Managers and Supervisors Won’t Promote Me

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about having
a non-supportive supervisor and manager

Question:

In the place where I work, a few managers hate me because they are racist. I want to get a promotion, but I’m afraid they will turn me down. Even if I get the position they will annoy me a lot, because they don’t respect me.

The only thing I do that they might not like is that I turn my head and do not say “Hi” to them. They are not my managers now, but if I get a promotion they will be my managers. My supervisor says bad things about me because I am smart and he feels jealous of me. So, I need a miracle to prove how much I work. That’s why I am so serious at my workplace and don’t smile.

My supervisor assigns  most of the work to me and when I say I need the help of other team members, he doesn’t care. How can I stop this mental harassment?

Response: 

Hello, you say you need a miracle to get promoted. Based on how you describe the situation, I would agree! It sounds as though your work situation is an unhappy one for you as well as for your supervisors and managers. I can tell that you feel you are being treated unfairly and that your managers and supervisors are not good people. Whether you are correct are not, it must be discouraging to feel that way every day.

I will make a few suggestions that might be helpful, but I hope you will also consider talking to someone who is more familiar with your specific situation, so you can get the most personalized advice.

I had to edit your question to us to make it more easily understandable. There may be a language issue.  However, it will be helpful for you to read your question, even in its improved format, and think about these additional questions:

1.) Does it sound as though you have any positive feelings about your work and the people in it?
2.) Does it sound as though you are trying to improve your work relationships?
3.) Does it reflect that you are concerned about how you communicate with others?

As you look at your question to us, I think you will be able to see that it sounds as though you dislike almost everyone you work with and you are not doing anything to try to improve those relationships. It also appears as though you do not take care with the way you communicate in writing or in the way you communicate non-verbally with your coworkers and bosses.

You may be the most well-educated, hardest working person there, but the reality is that those who can promote you must think they can work well with you and they must think you are committed to helping the business succeed, before they will support you for the reward of getting a higher position, higher salary and increased authority over others.

Here are three things you could start doing right away that could make a difference.

1. Decide if you really want to stay in that job. If you believe it is a racist place and the managers and supervisors are unfair and treat you badly, why not quit there and find a place where you can do well and enjoy work more? Dr. Gorden often advises people to “vote with your feet”, which just means saying, “This workplace is so bad, I’m not going to keep trying to make it better. I quit!”

If you are well-educated and have marketable skills and abilities, there must surely be opportunities in other workplaces where you can contribute and feel respected.

2. Starting today, greet people and interact with them in a pleasant way. You don’t have to laugh and joke or act phony, just smile and say hello, ask how their day is going, compliment them on their work, thank them for their help, assist them when you can and in other ways, be a positive contributor at work. If you have friends at work, think about how you interact with them and extend those same courtesies to everyone.

3. Talk to your immediate supervisor about your work and what you want to achieve. It may be difficult to do that, since you don’t have a good relationship with him now, but you can work to improve it. Try asking him for his help to make things better between the two of you. You could say, “Jim, I know we don’t always get along very well, but I want you to know I am going to try to change that. I hope you will see a difference in how I do things and that we can work better together in the future.”

It will take a while for your supervisor or others to believe that the changes will last, but if you stick with it, they will see your sincerity.

You may be thinking that these suggestions are all about what you should and could do and not about the changes other people need to make. That is true. The bottom line is that you only have control over yourself. So, if you want to be promoted you will need to find out what it takes to make it happen in your company, then decide if you are willing to do what it takes. Based on what you wrote to us, I think the main thing you can do will be to improve your interpersonal relationships and gain allies instead of having enemies.

I mentioned at the beginning of this response that you should talk to someone closer to you and your situation. I think that would be very helpful for you, now and in the future. Talk to a respected family member or friend, a counselor or some other professional who can guide you to ways you can feel more positive and make the most of your knowledge and skills.

Best wishes to you! If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how things develop.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors