My Boss Is Holding Me Back

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about failure of  boss to enable growth: She never gave me training all she does is to show me and after I can’t even remember as she’s too fast.

I have been with this company for 5 years working as a general worker in production and for 6 months as an Admin Clerk. The time I was on production, I used to help my boss with her work and assisted with switchboard when the receptionist is not in. I then asked her if she would take me to be her assistant. Because she saw that I had potential, she accepted and that’s how I got promoted in 2010.

I did a programme in financial management at UNISA and got my certificate and am currently studying a programme in HR Management. My boss is a planning manager on the production side. Early this year work our load went down as some of her responsibilities where taken away from her due to new management and restructuring of the company. She never gave me training all she does is to show me and after I can’t even remember as she’s too fast. It’s her second nature, but so far I know few things. She recently took leave and said she’ll be working from home. The whole point of taking leave is to be off work but she’s still working; working from home? I can’t load orders/invoice them as she’ll be doing that. I sometimes feel stupid/useless, I can’t even help my big boss or clients when their urgent orders that need to be processed.

For that matter I don’t have the authority on the system. I’m restricted to certain things. I spoke to her and she said she will speak to the IT to give me right, but that is not happening. The big boss said he’ll have a meeting with us when she comes back. She never compliments me on a good job. I sometimes feel like I’m getting paid for doing nothing. I can’t even ask for a raise as my salary is ridiculous–with rise of the economy, it’s difficult to survive with it)

On the other hand, she doesn’t want to develop me or maybe she is scared that I will mess-up her work. But I’m willing to learn and I learn very quickly. Even if I mess-up, we can rectify the mistakes on the system and learn from them. It’s not like a train that would be smashed if I made a mistake. People are getting the impression that I’m doing well and getting fat pay but no. I love my work and all I want is to feel the pressure, be active and gain more experience.

Signed, Frustrated Anonymous

Dear Frustrated Anonymous:

You like your work and want to move forward on a career path. Five years with your company and six months as an assistant to your boss undoubtedly have acquainted you with your company. You should have learned the ropes, seen job postings, and become aware of opportunities for a career path within your workplace. Unfortunately many companies fail to coach employees and to nurture their career interests.

Might the fact that your boss has shifted to working at home, be a natural time for you to seek wider counsel? I think the answer to that rhetorical question is yes. Therefore, you can approach this as an internal job hunt. Scan what is available. Prepare a road map what you must do to get from where you are to where you would like to be. Different positions probably would require a different road map. Once you have scanned what is available for one with your skills and interests, request a meeting with the big boss or with Human Resources. Go to that meeting seeking advice.

Request help in planning the steps you need to make to be qualified for openings.Guard against bad mouthing your boss and gossip about feeling useless. Rather come with ideas about how to cut wasted supplies, time, effort, and money. Come with enthusiasm about what you already know and what you are eager to learn. Come there with knowledge of individuals you have worked with during your five years and with those you know because of their various positions.

Don’t name drop but as you sketch what you might do; it’s ok to mention those in various position. I don’t know to who you now report since your boss is on leave. But if you still report to her, confide with her about your desire to be more useful and to find a career path within the company. You’ve spoken with her before, but have you openly told her of your career interests? She should recommend people for you to speak with and ideas of what how to proceed. Hopefully she and the big boss will hear you and appreciate your passion to make a career within the company. Consulting with her and others such as the big boss and/or Human Resources is not a quick-fix, one time affair. Rather it should be a quest that entails more than one meeting. You need a boss who wants to mentor you. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Feel free to tell us after a few weeks how you are progressing.

William Gorden