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Complaints won't get you a promotion

Q: After working at an amusement park for three years, I am hoping for a promotion to supervisor. My last attempt, however, was a fiasco. When my supervisor quit, I told our manager, "Bob," that I was interested in the position. Bob gave me an application and said he would keep me in mind.

Two weeks later, before going on vacation, I reminded Bob of my interest in the supervisory job. When I returned, a co-worker informed me that an outside applicant had been hired. I immediately asked Bob why I had not been given an interview.

Bob initially said that he forgot I was interested, but probably would have given me the job if he had remembered. When I reminded him about our previous conversations, he said he "vaguely" recalled them, but that the other applicant was more qualified.

I'm planning to send a written complaint to the general manager, because I don't want to be overlooked again. Do you think this will help?

A: Despite the fact that your bumbling boss can't keep his own story straight, complaining is not a wise move. Your objective is not to overturn the previous decision, but to influence the next one. Sounding resentful or dissatisfied might actually keep you from being promoted, so let's consider a different strategy.

Since Bob's opinion is important, arrange a meeting with him to discuss your career goals. Without mentioning his previous blunder, ask what he looks for in a supervisor, request suggestions for strengthening your qualifications, and express appreciation for his advice. Follow up with a thank-you email and copy the general manager.

For example: "Bob, I just wanted to thank you for taking time to talk with me about my career. Your advice was very helpful. I have enjoyed working at the park for the past three years and would certainly like to be considered if a supervisory position becomes available."

This approach has several benefits. You can remind Bob of your interest in a promotion, learn more about how he evaluates candidates, and gain some good will by sharing a compliment with his boss. At the same time, you are tactfully advising the general manager of your desire to move up.

Boss' wife is on payroll — now what?

Q: Our boss' wife was recently given a position in our department. She now works two levels below her husband, "Rick," who is the head of operations. This is clearly against the company's nepotism policy, which states that no one shall have any supervisory authority over a family member.

After several people complained, the human resources director said she would review the resumes of all applicants for the position. However, this hardly seems like the appropriate response for such a blatant policy violation. Rick's wife should just be removed from the job.

Some of us feel that Rick's boss, the CEO, should be told about this problem, but we're worried about possible retribution. What would you suggest?

A: First, let me extend my deepest sympathy to the unlucky soul who is now expected to supervise the boss's wife. The impossibility of that task clearly illustrates why nepotism policies are necessary and must be enforced. When the informal power of an employee exceeds the formal power of the supervisor, the management structure simply doesn't work.

Under these circumstances, objective decisionmaking becomes impossible. Whenever this woman makes a request, receives an assignment, or has a performance review, her manager will be considering Rick's possible reaction. And no matter how competent or congenial she is, colleagues will inevitably resent her undue influence.

For all those reasons, Rick should be ordered to reverse this self-serving decision. Unfortunately, however, he may already have the CEO's approval, since only an idiot would hire his wife without first consulting his boss. That would certainly explain your HR director's feeble response to complaints.

On the other hand, if Rick has managed to surreptitiously maneuver his wife onto the payroll, then the CEO deserves to know. Given the risks involved in ratting out your boss, this may be one time when an anonymous note would be the smartest strategy.

If you decide to go that route, do not use a company computer to create or transmit the message, since that could leave an electronic trail. Present the facts in a calm, businesslike manner, indicating that many employees are upset about this decision. After that, you will just have to wait and see what happens.

Complaints won't get you a promotion 03/09/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 6:13pm]
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