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My job-hunting co-worker is getting my promotion


My colleague is about to get a promotion – that should be mine – and I know he's looking for a job elsewhere. Should I say anything to our boss or will that just jeopardize my chances to get the promotion if he leaves?


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Bill Howatt

Howatt HR Consulting, Halifax

To state the obvious, it appears that you believe your colleague is a shoo-in for this promotion, and you believe you're a better choice.

Let's begin with the words "should be mine." If I could ask you one question, it would be, "Why are you a better choice?" Let's suppose you said something to your boss and he agreed with your point of view. Does that mean you would become the new heir-apparent? Are you sure?

I would discourage you from taking any action that could hurt your colleague, where your sole motivation is personal gain at his potential expense. At the end of the day, your colleague is doing nothing wrong. He may have a change of heart, or he may have been looking for more challenges. My advice to you is to let this play out and stay out of it.

Whether or not you agree with the reason your colleague was picked over you, I believe in the old saying, "The cream will rise to the top." You can only control your own actions.

For you to stay engaged and motivated I would suspect you will need to believe your organization will recognize your potential. If you want career advancement, tell your boss that climbing the ladder is important to you. If your colleague does leave, make sure your boss knows you are ready and want to advance your career to the next level.

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For now, the best use of your energy is to focus on what you can control, like your performance and results.


Doug Nathanson

Chief human resources officer at Canadian Tire

I would strongly advise against talking to your boss about your colleague's intentions. Promotion or not, divulging information about someone else's career plans – information that I suspect was told to you secondhand or confidentially – could reflect poorly on you. Even if you have your company's best interests at heart, it could be perceived as gossip or tattling, something generally frowned upon by school teachers and corporate managers alike. This could make you seem untrustworthy, unprofessional and resentful – the exact opposite of the impression you are trying to convey, particularly with a promotion on the line.

I also get the sense that there may be a disconnect between how you and your boss perceive your abilities. If your colleague does get the promotion, you need to appreciate the factors that led to that decision, whether or not you agree with them.

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Have you worked with your boss to develop professional goals for the year that clearly outline and measure your development ambitions? If not, I would recommend that you do so now and put an action plan in place that includes regular review sessions. Many companies offer a variety of career development tools like mentorship and volunteer programs, continuing education courses and targeted development plans, which you may also want to consider.

If you don't take the time now to discuss with your boss why you were not given the recognition you feel you deserve, you may find yourself in a similar frustrating situation not too far down the road.

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