Let’s be honest here, it sucks when slackers get promoted – especially if they get promoted over you.
It’s not right, but it happens all the time for various reasons.
In this article, I’m going to highlight the most common reasons why slackers get promoted and how you should handle it!
How to Handle It When Slackers Get Promoted Ahead of You
Before diving into the reasons why slackers get promoted ahead of hard-working, dedicated workers, I wanted to address how you should handle it.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that promotions are not always about who is the most qualified or hard-working.
There can be office politics, personal connections, and other factors at play that have nothing to do with your merit or performance.
That being said, it’s still important to evaluate your own performance and see if there are areas you can improve on.
But ultimately, it’s important to remember that how well you handle this situation reflects on your character and professionalism.
So instead of getting bitter or resentful, channel that energy into doing even better at your job and proving yourself even more deserving of a promotion.
Now onto the reasons why slackers sometimes get promoted ahead of hard-working individuals…
10 Common Reasons Why Slackers and Bad Employees Get Promoted Over You
1. They’re Good at Hiding the Fact that They’re Slacking
It’s often easy for slackers to hide their lack of productivity in a sea of busyness and tasks.
They might have mastered the art of appearing busy, while still not actually accomplishing much.
On the flip side, hard-working individuals might be too focused on their work to put effort into appearances and networking.
So while it is obviously unfair, slackers may be able to hide their lack of productivity better in the short-term and impress enough for a promotion.
It’s a little consolation right now, but in the long run, their true colors will eventually show and they won’t be able to sustain their facade.
2. They Get on Well with Their Boss
This is the classic reason why a slacker will get promoted and it never gets any easier to take.
But the old adage of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ rings true in many situations.
If a slacker is able to work their way into the good graces of their boss, they may be able to get a promotion even if their work performance isn’t as stellar.
It’s not fair, but it happens all the time.
3. Your Boss Considers You a Threat
In some cases, your boss may see you as a threat to their position or authority and therefore won’t promote you.
It’s unfortunate, but sometimes the best thing you can do is look for opportunities elsewhere where your hard work and dedication will be recognized and rewarded.
They may feel more comfortable promoting someone who isn’t a threat to their position, and that’ll often be someone who is lazy and unmotivated.
4. They Interview Well and Talk a Good Game
The interview is a huge part of the process of getting a promotion and some slackers have simply mastered the art of giving a good interview.
They may be able to impress in an interview and paint themselves as a go-getter, even if their actual work performance doesn’t reflect that.
Again, it’s not fair and ultimately their true colors will shine through, but in the short term, they may be able to talk their way into a promotion.
5. You Don’t Interview Well and Show Your Value
On the other hand, if you don’t interview well it’s going to hold you back from being promoted and give slackers more chances.
It’s important to work on your interviewing skills and be able to confidently showcase your value and accomplishments in the workplace.
Don’t let slackers get ahead just because they can talk a good game in an interview!
6. Your Boss or Manager Is Also Incompetent
It’s unfortunate, but sometimes the person in charge of promotions is also lazy or incompetent.
They may not be able to properly evaluate employee performance and end up promoting slackers because they just don’t know any better.
There are things you can do to put the odds in your favor such as documenting your successes and putting your best self forward in an interview.
But ultimately, if your manager or whoever is interviewing has no idea how to properly evaluate employees, it’s not in your control.
7. They Just ‘Fit’ the Mold in Your Organization
There is often a certain mold that employees in an organization are expected to fit into, and slackers may just fit that mold better.
They might be faking it, like they do in an interview, or maybe they just look the part and there is a certain air they give off that is praised in the organization.
It’s hard to explain, but you’ll know if this is happening in your organization.
8. They’re Being Moved for Strategic Reasons
Sometimes a ‘promotion’ isn’t all it seems from the outside.
Your company may be trying to push a slacker out of their current department and into another one, where they can do minimal damage.
Or, they may be trying to appease a certain client or stakeholder by promoting someone, even if it’s not deserved.
Strategic moves like this happen all the time, and it’s important to remember that a promotion isn’t always based solely on merit and it may not even be in the slacker’s best interests.
9. You’re Too Valuable in Your Current Role
This may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes staying in your current role can be more beneficial for your career than getting promoted.
Or, it may be the case that it’s holding you back because your company doesn’t think they can replace you.
It’s almost like being a victim of your own success!
You could use this as leverage to get more money if that’s what your main motivation is, or you need to start taking steps to make sure you’re able to move upward.
This is a conversation you need to have with your boss, even if they need prompting.
10. They Are ‘Company People’
This is a term that can mean different things, but in the context of this article, it means the slackers have had their careers at your company and have been there for a long time.
They may not be the best performers, but they know the ins and outs of the company and are valuable in that sense.
Again, it’s not fair, but I’ve seen this scenario a lot over the years.
It might be that your company values someone who they think will not leave the role, or they like the familiarity of knowing employees.
Whatever the reason, favoring company people is a very real thing that happens, whether they’re slackers or not.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.