Denial Of Promotion


I was offered a promotion in early August. I worked with the Operations Manager and H/R manager (coincidently the same person) on what my new job description would be. This new job description takes some responsibilities away from the Operations Manager. I was told I would be gotten back to shortly.

Two months went by with no answer. I e-mailed the owner of the company (who initially spoke with me about the promotion). He said he was aware that nothing had changed and was trying to force an answer for me from his location within the next week. The following Monday the operations manager wrote me an offer that he said he was going to run by the owner for approval. Friday the operations manager told me he was holding off due to “disruptions within the company” and referenced some rumors, which he had heard regarding himself. He implied that they had come from me and disruptions and rumors such as this have to be cut out like a cancer.

I am not the source of these rumors and let him know that. He was leaving for a trade show and said we would meet again the following Friday to lay our cards on the table and get this resolved. (implying that I was going to be fired). Is this allowed? I have not been given any chance to face the people he heard these rumors from and he would not quote these rumors. I may add that this promotion, offered initially by the owner, does make this operations manager/hr manager look bad as it does take away a fair amount of his responsibilities. Is this ok? I need some advice as to a plan of action in case I am fired this coming Friday. Please do not publicly post this question until after the 1st of November.


Worried I’ll Be Fired


Dear Worried I’ll Be Fired:

We will honor your request that this not be posted. Yours is a complex matter. If I understand you, the Operations/HR Manager, who is the one to carry out the promotional offer originally made by the owner of your company, asserts that it is being held up because you are the source of destructive rumors. You worry that he believes he has this from a reliable source and rather than see you promoted to take on major responsibilities that have been his, you will be fired. You ask, “Is this ok?’ From here, it does not appear ok. Can he fire you? Can he make you look so bad that the owner believes him? It is understandable that you are anxious about the “laying your cards on the table meeting.” You denied starting any rumor about the Operations/HR Manager. Apparently he doesn’t believe you. And from his perspective and from reading what you’ve said about the context of this situation, the odds are that someone said you talked to him/her about being promoted to take over some of the Operations Manager’s job. It would have been natural for you to talk about being promoted. And it could be normal for someone to have interpreted that as a demotion of that individual. The fact is that you too saw how it could be seen that way. You wrote: “I may add that this promotion, offered initially by the owner, does make this operations manager/hr manager look bad as it does take away a fair amount of his responsibilities.” Even if you only told one person that you are to be promoted to take over some of the Operations Manager’s work, that individual could have enlarged that to say, “This makes the Operations Manager look bad.” Your options: · Refuse to meet with the Operations/ HR Manager because you think he is self-interested in making you the bad guy. · Realize that it is difficult to prove a negative; that you said nothing. Listen to the evidence that you did. Reflect if you ever said anything to anyone about being promoted to that or any other position. If you said nothing, stick to your guns. But if you did, at your Friday meeting with the Operations/HR Manager, admit it, thinking if you lied that you said nothing, it wouldn’t be believed. State that you can understand how even mentioning being promoted to take over some of his responsibilities could be construed maliciously or innocently. Admit that the long delay made you anxious. State that you don’t want any such rumor to prevent you from the promotion; provided if he will work cooperatively with you. Prepare the reasons why you think you have earned this and can learn to do the job with his assistance.

· Request to meet with the owner alone or in a three-way with the Operations/HR Manager and you. State that you are dismayed that the Operations/HR Manager has accused you of starting a malicious rumor and that you has denied it. Assert that you want the position, but not if the Operations/HR is against you. There might be other options and possibly you might consult others with no connection to your workplace, who can help you think through what to do. I have seen employees survive and even been promoted when they have make mistakes. I doubt that you will be fired. To be sure, an owner can fire you for a good reason or no reason; however, you must have earned the respect of the owner if he spoke to you of a promotion, and therefore, that respect shouldn’t be destroyed by one accusation that you started a rumor. Sometimes conflict can lead to clarification of who does what and to working through misunderstanding and mistakes. Think of this as problem solving.

Don’t talk about this with other employees this week. But hang in there. Think positively. Don’t allow this unhappy situation to play and replay in your head. Fighting for yourself is nothing about which to be ashamed if you can do so in a professional way. See it as you might a new interview, realizing that worrying won’t get you a job and if you don’t get it, you will not have wasted time in worry. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Keep in mind that saving face and looking good is in the interest of all concerned.

William Gorden