It is very normal for humans to judge their value or worth according to their responsibilities.
We view ourselves as valuable to people and an organization based on the worth of what we contribute or the responsibilities we carry. This is why it is often a huge blow on our self-esteem when we feel stripped of our responsibilities through demotion.
The most important thing not to lose when responsibilities and positions are taken away from you is your sense of self- worth. This is one important tool you need in addressing the situation (if it is necessary to address it) and in writing this email. The confidence you have in yourself and your self-esteem should remain intact; these are crucial and will help you through any challenge, both emotional/psychological and physical.
Tips for Responding to a Letter of Demotion by Email
Before going off to respond to a letter of demotion via email, you need to analyze the circumstances and situations that precipitated it. Some questions need to be asked and answered by you; others may have to be clarified by your boss.
Read In-between the Lines
You need to determine whether a low or lack of job performance led to the demotion and plan how to approach that. You need to ensure you are not caught up in some office politics or suffering the consequences of it.
From the letter of demotion, you need to determine if your responsibilities are the only things taken from you but you still have the title/position. A title without responsibility is like an empty shell. When you are stripped of your title and responsibilities, there is a different approach to take compared with when you are stripped of just the responsibilities alone.
When your title is left and responsibilities are taken away, it is a sign that your boss is either being diplomatic or playing politics with you. This way, someone strategically takes over your responsibilities while you answer to the person. The new person introduced to the hierarchy is who you report to irrespective of his experience.
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Is the Demotion Reasonable?
Is the organization/company going through certain financial challenges you are aware of? This fact may determine your approach.
Identify what vision or strategic plans the person taking over your responsibilities sold to the management. What are the new things being brought to the table? This is something you may become aware of after a short while working with the new person. He may simply have sold a version of the future that you are not seeing, but is in line with what the management desires?
Did You See it Coming?
Was there any pointer to the action or it came as a surprise? Were there complaints as regard your job and performance prior to the demotion?
With a demotion, either your responsibilities are given to one or more people or the role you are playing is completely scrapped from the organization. Either way, you may have to settle it in your mind with the option of working with the new person or leave the organization when the circumstances surrounding your demotion is based on bitter office policy which you cannot bear anymore.
Show Your Readiness to Work
Working with the new person introduced to your team should be with the interest of the organization. This interest is what should reflect in your email, even if you are planning to change job and continue in building your career in another organization/company.
In writing an email along this line bear in mind that some issues may have to be addressed with your boss, especially if you plan to build a career in the company.
You email should not lack courtesy. It should carry the note of professionalism.
You should let it be clear to your boss that you are aware you have been demoted in the case whereby your title is left but your responsibilities taken away from you.
You should ask why the demotion was carried out. You are entitled to an explanation especially if the one given in the letter of demotion (if there is any) is not sufficient for you. If the demotion is as a result of low/lack of job performance on your part, this is the time to adjust to the new role you have found yourself.
Demotion, atimes, is an employer’s way of quietly propelling an employee into resignation when he is not willing to go the route of firing. However in some cases, it is not so. This is why finding out from your boss is paramount. You can easily know by asking your boss clearly in your email about your future in the organization. Every employer should have a future plan for his employee. A better working environment is created when a company has openly defined plans for the labor force who contributes to making the organization grow. The response given will let you know if you have been fired without “being fired”.
Deal with anger and any form of resentment that might have built up as a result of your demotion. If not, it may reflect in your letter and affect the response you get. How well you gracefully handle the situation leaves an impression of maturity in the mind of your boss.
If you have chosen to continue with the company, let a renewed motivation to work reflect in your letter. How well you have been able to handle the news can be seen by all.
Be humble. Sometimes you get to learn a lot from the person who has come to take over your responsibilities, your perspective matters a lot. Whether this individual is experienced or not, you may learn by changing your perception about this person and position yourself to learn. This may be a useful turn of event in your career
Sample Email 1: Responding to a Demotion via Email
…I view it as a demotion as some of the responsibilities which I derived pleasure in handling are no longer assigned to me. This has posed some challenges, even though I am still in charge of the production department as regard title but not by responsibilities handled.
I have wondered if this new arrangement is as a result of poor performance or behavior related. Being aware of this will help me navigate better and serve the organization to my fullest capacity.
I will also like to know how well I can be of assistance in any way, working to help achieve the goal of the team and hence the company.
In this letter, you have subtly thrown the question open to your boss to shed more light as regard the reason for you demotion by stating your dilemma and not being sure the reason for your demotion.
It is usually better not to ask outright if your lack of performance was the problem. Often, what you get may be a diplomatic answer. Except you have a blunt boss who does not mince words.
In the case whereby you have had previous issues as regards performance with your boss, the situation might be a wakeup call and provide an opportunity to reevaluate yourself.
Sample 2 : Responding to a Demotion via Email
I feel quite disappointed to realize I have performed below your expectation. This has been a source of concern to me.
However, I will like to state that I appreciate the new opportunity given me to serve….
Previous complaints leading to a demotion is another chance to bounce back. Viewing this as another opportunity will help to motivate you to prove to yourself and to your employer that you are indeed capable.
Written by Teju Duru; a communication expert and freelance writer based in Ibadan.
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