Hired To Take Over

Question:

Three weeks ago, I was hired to replace a program director that was soon to be fired. Before the Campus Director could terminate her, he got fired. Now the new Campus Director wants to promote another employee that has been there for two months. As a matter of fact, she was a student of mine two years ago. It appears to me that I am getting the “okie dokie wait a minute pokie”, about the position I was hired for. His excuse is, “I don’t know, I need to see if its a good fit.” I am making the most of it, accepting a lower position, being supportive of the “two month” gal, who is running to him with every little error the former director had made.

I am just about excluded from the loop because “I don’t know” anything about the inner workings of the company yet. But I feel that I have not been given a chance to prove myself. I started out behind the eight ball due to the fact that the former director, just before she left, caused havoc by undermining me. He told those I was training to write down everything they did not like about me, then made a big production and enticed them more. This was on the first couple of days of class, which caused the “fit” question to come about. Fortunately, two days after she was gone, the class settled down. All is well now. What do I do? Can he not put me in a position that I was specifically hired for? Do I sit back and observe? Need guidance Please!!

Signed,

Put Off


Answer:

Dear Put Off:

You are newly hired and so is your boss new to his position. You don’t say if the new Campus Director fired the program director you were hired to replace or if she resigned, but I assume that person is gone. Apparently, the new Campus Director is uneasy about assigning you to the position of program director for which you say you were hired, and he might want to put another employee in that role. Your new boss has stalled about honoring the former boss’ commitment to you or he would have done so.

Do you have anything in writing? Did you not get a written job description when you were hired? From what you say, I get the impression that you were not hired with more than an “oral commitment” or just a vague pre-hiring discussion with the possibility of replacing the program director. It sounds to me from what you say you were hired as a trainer with the potential of replacing a program director. Were you officially designated to replace program director by the man who hired you? If you were not, it may be the hard fact of the matter that the new Campus Director has no legal reason to put you in that position. He might feel some ethical reason to do so if he believes that former Campus Director actually committed to that course of action, but he might not, if he views that was just a “possibility” discussed with you in the hiring.

At the moment of your query to us, there is no program director, and another hire approximately two months previous to you, your former student, you say, is making herself known to the Campus Director. Did he tell you he wants to promote her to the position of program director?

You say “I am making the most of it, accepting a lower position.” You are in a lower position as a trainer. Right? You are not psychologically accepting that. Rather you are hurt that you have not been given the program director job. After a rocky start, your classes are going well, but you feel out of the loop. So what can you do while the position of program director is up in the air?

Your first and most promising alternative is: to announce to the Campus Director that you want that job, something you already have done. You can schedule a meeting with him and learn what he wants to see in you in order to put you in that position. Ask him. Take notes. List desired qualities he wants in a program director and/or projects he wants one to do. Before you meet with him, prepare, as you would for an interview, the qualities you think a program director should have and projects you propose. That means putting your cards on the table; credentials and reasons why you have the skills, experience required, and exciting ideas you have for the job.

Combine his and your goals for the job. Collaboratively engage him in mapping realistic objectives that you might accomplish. One aspect of that is to voice your interest in being included in what is going on that a program director should know. Say you are competing for this job and want to be given a fighting chance to prove you can do it. Suggest a time line, such as checking in with him once a week to review where you are on the road that you two have mapped–what you have done and project for the next.

That also means doing a bang up job as a trainer; demonstrating that your trainees gain the know-how and motivation that the program is designed to achieve. That also means high marks from those who are your trainees. That means inviting in the Campus Director to see you in action. Keep in mind that a secondary goal in all this is to make your Campus Director’s job exciting, effective, easier, and to look good in the eyes of those who see him.

A second alternative is to not openly speak more with Campus Director about want the position and more quietly and professionally to prove yourself in the role you are now in. I don’t think this would be as effective as the first approach I have described, particularly if there is a need to make a decision soon. A third alternative, one that I do not recommend, is a legal route. Speak with a labor attorney. Learn if you have breach of an oral, if not a written contract. If you take this alternative, do it quietly. Don’t mention it to anyone, especially the Campus Director, until and if you authorize an attorney to represent you. Then let her/him speak/write for you. Such an approach risks being on the outs with your organization; however, retaliation during a legal challenge also is risky for management. Will you get back to us in what you do? I want my thoughts to spur you to transform resentment to positive and creative thinking: To be your own coach these next several weeks. To be the most positive minded you have ever been. To accept what you must. To reject complaining to coworkers, friends and family. To become a cheerleader for others. To put yourself in the shoes of the new Campus Director.

Ego is looking out for one’s self. I have a strong feeling that that can best be achieved when you are caught up in wego-minded mindedness? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden