Why am I always passed over for promotion at work?

Friday February 14 2020


By Caroline Mboijana

A colleague with less experience was promoted over me, and is beginning to act too bossy and mean. I trained her and other new colleagues. I work very hard, and even work extra hours. I am passionate about my job and always there when my boss needs me. I sometimes voluntarily work even on our days off and the only one who responds when my boss asks that we work extra days to hit targets. My boss says I am hardworking, reliable, and good with new employees. Whenever there is a crisis, she asks me to sit in. However, when an opportunity for promotion comes, I am passed over. I feel so sad and unappreciated. Winnie

Dear Winnie,
It is only natural to feel disappointed at not being appreciated and being passed over for promotion. While I empathise, please don’t have a self-pity party and feel sorry for yourself.

You need to step back and conduct some self-reflection. You need to critically reflect on why you didn’t get the promotion, in spite of all the extra effort you put into delivering your goals.

Promotion is usually based on performance and delivery of your targets in the most efficient and consistent manner. If we take this as the principle, the self-reflection in this context will cause you to ask yourself some questions.

Why are you working the extra hours, is it to complete work that you have not completed during the working day or is there too much work? If the work is too much have you asked for additional support? How often are you volunteering to work on your day off and why?

When you say your “boss needs you” are they asking for your contribution or are you doing “other work”? When you are asked to “sit in” during a crisis meeting, are you participating in the discussion and providing a solution?


If the answer is yes where are you adding value and to whom? Once you have answered those questions, I suggest you speak with your supervisor and ask for constructive feedback. The feedback should be reviewed alongside your answers so that you get a clear picture. Be open to finding the solutions, it could also be that it is time for you to move onto a new job.

Caroline Mboijana
Managing Director
The Leadership Team (U)