Have you ever been demoted?
If so, you're not alone. A survey finds that 46 percent of human resource managers say their company has demoted an employee. Most of those demotions hit male professionals and those ages 18 to 34.
If you think about it, the first thing you would want to do after being demoted is deliver a significant hand gesture to your boss and walk out the door, possibly kicking a nearby trash can for good measure. Or, go into a massive sulk and do only the bare minimum required to still collect a paycheck.
The survey supports this: For those who are demoted, 52 percent quit while 47 percent become disengaged.
Such reactions won't surprise an employer. First, they may have demoted you in an effort to get you to quit. Second, they demoted you and are paper-trailing you so that they can fire you in the near future as your performance deteriorates.
But what if you don't quit? What if you turn the tables and actually get better at your job? If you take that course of action, then you've taken control of your career instead of letting a demotion derail it.
It won't be easy. You're going to be pissed, frustrated, depressed and demoralized by the demotion. The demotion may not even be the result of poor performance, but have to do with internal politics or restructuring.
Whatever you're feeling and whatever the reason you were demoted, you have to be smart about it and understand that if you decide to leave, it's going to be much easier to find another job if you depart on good terms. That means you've got to prove you're of value. How? By turning in work where you show proven value and results.
When you've been demoted, it's going to be more important than ever that you:
- Suck it up. Don't let them see you sweat or cry. All they should see written on your face is steely resolve and determination.
- Get specifics. Make sure you're 100 percent clear on the performance issues that got you demoted and what your boss believes you need to do to correct them.
- Craft a battle plan. Make no mistake: You're going to have to fight to regain ground and get your career back on track. Write out what you need to accomplish in the next week and coming months.
- Communicate in writing. Let the boss know what you're doing to improve. Daily email reports can provide a way for you to prove you're making changes. You can also give these reports in person, but written evidence will help the boss clearly see the steady progress you're making.
- Add value. Craft a plan to cut customer turnover, make a process more efficient or improve safety. This is a move designed to make you more valuable to your current employer -- but also beef up your resume so that if you decide to leave you can demonstrate your worth.
Being demoted is no fun. But there's no reason to let it define you. Once it happens, you cannot change it but you can use it to spur new actions that will help you with your current employer -- or propel you into a job that is a better fit.