What Does It Mean When You Get a Demotion at Work?

What Does It Mean When You Get a Demotion at Work?

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The Reasons For a Demotion at Work

A recent OfficeTeam survey showed that 46% of companies have demoted employees according to HR managers.  That's almost half of the companies surveyed, which tells you a demotion is not that uncommon. However, the reasons for getting demoted really vary. The survey cited the following as the most common reasons:

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The Reasons For a Demotion at Work

– Poor performance – Backtracking—a recent promotion that wasn't going according to plan – Organizational restructuring including the elimination of a position – An employee's request to have a lesser role or less responsibility

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Types of Demotion

Performance-Based Demotion This is maybe the most awkward form of demotion, usually due to a current employer being unhappy with your poor performance and wanting to give you a lower level of responsibility.  One use case: It’s fairly common for a person who does great work to get promoted into a management role only to 

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Types of Demotion

prove that they’re not management position material. The company might plan a demotion accordingly. Restructuring Most often this happens at larger companies where there’s a very specific (and complex) hierarchy of positions within departments. Another pattern: it often takes place during the merger of two companies 

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Types of Demotion

or under new ownership or leadership. Certain levels get removed, “flattening” the hierarchy. That might mean that suddenly the Associate Creative Directors and Senior Creative Directors find themselves at the same level. When this happens, you typically see a high turnover rate, especially among senior employees who suddenly find 

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Types of Demotion

themselves with no potential for growth or upward trajectory within the company. Pay Cuts Sometimes a company runs into serious financial problems and suddenly makes a very difficult decision: to cut pay across the company because they simply can’t afford to make payroll. Again, a pay cut generally leads to a 

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Types of Demotion

mass exodus of team members. Voluntary It's completely possible that an employee demotes themselves. This could be for a variety of reasons such as job responsibilities, fatigue from the corporate ladder, or a new work-life stage. They might be ready to create a transition 

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Types of Demotion

plan with the company but reach an agreement to stay on in a reduced capacity, or perhaps a new child at home means that a flex schedule is the best move for now. In any case, it’s discussed more rarely than compulsory demotions.

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How to Respond to a Demotion

1. Ask for Additional Details or Feedback Employers get uncomfortable talking about demotions because, obviously, no one’s happy when they receive one. You may not have it in you to discuss the situation on the day that you’re demoted, but you should ask for a meeting no more than a few days after that either with HR or your boss.

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How to Respond to a Demotion

2. Update Your Resume You’re actually in a good position in that it’s much easier to find a job while you have a job (even if you’ve been demoted). So if you’re feeling at a dead-end, now would be the time to start looking for new opportunities—which means an updated resume is crucial.

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How to Respond to a Demotion

3. Remember That You’re Still  Competent and Qualified Your self-worth is not your net worth. Or your job title. Take a minute to write down all your professional strengths or accomplishments over the last year or so. Don’t give yourself a hard time. You’ll be able to tackle this situation head-on if you cut yourself some slack.

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How to Respond to a Demotion

4. Consider Whether You Want to Try to Climb Back Up If you’re facing a performance-based demotion, chances are you’ll probably want to start fresh at a new company. But what if the feedback you receive makes you realize that you do have room to improve?

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How To Handle A Demotion

1. Get Support Getting a demotion can hurt your confidence and make you feel unappreciated and undervalued. It can make you question the quality of your work, your office relationships, and the future you want for your career. It's a whole mix of emotions and our first piece of advice is to lean in to all that pain.

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How To Handle A Demotion

Yes, lean into the hard emotions so you can acknowledge them and start to work through them. That might include close friends and family, therapy, or even working with a career coach.

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How To Handle A Demotion

2. Reflect On What Happened You asked for some feedback on what led to this decision and collected any additional information your employer could share. Now we want to assess what happened and any role you played in the decision. If you were demoted because of poor performance, you'll want to ask more detailed questions about what 

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How To Handle A Demotion

improvement they would like to see and by when. You might want to ask your peers for feedback on your work. Learning how to give and receive effective feedback will help you edit your behavior, work, and communication moving forward.

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How To Handle A Demotion

3. Create a Plan The next thing you'll want to do is create a plan with your manager on what happens next. How does management plan on communicating or sharing your demotion news with others? What's your new job title and what are your responsibilities? Can you get a new or updated job description? Does your 

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How To Handle A Demotion

manager already have a transition plan in place or is that something you two will create together?

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How To Handle A Demotion

4. Strategize For Your Future Instead of viewing your demotion as the end of your career, look at it as an opportunity to strengthen your skills or fill a skills gap.  Create some goals to help you improve your performance and edit the way you've worked in the past for the better. And most of all, use this as an 

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How To Handle A Demotion

opportunity to think about your future and where you want to take your career.

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