Deemed Incompetent for Promotion

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about not ready for promotion: When the opportunity for promotion came along, I was told my writing skills were not up to par; a skill of mine that has always been considered a strength by me and my past employers.

I have been working in this office for over 2 years now. When I was hired, my Manager planned a “10-year plan” for me, which included possibilities for growth/promotion. Being hired for a position that was below my skill level was considered a stepping-stone. When the opportunity for promotion came along, I was told my writing skills were not up to par; a skill of mine that has always been considered a strength by me and my past employers. After taking his advice and taking a “Clear Writing” course, I was once again passed up for promotion.

However, I was asked to train this new person who came in without any prior knowledge of our organization. I constantly support this new person, and have been asked to take on her tasks on more than one occasion, due to her lack of knowledge or lack of technology proficiency. I am to the point where I don’t feel motivated to assist my new colleague. After all, I was deemed too incompetent to hold the official position. I have the urge to point this out every time he adds to my to-do list. While I have been applying elsewhere in the organization within other offices, I am not sure where to go from here in the interim.

Signed, Discouraged

Dear Discouraged:

I can understand why you are discouraged and are looking beyond your current position. Of course, from this distance I have only your side of the story, but it is clear that you now see your boss as a deterrent to, and possibly an enemy preventing you from, promotion, and for good reason. Applying for other positions within your company is wise. Each of us from time to time must explore what is available and take steps on and to shape our career path. That’s good.

You conclude, “I am not sure where to go from here in the interim.” Therefore you have reached out to Ask the Workplace Doctors. Hopefully our advice will help, but I must say upfront, most likely what you should do is closer to where you are right now. In short, I predict no answers to your frustration will come from afar. Metaphorically, you will find them in your own backyard. They probably won’t be striking a gusher or finding diamonds, but you will find better days ahead. With that in mind, don’t pass by the suggestions that follow. To be sure some of the questions and comments I raise from afar may not apply.

Please think of them not as not-applying to you, but as prompts to spur your own problem solving:

1. Do you like your current job if you weren’t assigned to train a new hire? Is it something you do well and enjoy? You say it is below your skill level. By that I assume you mean pay level too. Therefore, is what you want is to get a job that takes on more responsibility and consequently better pay? What have you done to add value to your workplace? Can you point to ways you have cut waste: wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy, and wasted money? Have you been a cheerleader of coworkers and your manager? Have you generated greater attention and commitment to satisfying internal and/external customers? Have you approached you job as a team member that seeks each day to make your boss and others jobs easier and more efficient? Have you come to work as well groomed as you were when you applied for your job?

2. Have you followed up on that 10-year plan? Have you helped your boss to coach and mentor you? You took his advice of a Clear Writing Course. Without being a pain in the butt by being too dependent or complaining, have you nurtured that boss/bossed relationship? Have you asked how you are doing and engaged him in planning your interim steps on a career path?

3. Have you made contacts beyond your current work area and cultivated a network within your organization? After two years, are there one or more individuals who might provide a mirror for you to better see how you come across? Have you complained about your lot or have you build a network within your workplace? Have you soaked up some of what is beyond where you are? Have you seen other roles for which you are qualified and have trained for them? Have you studied your workplace and become familiar with its production/delivery and financial goals? Can you talk its business?

4. Have you joined a professional association and/or bettered yourself more generally, such as Toastmasters, singing in a choir, and worked out at a fitness club or did morning walks with a neighbor? I know we each have only a limited number of hours in the day, but have you volunteered as a tutor to adults or children at your library?

Get my point? Are you a happy, giving-back person? No doubt you wish to have a prescription that cures, rather than an array of matters to consider. Don’t address them all. There may be only one or two of those I present that can help you make a difference. Needless to say, you should be able to know that these thought given to you situation speak quietly to you and for you. Work is hard enough without feeling you are “done wrong” by a boss who doesn’t appreciate all you do. You might not be able to change that and so must vote with your feet. But before you look elsewhere, I challenge you to look in your own backyard. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and isn’t that what you want for yourself, your coworkers, your boss, and your workplace?

William Gorden