When You Get a Promotion — and It’s Taken Away

As you progress in your career, it’s natural to want to climb the ranks at whatever company you’re working at. So when you finally manage to land a promotion, it’s a career milestone you’ll be sure to celebrate.

But what happens if you get a promotion only to have it snatched away after the fact? It’s been known to happen. In some cases, your company might offer you that title change and then renege before you’ve even had a chance to work in the capacity of your new role. In others, you might spend weeks, or even months, doing that new job only to have it taken back for reasons unbeknownst to you.


If you were promoted and subsequently demoted back to your former role, you shouldn’t just accept the situation for what it is. Rather, take the following steps to determine what went wrong and see what you can do to fix it.

1. Figure out why you lost that promotion

When you’re granted a better position within your company and then have it taken away, you deserve an explanation as to why that happened. Therefore, you’ll need to schedule a meeting with your manager and review the reasons your company changed its mind. Was it that you worked in that position for a month but failed to meet expectations? Or did the company poorly envision the role, and as such, put you into it without realizing you’d need more experience or expertise to succeed?

If your performance is to blame, then that’s something you’ll need to work on individually — though hopefully your manager can offer some guidance to steer you on the right path. If it was the company’s error, you can take the same route — ask for training and direction so that you’re better suited for that promotion a few months down the line. Either way, the key is to be proactive rather than resign yourself to your former role.

2. Make the case for working with you

If you lost your promotion because your company realized you’re not ready for it quite yet, you might see about redefining the scope of the job so that it’s more suited to your current capabilities. Then, as your skills develop, the role can evolve into what the company initially imagined.

This strategy might work if there’s no one internal who’s a natural candidate for the role the company first envisioned. If there is, then you’re probably out of luck because your company most likely will put that person into it for the coverage it was initially after. But if filling that role means going through the interview process and finding the right person, that’s something that could take weeks or months. In that case, your company might be willing to work with you to get you up to speed rather than take its chances on an outsider.

3. Boost your skills

If, despite your best efforts, you’re unable to get your company to let you keep that promotion, your next best bet is to work on growing your skills so that you’re more likely to advance in the future. Once you identify the skills you were lacking that caused you to lose out on that promotion, you can target them individually and increase your chances for success the next time around.

Getting a promotion and then losing it is a lousy situation to be in. But think about it this way: You’re better off losing out on that promotion than continuing in that role and failing at it. So rather than let that turn of events get you down, aim to salvage the experience, learn from it, and identify the skills you need to get ahead. With any luck, your next promotion will be one that you keep for the long haul.

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