How to go forward after being passed over for promotion by a less deserving colleague?

 I have recently been passed over for promotion by a less deserving colleague. I had joined this team a couple of years back and he was already a part of the team for a year. We were both working at the same career level. As I settled in eventually, I realized that he just skates by his work and always relies on others for help in getting his work completed in time. I and my other junior colleagues all help him and each other as well (teamwork). I have consistently received exceptional performance feedback which has been documented as per process in the past couple of years. The colleague who got promoted used to take help from me as well as my juniors for any work he did as he was not competent enough! All of the team also feels that I am the most deserving person of the team to get the promotion. When the results were communicated recently everyone was shocked as nobody expected to see him promoted.

I asked for the reason and they gave below:

  1. His Months At Level (MAL) was greater than mine. MAL means he has been at the same level as me. I have been in this position for 2.5 years and he has been for 4.

  2. They said that I'm too "valuable" for them (not sure what I need to understand from that) to let go and they fear that I will leave once I get the promotion for a better pay scale and position considering my technical abilities.

I am not sure what to make of point 2. Regarding point 1, I feel that it's really unfair as I have consistently outperformed him for all of my 2.5 years at my level and he has been promoted just because he has been here for a long. The reason he is at the same level is that he did not deliver anything significant. If you take the general consensus of my juniors and colleagues who report to both me and him, all say that he doesn't deserve to get promoted. Even one of my supervisors had accepted in person that the promoted colleague doesn't deserve (but he won't agree that officially 😅).

I congratulated my colleague genuinely as this is something decided by the management and I have nothing against him personally. However, I feel disappointed by this outcome and won't be able to take instructions from a person who has fewer skills and technical capabilities than me. Also, I feel cheated as to not getting appropriate returns for my work considering being the so-called "vital cog" for the team to perform.

Would like to receive some advice on what I should do now? I have already updated my resume on job sites and actively looking for an opportunity that appreciates my work and provides reasonable returns. But on other hand, I like my organization as a whole and only the managers on the current team are the ones that caused this problem.

Edit: I changed the initial sequence of reasons as the months at level was the first reason they gave me which is the evident reason apparently after asking few other senior management people.


Getting your resume ready is a good start. Most advise to always have it updated and to always look, just in case a dream job pops up. Unfortunately, what happened to you happens to lots of people. So your choice is to stay with your employer (maybe take a week off and cool down) or leave for another job. Sometimes being too valuable is detrimental to your career advancement bc it will be hard for your boss to replace you (as the saying goes: idiots always get promoted). At least be happy the interviewer gave an honest response bc most don't.

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