Whether it’s called a “reorganization,” a “reclassification” or even a “reassignment,” if it results in a loss of responsibility or a downgrade in title, or someone with a more prestigious title is placed over you, then you know that they really mean is that you’ve been demoted.
Being demoted hits the ego harder than almost anything else that can happen in our professional lives. It’s the combo burrito of a bad performance review and a pay cut, with a side order of spotlight because everyone knows about it, and for dessert, you get to keep showing up at the office, possibly working for the person who has replaced you.
When an unwelcome job change happens to you, you have three options.
You can quit outright.
You can start a job search on the side and plan to leave as soon as you receive a job offer.
You can assess what you could do better and start working on it, while remaining the same team player you’ve always been, and in your new role, look for opportunities to shine.
Any of these three are perfectly acceptable, as long as you’re choosing either of the first two for the right career-development reasons and not simply out of anger and a bruised ego. And, that you don’t view the third one as a best-you-can-do last choice.
No matter how much it hurts the ego, a demotion – by any name – offers more options than losing a job outright. At the very least, you still have a paycheck. And it should be more than a little solace that your current employer sees enough value in your strengths to keep you on. You could have been given a pink slip and immediately double-time marched out the door.
Remember, change is inevitable. Misery is optional.
Take a little time to rebalance your life. Chances are your identity is closely tied to the job you no longer have, so putting more time into interests outside the workplace can give you a fresh perspective and the emotional support you need right now.
If possible, take a few days off, or work from home for a few days.
Pamper yourself a little, every day. Even if it is only a bit of chocolate, time with a good book, or a brisk walk alone, you deserve it. But try for that extra round of golf, or a visit to your favorite spa. Pampering reminds you of your worth and ensures a better work-life balance.
After two weeks, put away the pity party favors and get on with building your career from where it is right now. It may not be easy, but if your employer didn’t think you could do it, and didn’t want you to do it, you’d be gone already. (If, for whatever reason, you doubt your employer’s faith in you, reexamine options one and two.)
Over the course of my career, I’ve watched several people who have been in this situation. Some have immediately chosen to leave. Some have left after securing another job. Of the ones who have remained in the organization for at least a year, I have observed some similarities in what they do after they have decided to stay and make the best of it.
In the face of professional adversity, what matters most is what we say and what we do next. Hold your head high, keep your words positive, and others will respect you for your grace and integrity. All of this is easier said than done, of course.
First of all, remind yourself every morning you have awesome courage for even deciding to stick with it. You’ve made this decision after taking an honest look at what’s best for you, and decided that what’s best is to continue developing your skills right where you are. Make no mistake, it is not a lack of respect for yourself or the lack of a job offer, but rather, your sense of commitment to your own goals, that is fueling your decision.
Remember to listen to the feedback about your performance that you were given at the time of the job change. The truth can’t hurt you, it can only point the way forward for your career. It’s a good idea to ask for a meeting to review the issues that led to the decision and the expectations for you in your new role. No doubt you will learn a few things, and you may even be pleasantly surprised to learn your performance on the whole is better than you might be thinking right now. This is a good way to restore your trust in yourself and your capabilities. It also shows that you can be open to constructive criticism.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Tap into your courage,, re-commitment to your goals, and remember that an unwanted job demotion is a chance to strengthen weak skills and develop new ones. Continue to believe in yourself and your current struggles will give way to new successes.
Related Posts: Dealing with Change