My Boss Isn’t Giving Me A Chance!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about job problems and an offer: If I resigned, they wouldn’t fight or even attempt to try to keep me.I have been offered a position at another company for which I worked for in the past at the same pay rate that I am at now, so I have options but I do not want to desert my staff in the situation they are now.

My History: I am a new, young first time manager and was hired from outside of a medium sized company (120pax) to head the biggest department (30pax) and have been in this job for just nearing 2 years. My Department: Customer Services is made up of different areas that were put together just before I was hired and I was required to restructure it so that it worked more efficiently.

My Company: A telecommunications company and unfortunately my department is looked down upon by the technical and finance departments of the company. Other departments see us as lower. If one person makes a mistake, then all good work that others did is immediately pushed aside.

My Problem: A former CEO, who hired me and whom I really admired, he had been with the company from its beginning. He had an excellent reputation and his great knowledge so was well respected. He always made it a point to talk to me or let me know if things were going wrong so that I could work on the problem areas, which I really appreciated.

When he left the company (about 9 months ago), we had an interim CEO who also gave me constructive feedback, advice and just generally showed an interest in myself as a manager as well as my department.About 4months ago we got another interim CEO who eventually became the permanent CEO, and it is with him that I am finding that I am having problems. When he first arrived, he talked a lot about Customer Services being the most important thing in the company, which was great. He also mentioned wanting to spend some time in my department to see how things run etc.

During the changes of CEO, I was drafted (not volunteered) to work on a project (to switch a one billing and CRM software to another). I had no skills in actually completing it (it required people with an IT background). The IT staff, which actually had skills to completing the project, refused to work on it. They had not and did not support the project from the very beginning as they thought it was not right for our company. The situation I was in was that if I refused to work on the project, I would be condemned and hung up to dry by the Financial Controller, who incidentally was the project manager and the person that chose the software against the advice of the IT department. Another and I staff spent hours working on the project to the point where I was concerned that I was neglecting my department.

I raised my concerns with the new CEO who told me in frustrated tones that the project was a priority and if I was neglecting my department then so be it. During the many hours that we worked on the project I did not see him at all. (Note: Being a Manager, I am not entitled to any overtime, so I worked till late hours in the morning for free for the duration of the project). He showed no interest in it, and whenever he asked me any questions about it, his eyes glazed over like he was bored when I was answering and that he only asked for the sake of asking. He did, however, make it a point to have drinks with the technicians and make time for sitting with them when they were working overtime. He did not and still does not spent any time in Customer Services or give the same amount of time or interest in my department as any other department. After we got the software up and running, I made a point to spend as much time as possible with my department to get back on track. By this time, it was time for my appraisal. I never heard any problems or feedback from him regarding my performance, so I went into the appraisal and walked out not knowing what he thought of me at all. When I receive the results of my appraisal, I received no pay rise and very little of my entitled bonus. In his letter, he stated that since his arrival (which incidentally was during the whole time I was focused solely on the project) he thought that my department had not made any improvements at all. Reading between the lines, he thought my performance had been very poor. However, the type of person I am, I took it as constructive criticism and as a shake up to improve myself and my department but my image and respect for him dropped considerably.

I am determined to improve my department but the position I am in is such that it seems that no matter what I or my department do, it will be not be seen as praise worthy by him or that he would see it as “so-so”. I feel also that at this point nothing I do or my department does will be good enough. Also, if I resigned, they wouldn’t fight or even attempt to try to keep me.I have been offered a position at another company for which I worked for in the past at the same pay rate that I am at now, so I have options but I do not want to desert my staff in the situation they are now. I want and am determined to make improvements to the point that the CEO and Executives notice, and then I will move on. I just feel that the way it is now, I will not get a chance. Can you help?

Signed, Want To Prove Myself

Dear Want To Prove Myself:

You are fortunate. In the two years of employment at this company, you have learned a lot about what it can occur when those who hire you move on and are replaced. You have learned that sometimes those above do not fully earn their right to appraise because they don’t know what those they appraise are doing. You are fortunate that you have an option to return to work where you did before.

I can understand that this offer presents a dilemma because you feel loyalty to your department at the same time you think that the prospects of earning respect where you are is slim and that things would be better for you if you moved on (or should I say moved back?).

Obviously, this choice is one that only you can weigh because you are close to it and I am from afar. I have seen some individual weather through in spite of the displeasure of their boss and I have seen those who make changes for the good at various points on their career paths. You can feel out the prospects with your former employer to learn how long that offer might be good and what it would entail–if a move back would be to your advantage.You have the right and must weigh if you wish to respond to your appraisal. You can do so both in writing and orally; explaining that you were pulled from your department to work on that special project, detailing what that involved and accomplished. You can make a case for the overtime it took and the added responsibility it entailed and your disappointment in receiving no acknowledgement of that either in praise or pay. That kind of confrontation puts those above on notice that you want their respect and feel misused. You can request that your rebuttal be inserted in your file. This encounter should evolve to a conversation about what you want to accomplish in your department and what your superiors want from it; also what you want from them. You can explore with your current CEO and Executives where you stand, candidly stating that you performance appraisal has dampened you hopes of now making a genuine contribution. In such a conversation, it probably would be unwise to say you have been offered a job elsewhere. But it would be appropriate to state that you want to make your department respected, one that adds value. You are fortunate. Don’t brood or make it a topic of conversation with colleagues or be obsessed with it home. See this as a frustrating yet adventurous time on your career path. I predict that your determination and resilience will see you through this. You might find other Q&As in our archives speak to your current situation. Read some of the answers of my associate workplace doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe. There is no one wiser. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. How might my signature sentence apply to your situation?

William Gorden