The hardest part of being a leader is promoting an employee internally when there are more than one viable candidate for the position. The fact of the matter is someone is going to get that job, and one or more are not. That usually ends with one of your really good employees being pissed off.
I’ve read countless articles on how to handle this situation and they’re mostly crap, and I think written by people who have, 1. Never actually dealt with this situation and/or 2. Never be turned down for a promotion they truly felt they deserved!
For some reason the the Dallas Cowboys current quarterback situation reminds me of this issue. Rookie Dax Prescott came in when Tony Romo got hurt. He’s been awesome and the Cowboys are currently one of the best teams in the NFL. Tony Romo, a great quarterback in his own right, is now no longer injured and ready to return. Almost every team in the NFL would love having Tony Romo start for them.
So, it’s a bit different from the promotion scenario, but not really. Tony should be promoted into the role of starting quarterback. He’s proven, he’s good, he used to be the starter, but he’s not going to. In his absence, they found a replacement that is really good as well and you don’t want to screw up that chemistry.
Here’s what I really like about Romo. He came out and became the ‘team’ guy. He’s letting everyone know, including Dax, this isn’t about Tony Romo, this is about the Dallas Cowboys winning the Super Bowl. He’s supporting Dax and the team to keep winning and will do whatever it takes to make that happen, including supporting them on the sidelines and not playing. Oh boy, you know that’s tough for him to say!
Not getting a promotion at your job, feels exactly what Tony Romo is feeling. Don’t kid yourself about the money. He would play for free this year if he could win a Super Bowl. You really, really wanted that promotion, but someone else got it. Probably, someone you feel you’re as good as, or maybe even a bit better, but the ‘team’ choose to pick someone else for that role.
You have a choice to make:
- Be disgruntled and pissed off, believing you got screwed, probably leave the company, eventually.
- Be that ‘team’ player. Keep being the high performing employee that got you in a position to be considered for promotion, and support your peers, waiting for your next opportunity.
Most people will choose number one.
In almost every single situation in a corporate environment where I’ve been a part of these decisions, no matter how hard we tried to let the other person know how valued they are and what are our plan was to get them to that level they desired, they still choice to go the route of number one. It takes a really strong person to go the route of number two and be Tony Romo.
In the end, choosing to go the path of number two actually says more about you as a leader, than your actual performance as an employee.