Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about job openings: Don’t positions have to be posted internally giving existing employees an opportunity to apply?
I have worked in a group home for the Special Needs population for the past 7 months and have been pleading with the house manager, my boss, for more hours since I started in September of last year. I made repeated requests for more hours and expressed my willingness to take on additional responsibility and basically do whatever it takes to get from my measly 19 hours per week to 40. He raves about my professionalism, how good I am with the clients, etc. He continued to assure me, there would be more hours soon due to some staff transitions in the house. I came aware through some conversations with him that there would soon be a Chef type position for the house. The position was never posted and out of nowhere, he hired some random guy for the position. When I approached him about why the position was never posted and told him, I would have jumped at the chance to apply for the position, he lied and told me it was the owner of the group home that made the decision.
After looking into it more, I found that this is a friend of his that he is starting a Rock band with to play at local pubs. This new chef now gets 24 hours and my hours have been cut to 13 hours per week. The bottom line, is I could have done both getting close to my goal of 40 hours. The conversation came up again after he had time to gather his thoughts and the story then changed to the fact that the new guy had been waiting for one year (a few months before I was hired) for the aforementioned staff transitions were to be completed before he could be hired. Since both conversations with him, he is adamant about getting me more hours in other group homes within the agency. He raved about me to the VP and everyone is now trying very hard to get me more hours but, there is very slim pickings right now so, I am still only getting 13 hours per week.
The funny part is that when I was hired, they asked me several questions about what holidays I could work and other typical inquiries while filling out paperwork to go in my permanent file as a new employee. One of the questions was would I be willing to be a chef for the house and my answer was a resounding “Yes”. This was written on my new employee form that I signed and is on file. So, my question is how to proceed as I am a displaced worker making peanuts doing this comparable to my previous positions as a National Account Manager in PE Sales.
I am an honorable man and loathe being lied to, especially by a boss. This is clear cronyism and I am very tempted to speak to the owner and make a stink about this. I have lost my home, cars, you name it, it’s gone but, I won’t give up my integrity and I don;t want to let a liar who should not be in a management position get away with this. I am a professional with morals working for someone who has repeatedly lied to me and who basically screwed me and my family out of desperately needed additional income so he could hire his new band buddy.
Don’t positions have to be posted internally giving existing employees an opportunity to apply? How would you recommend I proceed as I am ready to confront him again to get a straight answer. If I am still being lied to, I will go to the owner and request out of the house as the house manager is basically untrustworthy and does not have my best interest at heart. This is in CT, not sure if that matters. I have lost so much so, at this point I won’t let this go and continue to hope for more hours; who knows he may hire a drummer for the next position I get skipped over for. However, I do want to handle this the Right way to ensure this doesn’t happen again. I was thinking of maybe “bumping” into the owner and asking why I was passed over for the position since my manager told me it was her decision but, I’m not sure and again, I want to handle this correctly. Any advice is appreciated.
Signed, Lied To
Dear Lied To:
I think you’re wise to be very careful about how you handle this. Right now you are apparently well-liked and viewed positively. That could change quickly, even though it may be unfair for it to happen. You know that your manager; who you rely on for work hours and other work issues–would be angry to be accused of lying, or to find out you went behind his back and complained about him (and he would certainly find out.).
Further, the owner might be frustrated with the manager over it, but she probably would feel more loyalty to him than to you, if you go to her with a complaint about his actions. So, nothing good will come out of a direct complaint right now, even though that is your first inclination. In addition, although it may seem that your manager lied to you because of bad character, there may be more to it than you know. I’m taking your word for it that you are excellent in your work and would have been a good in the chef’s role for the house. If so, it could be your manager didn’t want to screw over you and didn’t intend to harm you seriously, he just wanted to help his new friend more than he wanted to help you. He couldn’t very well tell you that, so he made up a story. Or, even though you had talked to him about the chef’s position, if you didn’t submit a letter to him, he didn’t feel any pressure to consider you. You don’t say if you submitted a letter of request when you heard him talking about the position. If not, it may have given him the excuse he needed to hire someone else.
The thing that is a concern is that it would be rare for a manager to have the authority to advertise and hire on his own, even in a small organization. So, at some point an HR person and/or the VP and/or the owner, had to give your manager permission to hire someone without posting the job. Probably no one had looked at your new-employee information since you were hired, so no one would know you were willing to do that job. But, if no actual chef experience is required, it would have seemed they would have at least considered you, if you were viewed highly and they knew you wanted more hours. However, if the manager said, “I don’t have any requests for the job and I have an applicant in mind”, they may have taken his word for it.
You say that everyone is looking for ways to give you more hours. Whether it is true or not that you have that much support, I think you should consider a professionally correct way to get some information out to everyone about your work needs and also what you can do to help the business. Such a letter would also highlight the actions of your manager without seeming to be a complaint.
The truth is that the business and its profits are more important to the owner than individual employee needs. So, only taking the approach that you need more hours may not matter. But taking the approach that having more responsibilities gives you a chance to provide more of your hallmark client service, may be a compelling argument. Accept the fact that if you want to keep working there, you will have to manage your feelings about your manager. I notice in your message to us, you go from calm and rational sounding to agitated and very bitter sounding in a few sentences. That bitterness will cause people to put up a barrier when you’re communicating with those in your organization about this.
Do your best to keep an approach that reflects the kind of person who can handle greater responsibilities and can do well under pressure. It’s understandable to be angry over something like this, but use language that sounds frustrated or concerned, more than emotional or judgmental about your manager’s motives. Unless you think the culture of your organization simply wouldn’t allow it, write a letter that you can send to everyone above you, from your manager to the owner. You are a good writer, so I know you can word it the best way for your situation. Start by saying that you’ve enjoyed working there and are appreciative of the support they’ve shown you since being hired. Then, you can say a few things to make the following key points:
*Even though you are sure that decision-makers (you can name them) know how much you need to work more hours, you want to make sure there is a clear and written record that you need 40 hours or close to it, to be able to provide for your family. *You are willing to do any tasks of the organization, in any of the group homes, to allow you to financially continue to stay working there. In addition, having more responsibilities will give you more opportunities to help the company. (You might say something about how you have come to respect the program and want to do all you can to help it be even more successful in the future.)
*After that statement, something like this would be helpful: “For example, I would have been extremely happy to have had the job of chef for the house. I was very disappointed to find out the position had been filled before I had a chance to write a letter of request for the job. It would have been perfect for my work needs and I would have been able to do effective work for the house and the business if I had gotten the position. I want to make sure that if any appropriate opportunities, in any position or in any house, comes open in the future, I will be considered.
*Then you can briefly state an overview of your work skills and experiences, and/or list the kinds of jobs you would like to have if they come open. *Say something to the effect that you would like to be told if there is something you need to do to make it more likely you will be considered for new openings. You could mention anything you have done to increase your knowledge about the work or you could mention the positive results you’ve gotten. When an employee says something about wanting to know what they need to do to show they’re readiness for additional work, those in higher roles tend to either reassure them or tell them a few things that would be helpful. Being reassured would be good!
*Close by saying that you will continue to communicate with Kevin Smith (your manager) about jobs in your current house, but will also check regularly with HR (if there is one) and others (name them if possible) about openings, so you can become aware and get a letter in the moment you hear about them. Then, you can thank them again and say that you are available to discuss any aspect of your work or how you can better support the mission of XXX Company. A letter such as that sounds concerned and strong and highlights your recent frustrations and upset, without being only about a complaint. If you send that to everyone up the leadership chain, most will respond. I’ll bet the owner does. That might give you a chance to say again that you were disappointed in missing out on the chef’s job and hope to be considered in the future. Move onto the future quickly though, so as not to sound like you’re focused on what is essentially undoable right now. (It may not stay that way, though!) You may find that this place of work will never be able to provide you with the kind of work opportunities you need. Group homes work on very small profits and they tend to cut corners every chance they get. Maybe the one you work with is different, but it’s true of many of them. I hope, if you like the work, you’re able to settle in there and grow. This has undoubtedly been a disappointment and has shaken your confidence in your manager. Give him a chance to make it up to you and he may very well do so. If not, at least you haven’t burned any bridges. Best wishes to you with all of this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what your next step turns out to be and what results you get.
Tina Lewis Rowe