Demotion – Take One Step Back To Take Two Steps Forward!

What does demotion mean? Is this a stain on your career? Is this the end of your current position? – The truth is not that bad, and it is not always your fault!

One fine morning, you leisurely come to the company to prepare for a new working week. Then you suddenly get the message that you will have to move to a position of less authority and responsibility, fewer career development opportunities, or less exposure to senior managers. Even though your boss has used fancy rhetoric such as “reassigning tasks”, “reassigning roles”, or “relieving work pressure”; in the end, you can hardly deny that they have demoted you. What does demote mean

Indeed, your feelings right now are not pleasant. No matter how much your boss soothes you, it is still a fact that it is a step back in your work. But it is not always your fault! And Vladimir Lenin once said, “It is necessary sometimes to take one step backward to take two steps forward.”

One more good read in our career advice section: I’m Fighting For My Life: Workplace Depression And What You Can Do About It

What Does Demotion Mean?

Generally, demotion is the reverse of promotion. It is the reassignment of a staff’s position to a lower level. The reduction in work level often involves a lower degree of responsibility, lower required competencies, or a lower pay rate than the previous position. Yet, some individuals have reported getting demoted at work same pay, just less responsibility.

Answering the question “What does demotion mean?”, we define that it often takes place due to poor employee performance, disciplinary actions, position elimination, or reorganization.

Also, demotion is no longer an ​uncommon phenomenon in the workplace. According to a survey carried out in 2018 by OfficeTeam – a Robert Half company, almost 50% companies are carrying out demotion processes.

Demotion - Take One Step Back To Take Two Steps Forward!
Surveys of more than 300 HR managers and more than 1,000 workers in the US. Source: OfficeTeam 

A Legal Demotion

A legal demotion is one not violating any company policies or the contract you signed with the company. Moreover, all demotions related to race, age, gender, religion, or disability are immoral, exposing the detrimental core values of the company, and it is no use dedicating to such workplaces.

Demotion vs. Termination

Many people mistakenly think demotion is as close to being fired, but it is not. Demotion is not the end! 

Actually, demotion often occurs when an employee is valuable to the business but does not thrive in his current role or is not fully qualified to undertake this overwhelming duty. On the contrary, there is a termination if an employee makes a mistake, causes disruption and heavy losses, or makes no dedication to the company.

Why Demotion Takes Place?

When encountering a demotion, keep calm and sit down with your superiors to find out why you got demoted; listen carefully to where things went wrong. Demotion can occur for the following reasons:

Poor Performance or Inadequacy Of Knowledge

Regarding this personal cause, reconsider your expertise and suitability for the position. Are you unable to cope with change? Is your productivity declining and unsatisfactory? Does your expertise stay behind due to industry restructuring, market change, or company strategy adjustment?

Indeed, you need to understand the most relevant and core reason to understand the problem entirely. Not only will this help you with your current questions, but it is also good for you in the future. If your ability has limitations, it is necessary to progress as soon as possible.

Additionally, demotion can result from a lack of knowledge, technical skill, poor health condition, old age, or other personal factors. Under these situations, it is better for a new staff to undertake such positions.

Poor Performance or Inadequacy Of Knowledge
Are you taking on an overwhelming position? – Souce:

Discipline Violation 

If demotion is a form of corporate punishment, accept this disciplinary action after having caused wrongdoing or a breach of discipline. An organization can operate well only if maintaining proper discipline.

Position Elimination or Organizational Restructuring

Indeed, demotion sometimes derives from changes in the business structure, such as incorporating departments, closing some divisions or departments, cutting back on the duplicate positions after merging companies, or rearranging jobs to improve low performance.

In such situations, there is a decrease in the number of positions, and therefore some staff may receive a reassignment to lower positions until everything returns to normal. Thus, employees are not to blame for such demotions.

Position Elimination or Organizational Restructuring
Demotion sometimes derives from business restructure – Source:

How To Rebound?

Was the day of demotion the worst day of your life? It all depends on your attitude. If you no longer love this job or are tired of the working environment, you can give yourself a new, better start. However, if you still love this job, what will you have to do to stay strong and alert enough to overcome this difficult period? 

Certainly, not everything is alright, but it is not the end of your career. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to work harder for the goals of your life. Why not look at it through rose-colored glasses?

Keep Calm When Receiving The News

Above all, the most important step when accepting unexpected news is dealing with your personal feelings. Everything can be left behind, only for the emotions you have to master immediately, before making any unfortunate mistakes. Facing the facts means being aware of the situation and behaving appropriately.

Obviously, your emotions are overflowing and need to be relieved. Shout out loud? Smash tables and chairs? Blame anyone? The best way is never to try to put this emotion inside for too long because it will pop out at the most unexpected moment, confuse you and make your image even less professional.

Keep in mind not to take it out on your boss or colleagues. Try to express your feelings in a safe and private place. Even if you want to cry, just cry! Science has proven that tears can help you balance your mood, less sadness, less anger.

Seek Encouragement 

When in a state of depression, you can seek help from family or friends. Being demoted is a pain due to its sense of rejection, loss of credibility, or unrecognized effort. The best way to release personal feelings is to get in touch with people outside of work you trust and respect to confide in. The right people to share with are mature, objective, and have a lot of experience, know how to listen to and give the best advice.

Still, the purpose of this action is not to condemn the company or find allies to defend you about life injustice, but rather a way to share your feelings, consult and get further advice.

Do not skip this encouraging step. Even if you cannot find a positive direction after the talk, you will calm down after venting out of your heart and then solving your own matter.

Quit Or Not?

With normal psychology, many people will choose to quit their jobs after being demoted. However, it is experts’ advice that you should detain this thought to avoid pushing yourself into more challenging situations. In essence, the act of wanting to quit is because of feeling overlooked or just out of self-love. Please consider carefully before deciding to stay with your current company or move to a new environment.

Related Content: 5 Things You Can Do To Stop Hating Your Job

Not Only You!

If the company is in a difficult situation (due to market competition, financial budget, social fluctuations, restructuring of the sector or industry, etc.), what does demotion mean? It means you are one of many personnel affected by the adjustment! Thus, consider with sympathy. At least this is not your own sadness. 

What to do is evaluate whether the current situation and future direction of the company are still in line with your personal goals and orientations or not. Are your career path and professional capacity able to develop further after this temporary recession?

Surely, the way to land collective goals faces many difficulties; hence even strong groups need each individual’s contribution. Knowing what you need and visualizing the company prospects, you will make the appropriate decision.

Not Only You!
Will you leave or stay in to help the company overcome the crisis? – Souce:

If, after conversations or when the company has concrete evidence of your lack of skills, number of delays, and project failure, accept it. Otherwise, your boss recorded your effort, but seemingly you are sitting in an overwhelming position. Reasons such as personal affairs, a different personality, lack of cooperation with colleagues, and a delay in learning, the power to take on the job, etc., can lead to the demotion decision.

Falling into this situation can be a bit embarrassing, however, keep in mind that being angry then quitting is not a good choice. Just think, you contributed to the company for years, but they still had to demote you, so why would another company recruit you into a higher position?

In these circumstances, proactively ask about the expectations and suggestions from your boss. When you become better and are on the right track, you will be sure of deserving a promotion, higher position, and salary.

Maybe I Need A New Start?

Conversely, for reasons unclear or based on unfair personal purpose, such as the new top management finds it necessary to change the subordinates to easily work with; what does demote mean? It means now is the time to quit!

Or when you notice warning signs such as your job description unchanged but having to receive a downgrade decision, change to another title to apply lower wage level according to company regulations, or be transferred to a position of an unsuitable profession while a new employee takes up your previous post, take a new job search option into account if you deem that this is a not convincing reason.

Whatever The Decision Is, Keep Developing Yourself!

In summary, whether you stay or leave, the key is staying productive. Take the necessary time and energy to master the job, build a two-way understanding with the company, and establish the right relationship with the new manager (if any). Unexpected news sometimes keeps us alert and tries harder, just as adversity makes people stronger! After reading Jobandedu‘s article, surely you have understood “What does demotion mean?”, right? It is exactly one step backward to take two steps forward!

Emma Anderson

Emma Anderson is a career consultant and freelance writer for JobandEdu by night. Layla assists students, and new hires in determining a suitable career path and walk them through the application process. She decides to pursue writing since she thinks everyone should have access to information about potential careers, such as the application process and the company's culture. She's into writing, driving her with stuff that interests her in all her good reads.