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Promoted employee

Why Do Bad Employees Get Promoted (It Will Shock You!)

Your coworker was just promoted, and you’re left scratching your head wondering why do bad employees get promoted

It might not be your fault. Often toxic people are promoted to fit a company image or because they’re really good at sucking their way to the top. Maybe you’re being passed up because the boss just doesn’t like you or you don’t fit the bill. 

Here are just three reasons why you’re being passed up for a promotion. 

  1. Your company needs you in your job. This truly stinks but it’s true. If you’re really needed in your current role, you will likely get passed up for a promotion. Even though there are a lot of people on any team, it is often just a few that hold the team together. If you happen to be one of those few, you’re doomed to stay in your current role for a while.


  1. Your boss considers you a threat. We are human, and that means your boss also. If you are perceived as a threat, you’ll be passed over for a promotion. Your boss is aware that he may not be as qualified as you and he doesn’t want you to take his position. 


  1. Your outside interests are different. Of course, what you do away from the office is your business…unless you want a promotion. Sometimes your boss just wants a buddy on the clock and off the clock. It’s likely that if you notice all the people in management share a similar interest that you do not, you’re not getting that promotion. 

While these reasons are not fair, there are far more shocking reasons why bad employees get promoted

  1. They fit the mold. Some companies have an idea of what type of person represents their company. For example, some companies will promote young professionals or only give leadership roles to women. This unspoken representation is often to create an underlying company image, whether that image is one of vibrancy and youth or inclusivity of minority groups. 


  1. They’re an insider. Yes, it’s true that good employees are passed up all the time because they’re not family or have kids in little league. A savvy, but not necessarily good, employee can become an insider by sucking up to the boss. An insecure boss is likely to reward an employee for his “loyalty.” 


  1. They don’t mind walking all over people to get what they want. This person is very good at spreading rumors, deflecting blame, and taking credit. They will do whatever it takes to move up in the company. 


  1. The boss likes them. Likeability at work is a huge component of work culture. Some people are genuinely great people and so they’re likeable. Some are just really good at faking it! Personal preferences will play a factor in who gets promoted. 


  1. They drank the Kool-Aid. This is the person that is on fire for the company. They are lemmings that comply with all of the company guidelines, never question anything, and will willingly walk right off a cliff for the company. Sadly, often these very same people become the scapegoats and take the fall for the company. 


If you’re constantly being passed up for a promotion, it’s time to take inventory. You just might be at the wrong company. I’ve coached many clients about when it’s the right time to cut the strings and move on. Nobody likes job hunting. But staying at a dead-end job is far worse for your career. 

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