international experience? Getting into a new sector or industry?
You've been working hard this past year - identify the skills, strengths and notable accomplishments that are now part of your leadership capacity. Write it out and refer back to this list often - and update it as you continue to develop. You will need this to update your résumé and engage in career conversations, interviews, and so on.
Update your résumé
You have a more compelling story to tell. Be ready! Update your résumé to reflect this enhanced capacity and experience. Whether you seek opportunities elsewhere or focus within your existing organization, updating your résumé will give you more confidence and self-awareness so that you can better promote yourself.
Make your aspirations known
Your supervisor was supportive of your promotion and may still be an ally in your career development. Talk to her about your career aspirations (beyond the promotion) and collaboratively explore a career development path that would be meaningful for you. Are there other roles in the organization you hadn't considered? New projects to further develop specific skills? Would your employer be willing to sponsor additional training? Whether you choose to grow your career internally or eventually look elsewhere, having a career plan that recognizes your potential and supports your development will engage you more fully. You will also feel assured that you are moving forward on a path and not stagnating.
Cast a wider net
With clarity on your goal and what you now have to offer, you may decide to cast a wider net beyond your organization as you explore career opportunities. Create a plan to network and research opportunities that would be attractive to you. No matter how comfortable you are in a role or organization, it is always a good idea to keep the radar open to opportunities and to develop a strong network of professional and personal relationships that may be valuable in your career and professional development.
Acknowledge the lesson
When we don't get something we want very much, there can be a silver lining. The retrenching and re-evaluation the disappointment forces us to do can reveal other possibilities. If you go through this reflection and planning process, you will have more clarity and may even end up with a much more meaningful goal than the one you started out with.
Ultimately it's up to you. Go to it!
Eileen Chadnick is a certified coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching.