When Your Boss Promised a Promotion But Then Quits

Here’s 5 steps to take when your boss promised a promotion, but then quits before following through.

Getting Promised a Promotion isn’t a Guarantee

So, imagine this scenario: You’ve had several chats with your boss over the past year, discussing how ready you are for a promotion.

And the great news, she recognizes your outstanding performance, believes in your potential to take on new responsibilities, and sees the positive impact you’ve had in your current position. She’s all in on getting you promoted into a new position as part of the next annual review cycle.

You’ve been promised a promotion!

But then, out of the blue, you find out she’s just handed in her two-week’s notice. Your boss quit — she found a better opportunity elsewhere.

Where does that leave you and your promised promotion?

Well, in a perfect world, after your boss promised a promotion, she went to work shoring up support to get it approved—talking to her manager and HR about your new role and job title. And even better, she lined up a nice salary increase to go along with your additional responsibilities. Plus, she documented your progress to earning a promotion your last performance review.

But what if that’s not the case? Well, don’t despair—all hope is not lost! The good news is you can still get promoted out of your current role even when your boss makes false promises and quits.

The Best Way to Get Your Promised Promotion When Your Boss Quits

Years ago, I was in this exact situation. I was promised a promotion but then my boss suddenly quit her job and left the company before following through on her promise.

And it quickly became evident she hadn’t told anyone she promised to promote me. Yet, I still managed to secure that promotion just a few months after her sudden departure. Here’s exactly how I did it — my own personal case study:

1. Talk to Your Boss

The first conversation you need to have is with your boss. Before your boss takes off, ask her about the status of your promotion. If her answer doesn’t sound like a sure thing, find out what you can do to make it happen. Who’s the ultimate decision maker you need to win over? Your boss might be more open about this process now that she’s on her way out.

2. Meet with Human Resources

Next, sit down with someone from HR. Let them know you’re committed to the company and that you’re ready to keep things running smoothly despite the change in management. This is a time to show your leadership skills and adaptability.

But it’s also important to voice your unease about your situation. HR needs to know your boss promised a promotion. And once they do, it’s highly likely they’ll update your boss’s boss on your situation – and that’s a good thing!

3. Time Your Talk with Leadership

Now, don’t rush into one-on-ones with senior leadership just yet. Your boss’s departure is probably causing some major disruptions within the organization. Her boss is likely scrambling to find a replacement and is focused on keeping your team on track. Your career goals aren’t their primary focus right now, so you’ll want to find the right time to approach them about your situation.

Stay patient and continue to prove your worth. Give it some time before you let them know your former boss planned to promote you. Similar to your conversation with HR, you don’t want to come off as panicking because your boss left. You just want to raise awareness that you were promised a promotion. 

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4. Enlist Support from Your Coworkers

Another smart move is to tap into your circle of supporters. Since your boss promised a promotion, you’re obviously a high achiever who probably has quite a few fans throughout the company.

It wouldn’t hurt if one or two trusted coworkers expressed their own concerns with senior management about your standing in the company—and the potential loss it would be if you were to follow your boss out the door.

5. Seal the Deal with Your New Boss

Last, when your new manager starts, be sure to express your career goals with them. Let them know you’re excited to work for them and ready to take on higher-level responsibilities, but also express your concern about your career progression and promotion situation.

The last thing your new manager will want is to lose top talent like you from their team right after they start their new job – it wouldn’t look good for them.

The idea with these different conversations is to raise enough concern among senior leadership about your situation — enough that prompts them to take action. You don’t want to come off as panicking when your boss quits.

Promises of Promotions: Diversify Your Support System

Bottom line, while it’s great to have your boss promise to promote you, there’s no guarantee they will be able to follow through. Relying solely on your manager to promote you is just too risky.

You’ve got to make sure your support network goes way beyond just your boss. You don’t need to win everyone over, but you do need to have enough people in your corner.

So, next time your boss decides to make an unexpected exit after a promised promotion, you won’t be left hanging, wondering what happens next with your career advancement..

You’ll have all the support and backing you need to keep your career on the fast-track when your boss quits.



About Author

As a former CMO who started her career as an admin assistant, Alison writes about climbing the corporate ladder to achieve financial freedom.

You can read more about her story here.



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