Today’s reader note is a long one, but it’s also a subject that’s come up more than one time in my career. What do you do when you’re passed over for a promotion? The story has a few nuances along the way as well.
My employer has been asking me repeatedly to accept an assistant manager position. I’ve turned it down multiple times because I wanted to go back to school. Unfortunately, school hasn’t happened yet. Now, I have a new manager (someone that I trained, BTW) and I’ve been asked again to become the assistant manager. This time, I agreed with the condition that if I get info school that I will give notice, so they can find another assistant.
All was good, I passed my background check and was ready for the title since I was already doing most the work for past months. My manager told me that when I returned from my pre-scheduled vacation that we’d start my training. While I was away, I received a text from my manager saying that she had reconsidered her decision and wasn’t going to promote anyone. She was just going to do it all herself. I thought to myself, “Whatever…that’ll be short lived.”
I just received a copy of the schedule. There is a new employee and below their name it says, “assistant manager in training”. How should I handle this? I am so angry and ready to explode for obvious reasons like being lied to, feeling betrayed, etc. There must be some kind of rule to prevent them from being able to do this especially since I have not had any disciplinary action against me. Please advise what steps I can take to stop this!! Thank you!!!
We all know there’s probably more to this story that what we have here, but I do think there’s a disconnect worth exploring. I can see both sides.
The Employee’s Side: The company has been asking repeatedly for them to consider a promotion to an assistant manager role. After much discussion, the employee decides to do it. They go through all of the paperwork, getting ready to start, and the role is pulled from them. Then, they find out it was given to someone else. They feel like their manager lied to them with the whole “I’m not going to have an assistant. I’ll do it myself.” comment. The employee was doing the company a favor by taking on the promotion to this role and now they’re angry.
The Company’s Side: We’ve pressured an employee who really doesn’t want to be an assistant manager into the job. They are going to resign the role when they sign up for school, which could be at any time. We like this employee and they do a good job, but we really need an assistant manager who is going to be in the position longer. Since the employee never really wanted this role anyway, we’ll give it to someone else and they’ll be relieved that they don’t have to do it.
You can see how these types of situations occur. Both the employee and the manager thought they were doing the right thing. Hopefully, they can take steps to resolve the matter. Here are three things to consider:
- Both the employee and manager should make sure that their disagreement doesn’t impact the work of the new employee who has been given the assistant manager role. We don’t know who this person is and their skills, but they’re not a part of this.
- The employee needs to decide if they really wanted this promotion or role. And if the answer is “no”, then think about whether they can move past this. Regardless of how it was communicated. I agree that the company could and should have done a better job communicating, but the bottom-line is the employee didn’t want the job.
- The company should acknowledge to the employee that they communicated this all wrong. If they wanted to make a change, that’s fine – but treat the employee with respect and let them know the reasons for the decision. They still might be a little unhappy, but they do understand.
Sometimes organizations must make unpopular decisions. No one likes it. But treating people with respect is an important part of communicating the message. I believe employees can accept disappointing news when it’s delivered properly.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference in Washington, DC11