Promotions are one of the most powerful messages an organization ever sends. They are the perfect lens. Promotions let everyone clearly see what the organization truly values.

If you get passed over for a promotional opportunity, it’s one of two reasons: it’s either you or it’s the organization.

If you miss it the first time, take ownership. Confirm what you need to do differently to succeed next time and do it. Plenty of times this is the right solution. You needed to improve and you are a better promotion because you did.

Promotions can’t be Halloween candy. They should be earned. They have to be respected. They must communicate the culture. Mixed messages are bad.

Now, if you get passed over again, the issue may not be you. Take time to objectively analyze everything. Look honestly at all the evidence. Ask mentors and professional peers both near and far from the situation what happened and why.

If by all available evidence and everyone agrees you did everything right, it might not be you. It could be the organization or those influencing the promotional decision. The promotional decision may be driven by their character defects not yours. Jealousy didn’t end with Cain and Abel.

Some people are insecure around high performers. To protect their egos, they promote down. Some think this is a time to help their friends not the company or customers.

If the senior leadership is dumb enough to allow them to write personal checks on the company account and push talent out the door, you need to leave. You will never win here. In fact, the better you are, the less likely you’ll be promoted. They love how your work makes them successful but they’ll never love you. There’s only one solution: you seek out better opportunities.

Ultimately, organizations promote and retain who they are. If you share the same values, they will value you. If you don’t, they won’t.