BLUF: What is the most professional way to respond to: "Why didn't you get the promotion?" from bosses and peers?

A co-team member and myself were qualified for a management position on our team. The hiring manager added frequent travel to the prerequisites for the position which I am not willing to do (not a good tradeoff for my family). Co-team member got the job.

Now I'm constantly fielding questions from bosses and peers on why I wasn't promoted. The previous manager had delegated significant management work to me for years so I understand why people are surprised that this wasn't my natural next step.

What is the appropriate response to these questions? My deep disappointment about having to pass on this opportunity isn't helping.

HMac's picture

"It wasn't a good fit. Once we had scoped out the specifics of the assignments, it turned out not be exactly right."

Comment: Although your reasoning - about travel - is fine, I wouldn't share it. People in the company don't NEED to know that the travel burden was unacceptable to you: you're giving them information they could misinterpret about you, or that could be invalid some day in the future if your personal circumstances change.

So, keep it short, professional, and matter-of-fact. It wasn't a fit.


kklogic's picture

I'd also add, "Susie is terrific and I know she's going to do a great job."

AManagerTool's picture

It would be very easy to put a negative spin on it....DON'T.

Hugh and KK gave it all to you. All I can add is SMILE when you say it. Look sincere. People will read your expression when you say the that it wasn't a good fit and try to determine whether you got snubbed or if you are OK with it and they will talk. Most likely they will exaggerate whatever you give them. Saying anything without sincere happiness and smiles will feed the rumor mill and get back to your boss.

Peer to peer:
"You know that 208 isn't happy about the boss not promoting her"
Peer 2:
"Really, I thought they told me they were fine with it"
"Well, they didn't LOOK fine about it. She told me she was OK but that's not how she LOOKED"

Sooner or later, there is talk around the office that you are going to quit! You think I'm exaggerating? Go ahead, test it. Tell one person while smiling and tell another while looking down and shuffling your feet.

[size=24] :D [/size]

208001354's picture

Thanks to all of you for your replies. Great points on keeping my reply simple and professional as well as watching my attitude.

HMac's picture

Now do what you can to help the person who [i]did [/i]get it to succeed, and take heart in the fact that you are a candidate for promotion at your company.

Good luck!