I work in banking industry for a year longer that my colleague from another sub-team in my area. We both are natural candidates for getting a promotion. My problem is that I think that my colleague will get promotion instead of me, which impacts my work satisfaction.

I work on different projects, deliver things faster, know better our company specific systems, have better degree and delivered bigger projects in past.

But recently our company is working on implementing some new features, where my colleague is involved but not me. He is involved only in technical part, very low-level tasks, not managing nor deciding about the implementation issues. His work is simple, but very exposed. I helped him number of times, and saw that if I would do his work it would not be done worse, maybe faster. I am afraid, that no one from management see that the work is simple (because no one want to get to know low-level technical issues) but everyone is impressed that implementation on technical part goes without problems.

I think my colleague may get promotion because every now and then his surname is connected to successes in big project important for my company and no one really knows that it is not connected with great deal of experience/skills but it is effect of simple repetitive manual work, while my job is more casual, but demands more skills. I do not know how to sell my work better.

The whole situation impacts my work satisfaction because I fell under appreciated.

  • 3
    Have you discussed your desire to be promoted with your immediate superior? Jun 6, 2020 at 11:19
  • Yes, it is clear for him. He also supports my plans, but the problem is that space for promotions is limited each time and there is a need to somehow concur for higher positions with peers.
    – KlausB
    Jun 6, 2020 at 11:25
  • What is the timescale? When will the company decide who gets the promotion? Jun 6, 2020 at 14:10
  • @klausb then wait it out. When you know the outcome, decide if you like it or not. If not, then consider getting another job. Jun 6, 2020 at 18:15
  • The timescale is a little less than a year from now. Also - I am not asking about hypothetical situation in the future. I am concerned now because I see how less difficult tasks loosely connected to our professional branch are building someones position. And I am sure I would not be worse in such tasks but did not get opportunity to prove it. I am involved in more complex/less immediate/less exposed tasks which need far better skills. If I could I would change tasks with my colleague even today seeing how such simplentasks brings so much recognition.
    – KlausB
    Jun 6, 2020 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


At the fear of sounding like I'm telling you you're doing it wrong, you're doing it wrong.

In your opinion, are you worth more than what you're currently paid? If so, talk to your manager.

If you're not sure, check your real worth by applying for a few jobs and getting a couple verbal pre-offers. Yeah, you're spending other people's time, but as a hiring manager, I can tell you it's not that big of a deal. I've never lost an applicant I actually wanted, only some that were in the "maybe" range. Sometimes it took aggressively convincing the applicant that our work is way more important than whatever they're doing in their web studio (it is).

I can also tell you that your direct management is usually very well aware of who's contributed what to what project. If not, you can tell them, they're people like everyone else.

All in all, stop comparing yourself to others. Do you feel ready for promotion? Say so. Ask for it. Apply to other companies. If you are ready, you will get it. Your coworker is not the problem, or even a problem; they're someone just like you that's taking advantage of the opportunities thrust upon them.

  • 3
    Say so. Ask for it. People who show up and talk about advancement are the ones who generally get it. OP might get feedback on why it might not happen. Instead of being disgruntled about it, that's the time to fix those things and do it visibly. Advancement doesn't just happen. You have to make it happen. Jun 6, 2020 at 15:25

IAGO: Beware of jealousy, my lord! It’s a green-eyed monster that makes fun of the victims it devours.

~ William Shakespeare

Ill-humor is nothing more than an inward feeling of our own want of merit, a dissatisfaction with ourselves which is always united with an envy that foolish vanity excites.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My friend, you are struggling with professional jealousy.

But, you are already off to a good start curing yourself: You have acknowledged your fear and responsibility to solve this issue. You are not making this someone else's problem.

You have also correctly identified that your colleague is successful because they have the courage to do the work that matters the most to your organization.

You recognize that your organization values results more than credentials. You feel some disappointment because you didn't realize it sooner. You were counting on your credentials and good track record to carry you forward.

At work, your fear and jealously may be "leaking out." Among your positive attributes, people can see and smell these negatives. They interfere with your building and maintaining successful relationships. When faced with minor issues, you might sometimes react in ways that highlight your difficulties.

Your thinking is based on a "zero-sum fallacy" -- the belief that being promoted can only happen to one of you. This is very unlikely to be true.


  • Seek professional help and counseling. You are not alone. This is not unusual.
  • Accept things outside your control.
  • Focus on improving yourself.
  • Be mindful, sit with your fear.
  • Get in touch with your feelings. Privately, take up writing or art. Throw most of your creations away.
  • Open up your generosity and compassion: Volunteer your time and donate money to people in need.
  • Acknowledge to your spouse or partner that you are struggling and have taking steps to improve.

Do not:

  • Attack, criticize, or sabotage your colleague.
  • Pretend like everything is okay.
  • Let fear speak or write emails for you.

When things settle down and you start feeling better, seek one small creative risk-taking task or project, and see it through. Repeat.

Good luck, I hope this helps.

  • It is not that I did not realize it sooner or my colleague have any courage. I anticipated this situation about one year ago, at start of the project. I saw that it could build position of someone who would be delegated to these tasks, and now I see I was no wrong. Also - my colleague simply got this tasks from his manager, it has nothing to do with courage. My point is that I see it somehow unfair that only by getting 1) simple 2) very exposed tasks 3) only you know are easy to pursue, you are on highway to getting a promotion.
    – KlausB
    Jun 6, 2020 at 20:46
  • @KlausB Yes. This is all true. You are perceptive. But this is business: Our feelings about what is fair don't have any importance. Your manager and coworker saw an opportunity to shine. They went for it and succeeded. Now, you must ask yourself, "What are my strengths? What can I contribute? What can I do to shine? Who are my allies?" No one else can do this for you. Don't waste another minute on envy.
    – rolfedh
    Jun 7, 2020 at 2:47
  • @KlausB How do you think you should deal with it?
    – rolfedh
    Jun 7, 2020 at 10:22
  • that was my initial question, because as long as your questions about „what are my strengths” etc. are my natural way of making my position in company, in situation I described they are somehow irrevelant. This is because I use my strenghts on daily basis and try to shine because of my work and skills, but this project of my colleague is of that importance to company, that in direct comparison senior management seems to see my work as „daily basis” vs my colleagues work as „glad we delivered the project”. I feel overshadowed by my colleague and do not know how to be relevant again.
    – KlausB
    Jun 7, 2020 at 10:30
  • @KlausB (Please go along with me on this Q&A process.) We understand your feelings. It is good that you are a solid daily contributor. The business relies on solid contributions from you and many others like you. What are some possible ways for you to become more relevant?
    – rolfedh
    Jun 7, 2020 at 10:46

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