Asked if It Was Okay for Another Person to Take a Promotion First. Seeking Advice

Hey Ozbargain,

At work I was asked by a manager if it was okay if someone else can get temporary promotion due to a work colleague going on extended leave. My temporary promotion will occur “later at the end of the year”.

There were talks with the manager that there was a possibility for me to get promoted a few times last year if I worked well and I waited patiently…I have worked hard despite staff shortages and am disappointed that I would need to wait more months to get promoted….so I am kind of at lost for words. I know my manager favours this person and there is a likelihood that I will never see this promotion.

I did ask if there was a reason the person could have temporary promotion first rather than me since the manager said I was equally suitable for promotion. I was told that it was a management decision.

I would like to ask for some advice….I don’t feel motivated to work…do I suck it up and hope for promotion again or take leave and find another job?

I am disappointed :( since I have been in this role for two years and nearing three years. My role is not challenging anymore and I am not learning new skills….

TLDR: manager promises multiple times for promotion and promotion does not occur….was asked by the same manager if it is okay to let someone else have the promotion and for me to have it at end of the year


  • +23 votes

    there is a likelihood that I will never see this promotion.

    That likelihood is absolute certainty

    • This.

    • :( That’s what has made me so upset and I tried to be calm since I was told by phone….the person who is being promoted is a new person too. I don’t blame the person getting promoted.
      , I actually am happy for them but I can’t deny how disappointed I am with management.

      I am so confused why they think it’s okay…

  • I did ask if there was a reason the person could have temporary promotion first rather than me since the manager said I was equally suitable for promotion. I was told that it was a management decision.

    was asked by the same manager if it is okay to let someone else have the promotion and for me to have it at end of the year

    Hay mate, if you do end up accepting this tell them that "since management has decided you will get a promotion near the end of the year, you would like this decision in writing with the exact date management has decided that the promotion will occur". At the very least you'll know when its coming, or if they can't give it to you, you can argue "how can you accept later in the year if they can't guarantee when that will be".

    Whether you accept it or not you should always look for newer better opportunities, even if you loved your work.

    • Thank you @trustnoone!!

      Thank you for the advice, yes I definitely would like it in writing….if it’s not in writing again I am pretty certain the manager would extend the promotion period for the other person and give an excuse for it eg the person is doing so well and I am short staffed I need this person…

      I really do love my job :( even though it’s not related to my accounting degree. It’s a secure gov job and there’s some work incentives.

      I get so many compliments from clients and I work hard to meet their needs. Management keep telling me that I have excellent customer service skills/written skills and that I excel in parts of my work..and to keep going and produce good work then this phone call makes my heart sink :(..

      I will definitely try to find employment elsewhere. I have lost my trust…either that or maybe ask if I could do part time and take extended leave to find something else.

      The phone call was just so odd, am I supposed gladly accept this or it did not seem like I can choose to decline otherwise it would be petty of me…

      • Can try, but I don't think you'll succeed in getting that promise down in writing :( I'd say it's very bad form for them to even ask if you are ok with it - this is not like jumping the queue in a supermarket and asking do you mind.

        Like what others have said, best to leave unless you find a compelling reason to stay that does not have to do with getting promotions or a pay rise. Eg job security, stability

      • Ah, Government job, that explains everything. 100% says the person getting the promotion is related to/friends of/or related to a friend of your manager.

        • I disagree, it really depends on the department and their role.

          I have seen far more egregious promotions in private sector than in government, its so regimented and organised in most gov sectors that your pay raises and promotions are basically decided years ahead of time.

          Have seen plenty of promotion carrots dangled in private sector that are never fulfilled though.

      • If it is a Government job, and there is a relationship between the person getting the promotion and the manager, there should be people you could talk to about it. My understanding is Government jobs need to be gazetted so everyone can apply for them. It might be why the manager talked to you to ensure you didn’t make a fuss. Worth a few, discrete, enquires anyway.

      • Government job promotion usually means a small pay increase and also more responsibilities right. Do you really want to be going to more useless meetings whilst getting afew thousand dollars extra a year? You will then be stuck in middle management and when next restructure comes, every 4-5 years, those are the first ones to get cut.

        You wonder why all the ppl who worked long time in government are either completely unmotivated and blending in with the furniture or just won’t survive in the real worlds so they stick around. I would just go along with it and if you really not happy then start looking for job elsewhere in the background but also consider it getting promotion is really all the fantastic.

  • I dont have advice but I am angry and I have to say my sentiments

    wtf they're taking you for (profanity) granted that is absolute bullshit!

    You need to step up and talk back, what the hell. You need to threaten them (in a non-forward way), "I do x, x and X for this damn company and I get shit-all"

    How is this other person who is favoured different to you? Have they been there longer? Ugh anyways, if they speak like that to you, know that you gotta go quick and fast from that place - get moving quick

    • The person has been with us for a year and they weren’t supposed to hire anyone else but my team were so short staffed. We had a two person team for a couple of months and we were suffering the consequences of long hours of work and not being able to take leave otherwise we would fall behind in our work.

      I was told that length of time with the workplace is not a factor they considered. So it was purely because they really wanted to go with this person first.

  • +12 votes

    Looks like they are stringing you along, knowing you do the work well, its like an endless carrot in front of your face that will never eventuate. Time to go elsewhere.

  • Is this a public sector job, higher duties? Well, if it is, they are not filling by recruiting, there isn’t much you can do, unless you want to burn your bridges. Then there is a lot you can do.

  • Poor “leadership” from your manager imo
    Even asking you if it’s ok. What’s your power in this interaction? What did you say when he/she asked? What would happen if you were to say it wasn’t ok? Or “you know what mr/ms manager, I appreciate you coming to me and asking, but the reality is you told me multiple times last year this promotion was coming for me, and now you’re indicating it isn’t? And at the same time asking me if it’s ok for someone else to get it (which indicates you know the situation is awkward).” Like I could go on and bring in ‘how can I continue to trust what you say etc etc” but I mean I wouldn’t recommend you bring all this into the conversation unless you have that open relationship (unlikely)
    I guess I wouldn’t be sitting quietly patiently by the sideline while you get screwed over or lied to by your boss but

    • This….I really hate these phone calls because I feel I have no say in the decision most times.

      I am actually proud I was daring enough to ask why the person gets promoted first over me (I mean it is a genuine question after all), The manager was put on a spot and replied “it was a management decision”.

      • Yeh the trouble with saying “it was a management decision” is its passing the buck.
        What does it mean? What are the details behind the ‘management decision’? Or were they too passive to actually involve themselves? Why couldn’t they influence the situation?

        I don’t buy ‘leaders’ deferring difficult decisions that impact their people off on ‘management’ or the leaders above them, they need to own it. If it was out of his/her control, they need to share that with you and then you can discuss what might be within your/their control and influence that can help.
        Imo poor leadership

        Being a manager is hard work and isn’t suited to everyone, but there’s enough here to suggest your manager is not facing into and owning the difficult conversations.

  • Put yourself first, whether that is looking for a new job or enjoying your time off rather than working extra hours. Ask your employer to provide you with some external training if your position is stagnant.

    With Jan coming to a close, should be a good time to start seeing what other jobs are out there?

  • Yeah don't think you are even going to get any kind of promotion if they already choose somebody else?

  • There's always potential to have issue with management when their decision doesn't align with yours or when words are just words.

    This will happen at all workplaces.

    So changing jobs doesn't mean you'll get a better manager.

  • I would start looking for a new company. At, the very least, sit down and write up a CV.

    Work out what you are doing, how marketable you are, what you want to achieve and start looking around for what positions are available. See what areas you might need to improve to increase your marketability. Don’t leave in a huff unless you have a, viable, exit strategy. If you do get another job then be gracious when you exit, it is never a good idea to make enemies, word gets around.

    Good luck.

  • Just start applying for manager jobs at other companies. Once you get one quit and be glad to have left the negative environment you are in.

    It’s quite insulting to be asked if it’s ok to promote somebody else and not you. They may as well slap you in the face.

    • I cried a lot, I definitely felt hurt

      • I’m sorry you had to go through that. You can do better, the job hunt starts today! Companies do not value loyalty these days - often the only way to progress is to switch jobs.

  • They may want you to leave so they could be trying to annoy you on purpose.

    Either way if you want that promotion and it isn't happening right now, then find another job and leave, maybe even straight up tell them unless you get it, you will be looking for another job.

    start wearing suits to work and leaving at 3pm.

  • You know you've been (profanity) over, OP.

    I'd recommend you bookmark this post and come back to it later on this year after you've gotten a new job.

    All so that you can look back and happily reflect on the decision you made to finally get out.

  • I have been in this position and I found another job. In my resignation letter I put down the reasons like you had and I said i would reconsider if they gave dates about promotion in writing. It took them a week to get back to me and said okay we will do it, but it took them another week to get the letter to me.
    I said I have reconsidered and as it took so long and the new job was with a bigger company I was still leaving.

    They will not look after you, so make sure you only do the hours you are paid for until you find another job as they have proven they will not look after you.

  • Ummm not to be rude. But are you even ready to be a manager? You seem very emotional and passive about this whole thing. As a potential manager you should be running this whole show and putting your opinion forward. Where I have worked, the management usually run the show and tell upper management what they need, it’s not the other way around. If this manager called you to ask if you were ok with this decision, why didn’t you say no? I would have just said I’m not ok with it, make your own decision, but it should be me getting promoted not this new person - I should get promoted because of this list of reasons.

    It’s probably a bit too late to take that approach now.

    • Far too late, that approach only works if you're confident/ready enough to deploy it there & then.

      Even so, I would have started looking for other job offers, and went back to them as a follow-up ultimatum; Promotion with a pay increase, or I leave based on offers received.

      I've done this in the past with a job I wanted to stay in, and 'management' caved, giving ~10% pay increase (37% tax rate, at a time they were offering others ~2.5%), modified reporting (autonomy) so that I bypassed the 'new' manager reporting directly to the VP.

      In the end I received a healthy wage increase, became effectively my own boss, and kept doing the same work (no BS manager, endless meeting nonsense).

      The new 'manager' received a lower wage, and with it the endless meetings, and other managerial tasks that I never had any interest in, or wanted.

      You have to know your worth, and be happy to fight for it even if it means leaving.

      In the long-run 'upper/exec management' in such companies, show greater respect for someone that displays such attributes.

      • Far too late, that approach only works if you're confident/ready enough to deploy it there & then. In the long-run 'upper/exec management' in such companies, show greater respect for someone that displays such attributes.

        I completely agree. Also you are right you cannot implement this in hindsight, it’s too late at that point. But I think it’s almost a necessary attribute in a lot of management roles to be able to implement this on the spot and see the writing on the wall. Particularly when you are managing large teams of people, you have to have confidence and forward thinking so when things pop up completely left field, you can steer the ship in the right direction and manage the outcome. Most people promoted to managerial positions have this ability or characteristic before they are in the role.

  • I read David Goggin's book 'Can't Hurt Me' and never looked back.

  • Your name is Mat and they walked all over you

    Obviously you aren't management material in their eyes. Will you ever be?
    I would be fuming if a new comer got promoted before me after I did all the hard yards.
    Trust works both ways and they don't trust you in management
    Don't fall for their lies anymore
    Look after number one YOURSELF time for a new job where you will be rewarded not used like this company is doing, how long are you going to be fed this crap to keep you in line?

  • or take leave and find another job?

    100% this.
    I never believe work place promises from managers. ALWAYS look after yourself, never mind the years you've worked with a manger/owner. They will ALWAYS choose their own interests over yours. They will always look after the business first and then your concerns.

    and you should do the same with yourself. Easy. Don't be 'nice' with handing in your notice early. They will always find every little way to save costs and reduce expenses.

  • I believe a person's personality / character is shaped by the way they act and think in a given situation, so I won't say what you should do but this is what I would do / have done in similar situations.

    My role is not challenging anymore and I am not learning new skills….

    In the profession I'm in, the top firms are all pretty similar, except their people and cultures are different. So when I was in the same position and not being promoted, I changed employers, otherwise my career progression was stalling. I sometimes managed to join at a higher level, ie, promotion through changing employers.

    manager promises multiple times for promotion and promotion does not occur

    I place a lot of emphasis on trust in the workplace. Empty promises would motivate me to move.

    do I suck it up and hope for promotion again or take leave and find another job?

    For me, I set a limit, eg, if I'm not being promoted this round, then I'm going. However, obviously this depends on a few things, eg, how easy you can find a better job, current pay. I found that in my early working years, the best pay increases occurred when I changed employers. However, once again it depends on current conditions, ie, demand and supply in the area you are working in. It also depends on where you are in life. I once accepted a job with less pay which had more potential for more exciting work, better conditions, better culture, better team. The drop in pay was only temporary. Also, for extra security, I job hunted while still working. I felt more secure knowing I accepted a new role before exiting. There was nothing to stop me looking while working. It also allowed me to see what was being offered in similar roles, so when a better position came along, there was really nothing holding me back.

    Good luck!

  • It's not a promotion, it's higher duties while somebody is absent from that role.

    If you've been overlooked several times I'd look for another job. If this is the first time I'd give them one more chance. I would also ask for greater feedback on career prospects and timelines at your 6 monthly performance revue and goal setting interview.

    Keep in mind that if you want honest feedback you might not like what you are told.

  • Since they asked you it’s probably time that you told them that you aren’t ok with this. Don’t get emotional, stay rational and outline the reasons why you think you deserve the temporary promotion first. You can use this as a way to insist they provide it to you in writing. You may feel that you get nowhere but 1) it shows management that you aren’t a pushover 2) it means management will think twice about doing this again to you 3) it will help you improve you negotiation skills in difficult situations so in the future when you encounter difficult situations you will feel more prepared. I agree with others though that if you want to progress you probably need to look for different employment. In my work I have seen time and time again excellent workers overlooked and favourites promoted even when the favourites are less capable than the other workers. Good luck.

  • Look for other employment.

  • This basically says "We love your work ethic but you're not our buddy champ"

  • I see you like to use periods extensively, do realise its not the end of the world. There could be a better job, just need to look and the fear of uncertainty will be less.

    Keep your chin up, its their business for them to not promote you, just like its your business to change jobs.

  • Just see it as the guy is being paid slightly more money but having to put up with endless hours of numb sprint meetings, have to appease senior management, and have to small talks with other ppl who is trying to throw you under the bus. Is that what you really want? I rather just be doing my work, be there 9-5 and not have to deal with all the politics.