Falling Fighter

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about :

I have 8 years of working experience in an industry as a middle management staff in a supporting department. Two years ago, I immigrated to another country to marry my wife there and to find a new job. I was fortunate to have an offer from a fellow countryman of which is in the same industry. It is an entry-level position in the core business unit as my previous experience in the supporting department is only partially relevant. Negotiation took place, and I was offered a slightly higher salary than the usual entry-level pay (even have an increment after probation).

In my 6 months of employment, I excelled during a regional corporate conference has gained the attention of the corporate founders. My boss was very happy then. When I went back to work, I heard that the founders recommended my involvement in some high profile assignments (global projects). However, my boss has a love interest in the workplace and she wants to demonstrate her capabilities in these assignments in order to get inside the circle of trust among the top management. She has this female “apprentice’ with her and they wanted to do these jobs all by themselves.

She hinted me to back off and I did (for my respect of her seniority, not just for my boss). There was also a bonus-sharing scheme in my company, for each job you handled; you are entitled to some percentage in the profit the job revenues. Distribution of percentages is up to the most senior members involved (even thought they claimed it to be fair assessment of your involvement in project management).

As I was the only male worker at that time, my boss assigned me to most of his jobs that are more suitable for man. As most projects for the local company are from my boss repeated client, his love interest and her apprentice anticipated that I would be getting a fat bonus. Rumors of me being “greedy’ began circulating the office starts each time I attended to a floating RFQ.

My boss even pulled me into his office and told me to stop being greedy. As a result, I stopped attending to any RFQ for the past 6 months. Recently, I was also not included in the list of floating RFQ. A month after I stopped attending to RFQ, my boss took away all projects I was attending to. He claimed this is to help me tone down the mistakes I have made along the way (some are minor mistakes due to my lack of skills, but mostly magnified by his love interest and her apprentice).

Thankfully, my relationship with my colleagues is great (distanced from my boss, his love interest and her apprentice though). I planned 2-3 creative and successful Birthday parties and everyone in the office participated. When it comes to my boss birthday, I didn’t make any plan as he has openly announced his one-week leave application. However, his love interest gathered everyone at the very last minute and announced the plan to hold a surprised party. In her note, she implied indirectly to mock the lack of initiative to prepare for the boss, the most crucial person in the company.

Regardless of the short time frame, I came up with new idea to celebrate his birthday with the help from some colleagues. They are promoted by year-end. By year-end, my bonus calculation was negative. For each job involving my boss and I, I am entitled to 5% while he gets 95%. For my assignment with another Director, the earlier distribution arrangement was edited to a smaller share by my boss as that person left the company and my boss thought the Director deserved more (even thought she did not get that bonus due to her departure). As a result of being negative in the bonus calculation, I did not receive my 13 month AWS. But I did receive a lecturing from him when checking with him on the status.

As I have no project to manage, no RFQ to attend, I am looking for areas that I can bring some value to the company. I tried to develop some business through my network. When my boss saw that I have attended to a RFQ in a weekly meeting, he openly shows his unhappiness on my effort.I was then pulled to a meeting with him, his love interest (now promoted to Assistant Manager) and a Project Manager (whom I have never worked with). He openly doubts the credibility of my prospect (of whom I have been working with some of our country offices).

He then moved on to pinpoint all my weakness and give me three paths to choose: 1. To lower my current salary and start all over again as an entry level staff, 2. To lower my current salary and start all over again as an entry level staff in the department of which I have 8 years of experience, or 3. To quit the company. When I went back to him a week later and told him I choose path 1. He said he is not convinced that he should continue to hire me. He wanted me to find concrete reasons to back this decision. When I email him to open this discussion, I have been receiving the silence treatment till now. I am a fighter and I have been fighting hard. It is now I am so beaten up and tired of all these. What should I do? Why is he doing these? Is this job still worth fighting for? BTW, the reason he can shelve me for so long without any work is because he has just hired two new fresh graduates as entry-level staffs to clear all workloads.

Signed, Falling Fighter

DearĀ Falling Fighter:

Have you labeled your query correctly: Falling Fighter? Your description is one of falling, falling, falling. In short, it appears that your boss wants you out. The efforts you have made to impress him otherwise have not been convincing.It also is clear that you feel beaten.

But from what I can sense, you have demonstrated an aggressive go-get–em attitude, and you have a big stake in this job, having immigrated to marry. What might be your next step if you want to stay? To cave in to choice 2. To lower my current salary and start all over again as an entry level staff in the department of which I have 8 years of experience? This second choice presented by your boss might not be your only option if you indeed do want to stay and are a fighter. Have you considered other options, such as making a case for the value you have brought and can bring this company and/or seeking a transfer? If you opt to make a value-added case it should be in writing and in person to appropriate levels above or at least parallel in rank to your boss.

You have been with this company long enough to have made connections within. Seek out someone or more persons that know of your work or possibly one who might provide independent-disinterested advice. You mention that you have at least a passing knowledge of the company’s founders. Your best line of making the case might be to go to the top. What have you got to loose if you do? Or there might be an ombudsman with whom you can seek advice.

There also is the fight “em by attacking your boss and his favoritism. This is a more risky option, but in light of the “love relationship” you describe, he is vulnerable.You say after of being accused of greed you have withdrawn and that you have been evaluated negatively. These are enough to make you feel frustrated and beaten down. Now, you must once again find the can-do spirit that you had early on if you are to be the fighter you say you are. You’ve been knocked about and down.

So get up. Go for broke. Meanwhile quietly put out feelers for new places of employment. You have much experience and should be marketable by headhunters. You are young and even in tough times you have much to offer. My associate Workplace Doctor Tina Lewis Rowe may have additional or different suggestions. She is wise in the world of business. Do feel free to keep us posted and do not allow this all to sour you. Working together wherever you are with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. By that I mean life is better and work is better if you can make all your decisions based on preserving your own sense of self-worth and at the same time do all you can to promote the worth of those about you.

William Gorden