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6 Questions to Uncover and Benefit From When Passed Over at Work

Paul Godines

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This is likely to happen to happen to all of us at one time or another, despite our best efforts. We all see ourselves as giving our best at work at least most of the time, however promotions, perks, pay raises, and other benefits do not as a rule go to those whom we feel deserve them, including ourselves.

The shock of being passed over makes us feel stunned, rejected, and uncertain about what happened and unclear about what influence we have in the process. So how can you find out why you may have been passed over?

Your purpose behind asking these questions is not to grill the decision maker and argue your points regarding their poor decision. Instead you should take your rejection and use it to demonstrate yet another reason why you bring value to the team.


1. Ask who the decision maker(s) are?

Ask around if you don't know who makes the final decision for this promotion. If you're asked why you want to know say that you see yourself as a candidate for that position and you would like to know what the decision makers requirements for this position are.

2. What was the determining factor(s) that led them to pass you over?

Often the decision makers will take a few moments to share their insights with you if you reassure them that you are interested in using this opportunity to improve your performance.

3. Ask them if you changed the factors that they listed would they have made a different decision regarding your promotion?

It's important to know if the factors they listed were not holding you back would you have gotten the promotion. If they say NO than you need to ask why? At this point they may list a few more objections to your being promoted. Again ask if those were changed would I have been promoted? You need to get to the root of their objections if any to your being promoted.

4. Ask if something were to change with the successful candidate would you be the top contender for that position?

If they say No ask who would be and why. Again you need to get to the root of their objections. Now I know that many of you may be thinking that your Managers won't let you grill them regarding their decisions. You will need to approach these question in a casual and relaxed manner but let them know that you want to be candid and hope that they will open and forthright with in return. Share with them that you want to know what exactly you can do to improve your value to the Team effort and it's important for you to know what you can do to improve that goal.

5. Ask them what other positions they see you growing into and why?

Maybe they see you as a Manager and not a Supervisor, maybe they see you moving laterally and not vertically. That just might be a good thing for you, maybe you're on nights, and they offer you a great day time job. If you don't ask you won't know, it's important to not make negative assumptions without evidence.

6. Ask them if they feel they made the best choice?

This may seem obvious however they may reveal evidence to the contrary, they may say “Not really but he has more seniority than you" That's what you want to hear, it's not you it's the rules or the system that forced their hand.


After you have the answers to your questions, you should make notes regarding your discussions. List who you spoke to and when and what you spoke about. What you will do with this information is hold it until the time is right to remind them of what they said. An example would be when you are up for promotion again, say “Do you remember last September Bill you and I spoke about my being the best candidate for that Engineering Job?" He is not likely to disagree with something he said; you will also have a complete list of the expected and likely requirements needed to receive your promotion.

Good Luck, let me know if I can help

Paul Godines from Adapt on a Dime Consulting wants to ask you if you have career goals? If so tell me about them I'm interested to here how I might be able to help.


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