I’m so frazzled I can’t think

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have worked at this company for six years and  have received no promotions. I have also applied to many internal vacancies,but I feel that my papers get lost because I am working hard for the department. I mean they don’t want me to leave the department and don’t want to increase my salary or promotion. When I joined I was in the workshop as a technician and now working in data entries department still as technician.

We had a new hr business partner who had a meeting with us called one to one meeting in which we were asked the nature of the work and I have described to her and she said there are going to be changes after six month but nothing showed up after this long period.  Me and my other two partner decided to take step and talk to her . She listened to us very carefully while she asked me what is my problem. I told her that my salary is low and I am not getting low paid for the work I am doing.

I responded: To clarify, you feel like you are not getting promoted because your boss finds you too valuable?

He wrote back:

I don’t think so or otherwise would give me the promotion

To which I replied:

Then have you asked what you need to do differently?

And his response:

Well no my brain is getting jammed I swear I cannot  think like before. Now I feel like a loser. Help me give me a suggestion.  

I totally know this feeling. When things are going poorly and you’re frustrated and increasingly angry at your boss, nothing seems clear. You’re being treated unfairly. (I admit to editing out the part about working 16 hour days, which I shouldn’t have, so there you go, he has been working 16 hour days.) And you’re completely wiped out. So, the solution doesn’t seem to come naturally.

I think there are three possibilities here:

1. You really are being held back because you’re a hard worker and your boss doesn’t want to lose you.

2. You may be good at what you do but you’re not being promoted because you lack the skills to do a different job. You may be an expert in this job, but that doesn’t mean you’re suited for another job.

3. Your boss is simply a jerk.

Let’s start with possibility 3. If your boss is just a jerk then no matter what you do, things will not improve there. You will need to find a new job before you will get improvement. Because a jerky boss can hold you back and prevent transfers in many companies (and indeed, you’ve been unsuccessful at transferring) you may wish to consider focusing all extra effort onto finding a new job.

Possibility 2 is also likely. This is a very common scenario. Different jobs require different skill sets, and just because you’re really good at A, doesn’t mean you’ll be really good at B. It means you’re capable of learning things and hard work, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t mean you can immediately do it.

Managers should be interested in helping their employees progress, and a good manager will be more than willing to do so. So, you go to your boss and say, “I’ve been here six years. I’m doing a great job as illustrated by X and Y. I feel like I’m ready to move up. What do I need to do in order to be considered for a position doing Z?” And then shut up and listen. He may say, “You will never be able to do Z!” which means he could be in the jerk category, or it could be an accurate assessment of your innate abilities (but most likely just the jerk thing). He may say, “Well, in order to do Z, you really need to have skills in A, B, and C.” To which you respond, “Great. Can I shadow Bill, who currently does A, for a couple hours a week so I can start to learn how to do that?”

It’s important that you don’t stand there blankly saying, “Okay, tell me how to do A, B, and C.” Yes, a good manager will arrange and encourage growth opportunities, but your career is really your responsibility

Possibility 1 happens more often than managers like to admit. If you’re a great employee (and working 16 hours a day means he’d probably have to hire multiple people to replace you) it’s no wonder he doesn’t want you to move on. Some managers in this situation can be like an abusive partner: “No one else would ever want you! You’re lucky I put up with you, you stupid cow!” And of course, secretly being thrilled to have you on board.

Since your HR manager has expressed interest in  you and your co-workers, I would go to her and express your concerns, like this: “I’ve been working like crazy, getting great results and am ready to move up, but my manager is holding me back. I know he finds me valuable, but to be honest, I can’t keep up the 16 hour days, and I’m afraid it’s given him a false impression of what is realistic. What advice do you have for me?”

Understand that when she said there would be changes in 6 months, she was speaking in general terms and it will probably take more than 6 months, but it sounds like she’s at least interested in helping you. Take advantage of that.

And regardless, unless you think you’ll be fired for slowing down, stop working so many hours. You will kill yourself. And if you’ll be punished for cutting the hours, that’s a sign that your boss is a jerk, and you should focus extra hard on getting out of there.


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5 thoughts on “I’m so frazzled I can’t think

  1. So, in scenario #2, he goes to the boss and asks if he can train into a new position… Would it be also wise to present a solution or idea of who could train in his current position (or at least offer to train someone else -or many) so that the boss feels that the company won’t be stuck? At 16 hours/day, that would equal 4 hours of OT and 4 hours DT hopefully! That’s like paying almost 3 FT people to do the work at regular time!

    1. Unfortunately, I doubt this guy is in the US. His grammar and name makes me think Africa, so I’m not sure OT or DT would be in effect. Regardless, it’s a rotten situation.

      I could have asked where he was from, but I didn’t. I always answer from a US perspective, because a. I know US culture and law and b. my audience is largely US based.

  2. Hello N. HR,
    Unless he’s part of a CBA or working in California would Double time factor in. Still, lots of OT no matter how it’s calculated.

  3. 16 hours a day is a lot. You’ll work yourself into an early grave. It’s ok sometimes but not every day. If the boss asks you why you’re cutting back, say it’s not healthy and it’s better for everyone if you get a good night’s sleep.

    1. Exactly! If he’s working 16 hours a day, no wonder his “brain is getting jammed” and he “cannot think like before”.

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