Managing Up – Part 1

 Managing up can mean different things to different people.  One may view it as a set of techniques and strategies to allow a subordinate to survive when working for a difficult supervisor. Another may see it as a means to harmonize actions with the person you are reporting to in order to pave a smooth road to more money and a promotion. Still others may see it as manipulation or performance acting in order to achieve a personal objective. Whatever your point of view the general consensus is there is a need to work with your manager in order to improve the climate in your work place and achieve personal and organizational goals.

I will draw largely from many years of reporting to a variety of managers. The techniques mentioned will be some that I’ve used personally or observed used masterfully by others. I will also refer to the literature around management and leading, ultimately providing the perspective of a person reporting to a manager and the viewpoint of a manager receiving the strategies.

Articles written on the topic of managing up, advise employees to first understand their personal motives and objectives. A high level of emotional intelligence through greater self-awareness, let’s you know what you wish to gain from a relationship with a supervisor. These may be a variation on rewards and recognitions to include, increased compensation, promotional opportunities or simply survival goals. It is also helpful in designing strategies to work with your boss. This analysis also exposes the non-negotiable, things you will not give up to succeed in a manager / employee relationship. You need to know what is in it for you or what you need to acquire to make it worth the time spent. The personal drivers of your behavior will become clear to you during this time of reflection. It is important to be genuine, transparent and honest with yourself.

Secondly, you must determine the goals and objectives of your manager. If the boss is a perfectionist, give her what she wants. She needs to deal with different styles, but you may not have the rank or credibility to change her. Managers have different management and personality styles. You need to know if they are autocratic, where they believe all objectives should come from the top of the organization or participatory where teams are emphasized.  They may also be consultative, persuasive, decorative or laissez-fare. The management style will give you insight into how they will run their slice of the organization.  A review or management style literature contains definitions of the styles and how to work effectively within them.

Managers leave a corporate footprint within their organizations. There will be evidence everywhere on their trials and tribulations, conquests, contributions and celebrations of achievement. The information is present within the company history and you will find it by indulging in research or investigative reporting. This research will involve interviews and asking the right questions.

These interviews may start as early as your pre-employment interview or the job interview prior to the promotion.  You want to determine what drives the manager, what makes them tick and what ticks them off.  You want to know their philosophies, values, ambitions and thoughts around teamwork and individual achievement, so you can see if their goals mesh with your work ethic. What are the manager’s views about performance and how it is rewarded or punished? You want to know what excellence looks like to them, their work habits and decision-making strategies. Do they involve their team in decision-making? Do they value those who come to them with solutions rather than problems to be solved? The manager has a track record as clear as footsteps in the snow; you want to know as much as possible, so you don’t make mistakes when managing your career while managing up.

The interviews should involve direct conversations with the manager, but also input should be solicited from others who have worked for her. A talk with their peers and others within the company will be helpful. You ultimately want to build a bridge with your performance to get you from where you are to where you want to be. If you are currently working for the manager you should have much of this information, but are you using it to your advantage? Here are a few do’s and don’ts that may be helpful for you.


  1. Perform your job with excellence
  2. Make the manager look good
  3. Determine values, philosophies and pet peeves
  4. Avoid conflict unless the manager thrives on it to test your mettle
  5. Keep them informed about matters involving their area
  6. Have their back, protect them and cover their blind side
  7. Maintain confidentiality of key events that occur in your area
  8. Become an invaluable asset – indispensable

The first step in managing up is to do your own job with excellence, within the parameters of corporate policy and professionalism. Know your job and do your job. Know your boss and do your best to make them look good. The manager’s job can be one of the loneliest jobs in the company. The higher they rise in an organization, the more this statement applies. If you become a valued asset to the manager, this will enable you to manage up more effectively. Rosanne Badowski, co-author of Managing Up: How to forge an effective relationship with those above you says that your boss wants you to “go above and beyond your tasks assigned to you so that you can enhance your manager’s work.”  Penelope Trunk in the November 2006 issue of Managing Up said, “Helping your manager makes you a greater asset and will make you more competitive for a promotion – managing up is a “help me help you” type of role, and it can certainly work in your favor.”

If you are focused on continuous improvement, the manager will be impressed by your dedication. They may welcome you taking on additional responsibility by showing yourself worthy to handle the increased workload. This distribution of responsibilities will give you insight into their job, which could be helpful as you move up the company ladder. The manager may be open to mentoring and offering career advice to help you navigate the competitive waters of your industry or organization.


  1. Compete with your manager – a victory is a defeat
  2. Make your manager look bad, incompetent, foolish or ridiculous
  3. Hang your manager out to dry by failing to keep them in the loop
  4. Embarrass the company and subsequently the manager
  5. Gossip, complain or speak ill of the manager to peers or others in management

There may be times when you may feel your boss is threatened by your presence and performance. You may catch the eye of senior leaders and your boss may feel you are the heir apparent to their job. This is a very delicate situation and you must do everything in your power to ensure that she can trust you and have your loyalty. Even if you are better than your boss in a certain area, do not rub their nose in it. Become a resource for your supervisor and use humility, offering your skill set for the benefit of the entire team. You must resist the temptation to go over their head, even when the senior leader gives you permission. Discuss this matter with your boss and ask for advice on how to handle. If you do not feel comfortable with this approach, consult your mentor or trusted advisor or alternative strategies.

Guard against setting up an adversarial relationship with your boss. A manager gained a reputation of being well-connected due to his many company relocations. This caused a problem with him and his director. The Director was the type who wanted to have access to all information. One day the manager mentioned in a meeting that he had copies of information the Director desired. The Director was furious and challenged him to disclose the person who sent him the files. When the manager surrendered the name, the Director replied, “So that’s your source of information in the Home Office.” The manager filled with ego, naively replied, “One of my sources of information.” When the words left his mouth, he said, he knew he had made a mistake. He worked from that instance to correct this error in judgment.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Next installment

Managing Up – Part 2

The Manager’s Perspective  

Due to be posted March 12, 2013

Do you have a leadership bias? Part 2


Individuals can be penalized when they are caught in the middle of a leadership bias. A truant officer ran a red light and slammed into the driver side of my Toyota automobile shortly after I graduated from college. He got out of the car and yelled at me. “Didn’t you see my flashing headlights and hear me honking my horn? I was astonished and replied, “No I did not. Where are your flashing headlights now?” I asked. “Well I turned them off just before impact” was his response. He told the witnesses in his car, who were two students on their way to school, to take the bus to school. A police officer arrived on the scene to investigate the accident. The truant officer relayed his side of the story and instantly bonded with the police. The police officer told a story about cars in traffic refusing to listen to his siren when he was involved in a recent emergency. He executed his leadership bias by giving me two moving violations; one ticket for damage to city property and the other for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle. The officer’s identification or leadership bias could have cost me money, but both tickets were thrown out in court. Incidentally, in court he told a story of weaving cautiously through traffic, stopping, looking both ways and slowly driving into traffic before I ignored his siren and flashing lights and hit him. Ironically, we were the only cars on the road.

There can be consequences and complications if the leadership bias is unchallenged. My truant officer’s boss screamed at him when he returned to the police station, but if it wasn’t for his boss and the judge, I would have paid a hefty price.

Our conversations about leadership are usually harmless, but the truth does support that all leaders are not focused on the noble traits of leadership. There are some who have brought down entire companies, as we know from the financial crisis in the last decade. Large corporations have been brought into our living rooms and offices because they have misled their shareholders and stakeholders. People who tried to alert the authorities were, intimidated, ridiculed, fired and their careers destroyed.

Leadership must be kept in check with appropriate oversight to ensure that it does not abuse its power. This is especially critical when evidence exists about intimidation and the reduction in results and effectiveness. There must be a level of transparency, trust and competence to ensure that laws are being followed and leaders are effectively doing their jobs. Turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to harassment, criminal behavior or incompetence could harm a large number of investors and innocent bystanders. An unbridled leadership bias could be detrimental to the careers and incomes of many people. It should not be allowed to exist without the necessary periodic reviews and updates.

We should acknowledge that a leadership bias could also manifest itself as someone totally against the actions of leaders. They believe all leaders are dishonest and should not be trusted.


The first step in addressing a leadership bias is awareness and assessment. One of the first rules of human behavior is that people like people like themselves.  We may be prone to favoritism and preference. If we periodically approach leaders with objectivity and openness we can catch problems before they develop into catastrophes.

Secondly, we should look at the data as objectively as our experience will allow. As leaders, we have a leadership lens which could contribute to our leadership bias. If we keep this in mind, we can minimize following blindly when we discuss the actions of leaders.

Thirdly, it is good to have a third-party involved where there are serious claims against those in power. The Human Resource Department is usually assigned the responsibility to make sure an organization is objective when a leader is under scrutiny. Another tactic is to maintain open dialogue with employees to gain their perspectives of leadership and to act on suggestions to show sincerity.

Because I have been exposed to excellent leaders who had integrity and professionalism, I am biased to the noble elements of leading. However, not all leaders are leading equally. Additionally, sometimes leaders make mistakes. We have to select and develop the best leaders so that our families, associations, communities, places of worship and organization flourish and use their people and resource to improve society and the world.  To that end we can in good conscience, give leaders the benefit of the doubt and our positive bias can be justified.

I am aware of my leadership bias. This awareness should allow me to be more objective and open to the positive and negative aspects of leadership. Do you have a leadership bias? Check yourself and act accordingly.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Do you have a leadership bias? Part 1

I confess. I have a leadership bias. This bias may be related to my leadership addiction. After many years of reflecting, soul-searching and validation, I can announce it to the world. I have an affinity for people who have gone through the crucible of similar experiences. They are comrades in arms, battle tested warriors from the same platoon; people who sacrificed and defended each other. In situations of doubt, where a decision has to be made, I defer to those in power, believing we share a common bond in the leadership struggle.

Recently, I sat in a restaurant and was asked about my vocation. I mentioned my years of leadership experience in the pharmaceutical industry. This initiated a spirited conversation about big corporations and big government. One patron believed that pharmaceutical companies were only out to make a quick dollar and were withholding the cures to cancers because we made more money on maintenance medicines. He felt that corporations and government were ruled by the profit motif and did not care about the average citizen.

I was mobilized into action. I went into full defense mode. I gave him data on drug discovery and limited patented coverage, generic drugs and the cost to bring a drug to market. I almost implied that he should feel guilty attacking the humanity of noble scientists who chose science to save lives and eradicate diseases. He reluctantly conceded to my argument with the caveat that my company may be different. As I reflected on my actions on the way home, I realized, I had firmly displayed a leadership bias.

I instinctively grant leaders the edge, the benefit of the doubt and presume their motives are admirable, even if I do not know them. It is important for me to learn about my leadership bias, its symptoms, consequences and potential complications and methods of treatment. These characteristics may be relevant in other areas of my life, as I live and breathe and interact with people.


I acquired a leadership bias as a side effect of years of exposure to good leadership. I have learned from phenomenal leaders. I was enthralled by their positive performances and magnanimous motives. This exposure left me predisposed to siding with leadership in many instances.

Additionally, I have been a manager for many years. There were numerous books, movies, training programs and on the job experiences. My leadership immersion conditioned me to the value of a vision, making fair decisions, developing people and leading a team. This exposure fine tuned my expertise and made me speak, dress and act as a leader. I felt a part of an association of leaders because we shared similar experiences. Subconsciously, I was filled with the desire to defend leadership, when challenged.  I am not naive. I have been in the presence of leaders who were not very good and were hostile to anyone who disputed or challenged their authority and I knew the difference. You can also identify your propensity to have a leadership bias based on your background.


You can easily identify the leadership bias, by our tendency to defend those in positions of power. This reminds me of episodes of the television show Colombo where the guilty party usually tried to explain the position of the criminal. They would find themselves going overboard defending a suspected criminal, while implicating themselves. This would eventually lead to their capture. Similar to these actors, people with the leadership bias, consistently give leaders the benefit of the doubt and ask for patience and understanding on their behalf.

A local news station was canvassing the city for people to interview during a heat spell. Commonwealth Edison the local electric supplier had instituted a policy of rolling black outs to manage their supply of electricity. My brother asked me to give the interview. I told the reporter that if the management of the electric company thought this was the best way to manage the power, we should defer to their expertise. I immediately took management’s position. I knew that in most situations leaders had access to more information. They could make better decisions because of this abundance of information. The reporter thanked me and told us to look for the interview on the 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock news.

The topic of Commonwealth Edison and energy shortage was the lead story. The station ran my comments about yielding to management’s assessment of using rolling blackouts to manage the supply of energy. My comments were followed by the mayor giving the opposite view blasting the energy company. I realized that I had been defending leadership for years.

As a middle manager I was challenged by my people about the decisions of upper management. I knew more about the decision-making process and some of the variables which led to the decision. But, I was often sworn to withhold some of the data because it was either sensitive to the stock market or we felt the competition would find out. I told my people that if they had more information they would understand the decision better. I would say the following, “Right now you have questions about the decision that was made. Trust me, if you knew more about the variable considered, we would look a lot more intelligent to you.” They would laugh and we would move on. Examine your past behavior for symptoms.  You may have displayed this tendency without realizing it.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Do you have a leadership bias? – Part 2 is scheduled for Monday, February 4, 2013

Perform or perish – Part 1

I interviewed with a manager from a medium size pharmaceutical company. The DM spoke of sales success as a ruthless priority. There was an intolerance of mediocrity. If your performance was “subpar and under the bar” you were in trouble. He looked at me intently and uttered that familiar phrase, around here, “Money talks and BS walks.”  I had heard the phrase many times before and being quick on my feet, I responded, “What’s the use, if you don’t produce.” I wanted him to know I could swim in shark infested waters and that I was the person for the job.

In research circles and the halls of academia, researchers and professors are told to publish or perish. In sales and marketing organizations all over the world, a variation of this battle cry can be heard. We are in a constant struggle to prove our value by selling our products and services and competing for our jobs. We “fight extinction with distinction.” Our existence or extinction is governed by our ability to meet or exceed the demands of the marketplace. If we are to be successful, we must accept the ultimatum to perform or perish.

Many companies are in a reduction mode; reducing the size of sales forces and other resources. Some good representatives are displaced in the process, but an effort is made to keep the top performers. Territory performance is evaluated and the under performing ones are eliminated, left vacant or absorbed into adjacent geographies. It is imperative to understand how performance is measured, exceed expectations and ensure that management is aware of your full contributions to the bottom line.

How is performance measured?

Everyone should understand how performance is measured in their organization. Sales teams rely heavily on objective factors such as, market share growth, new customers, satisfied clients, new prescriptions, total prescriptions, customer satisfaction or engagement scores, pieces sold, number of calls made, customer conversions and documents or people processed. There may also be subjective factors such as, behavioral traits, competencies or success factors which represent how the employee achieved their goals. 

Performance is captured and referenced in performance reviews, (formally once or twice a year) and coaching discussions on work days and other interactions with the manager. Frequent performance discussions against objectives will eliminate surprises at the end of the year and ensure that the latest document accurately reflects your results. You may want to initiate these fireside chats if your manager does not do this routinely.

Understand the evaluation system

Many companies will force rank their employees based on their overall performance. If there are 10 people in a District, they are ranked from 1 – 10, with the top representative occupying the #1 position. This process is helpful in distributing performance ratings, merit increases and incentive compensation. This process may also be used to determine the lower 10% of performers. Some companies will remove the lower performers if they are at the bottom of the list two years in a row.

Companies may categorize employees as A, B or C players. Thomas DeLong and Vineeta Vijayaraghaven in their Harvard Business Review article defined A, B and C players as follows:

A’s are star performers. They are employees who put their professional lives ahead of their families and personal lives because they are striving to accomplish more or move upward in the organization. They are the risk-takers, the “high potentials,” and employers enjoy finding and hiring them. They are also the players most likely to leave the organization for opportunities elsewhere.

B’s are competent, steady performers who balance their work and personal lives while still doing the bulk of the work of the company. They tend to stay put, don’t require a lot of attention, and they get the job done. Because they stay, they tend to carry the corporate history with them.

C’s are performers who are not achieving enough to satisfy their employers and are most likely to be asked to move along.” In hard times Companies try to keep their A & B performers.

There are other variables in assessing your performance and that includes comparing it to your peers who may work for other managers. Calibration is a process used to discuss employees in an effort to measure employees against their peers. There are some managers who are hard on their people and therefore distribute lower ratings and incentive payouts, but they have stuff standards. Other managers have been known to be easy on their people and rate them higher and reward them with higher incentives whether they earned them or not. To even the playing field a process of calibration was established. This is considered a more equitable system because it allows managers to discuss their ratings with the peers. In this scenario people of comparable performance are compared to ensure equity in the system.

Managers are challenged to evaluate performance in a pay for performance environment. Force ranking and calibrating are ways to ensure that people are reviewed, rated, rewarded and retained based on their performance. Your objective is to ensure that you are viewed near the top of the pack, as an A or B player which is validated by the calibration process. No system is perfect, but assessment is here to stay and necessary to provide data for promotions and when tough personnel decisions, such as staff reductions have to be made.

Tooting your own horn

In Philosophy 101 the professor asked, “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? In business if you are making a contribution, you want the world to know about it.

There is a feeling in our culture that you should not toot your own horn, let others do it for you. We label those that do, arrogant and braggarts. Ironically, some of these individuals get promoted, because management has a better assessment of their ability. We may become disillusioned and accuse management of favoritism.

Copyright © 2009 Orlando Ceaser

Perish or Perform – Part 2 on December 3, 2012

8 Ways to Rebound and Get the Next Job

You were just given the news.  The boss called you into their office or you received a telephone call.  Someone else was given the job you wanted. How will you handle the disappointment?

Much has been written about getting the right job.  There are books, seminars and counselors who specialize in helping you attain the job of your dreams. This article will focus on what to do immediately after the event.  

Your reaction to bad news may surprise you, especially if you did not consider not getting the job.  This became clear in our Presidential elections. The objective is to prepare for getting the job, but you should have a Plan B or Plan C, just in case the unthinkable happens.

It is important to anticipate bad news and respond with professionalism.  How you respond may put you in a better position to land the next job.  Many times the way you handle disappointment will demonstrate your character and impress someone enough to keep you in mind for another assignment.

1.    Ask for specific feedback

If you are to be more competitive in the next interview you need constructive feedback. This feedback should be able to be converted into goals.  Ask for more tangible feedback than, “You did a good job.” “Just hang in there” and “Something will come your way, it is a matter of time.” 

Many people are reluctant to give solid feedback because they are afraid of being sued or causing ill will by hurting someone’s feelings.  They do a grave disservice to the applicant if they have specific information and decide not to give it.  Additionally, some people may not have developed the expertise to give quality feedback. You will have to press them for specifics and guide them by asking for feedback is specific areas with specific examples.  

2.    Be open to the truth

If you ask a question you must be able to live with the answer.  Feedback that is factual and delivered in a truthful and caring manner is invaluable to your growth and development.  Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men hurls the phrase while under cross-examination that “you can’t handle the truth.”  This must not apply to you.  Self-examination and honest introspection may help you anticipate the words of the interviewer.  Sincere feedback must be accepted graciously and implemented.  It must not be viewed as vicious criticism given in a defensive environment.

3.    Search for reasons you can control

Be careful not to rush to or land on a reason that you can’t control.  There is nothing worse than being denied a job and feeling helpless to improve your chances.  Be patient and don’t rush to play the age card, race card or the gender card or any other card that you can’t change.  If you are denied a job because of discrimination you have a right to pursue legal recourse, but let’s not rush to that assumption when there are other reasons that may preclude you from getting the job. 

4.    Be open to growth assignments

Do not be so narrow in your perspectives that you eliminate other assignments that could strengthen your portfolio and therefore your chances of getting your desired job.  Oftentimes, companies may not want to take a risk on a candidate, but if that person has a breadth of experience in other jobs, it minimizes the risk.  Another advantage of additional assignments is that they increase your knowledge of the company and increases the number of people who can validate the quality of your work.

Analyze other assignments not from the viewpoint of can you do them, but what can they do for your future.  It may be just the job you need to convince management that you have what it takes to get the job you want. 

5.    Increase your contacts through networking

People rise in their careers in part, due to the number of people familiar with my work.  In many conference rooms across the nation succession planning committees gather to determine who will move up the corporate ladder.  The more votes you have around the table, the better your chances for advancement.  Contacts made at company functions or industry meetings may be invaluable.  Inter – departmental teams are an excellent place to volunteer because in today’s matrix organization you need to learn to work with others who may not be reporting to you.  There are networking events on social media sites and organizations you can join to help you meet people who may become helpful in your career. 

6.    Don’t make impulsive decisions and burn bridges

Control your emotions.  Don’t make a hasty decision to quit or say something destructive. You must thoroughly analyze your situation.  There is an abundance of quality talent on the open market. As with any relationship, take the time to reflect on what transpired. 

A rash decision may hamper career development.  If it doesn’t work out, rather than stay to work on their skills, people leave and go to another company.  They may get more money, which makes their decision look good.  However, if there is any area needing improvement, it really should be addressed as soon as possible or it will come back to haunt them, as history repeats itself.

The worst time to look for a job is when you are upset. Your judgment may be impaired.  You may strike out with an I-will-show-them attitude and not evaluate all of the particulars of the new offer.  As in a relationship, you should not evaluate options when you are angry or disappointed.  You do not want to look back regretting an employment decision made without the benefit of a reasonable cooling-off period.

The corporate world is shrinking.  One cannot afford to leave under bad conditions, because the bad blood shown to an employer can come back to haunt you. 

7.   Accept losing to a better candidate

Sometimes the level of competition is so steep that management is in the enviable position of having more talent than it can use.  This is no consolation for someone who has worked hard for the job, but it is a fact of life.  The timing may not have been right or someone had a better relationship with the decision maker, which served as the tiebreaker.  There is also the possibility that you had a bad interview.  An interview is like an audition.  Academy Award winners and those possessing a Tony Award for the stage have lost out on key roles because they had a bad audition.  You may do your best and still not get the job.  The important take away is that you did your best.  It is important to accumulate a variety of experiences and interests, because you never know what will be the tiebreaker in intense interviewing scenarios. You will be the better candidate in the next round of interviews. 

8.    Model the right behavior

Your employer is not the only person observing your behavior.  Colleagues and others within the organization will want to know how you handle the pressure of not gaining an assignment.  This is a perfect opportunity to model the characteristics of a team player and someone patiently awaiting an opportunity by striving to improve every aspect of their performance – a model not a martyr.  If you are persistently passed over with little or no feedback or receive insincere contradictory commentary, you may have to make a decision to go where they may appreciate your talents.

Accepting bad news is never easy.  We don’t like rejection.  This fact is wired into our genes.  There are factors in acquiring a job that may be beyond your control and the timing may not be right.  You should, however, do everything within your power to ensure that you are ready for interviews, from the standpoint of skills and experience.  If you do not get the job, the answer may not be “no,” it may be read as “not now.”  The moments immediately after this discovery may lead you toward landing the job that you really want.

Copyright © 2012 Orlando Ceaser

5 Symptoms your Employer is Cheating on you or Thinking about it

There are symptoms that point to an employee losing favor in the eyes of an employer. If you are paying attention, the breadcrumbs will lead you back to their original intentions. Also, as in any relationship, the people around are the first to see the symptoms that something is wrong.

We are creatures of habit and have a tendency to emit clues. You should always look for feedback and indicators on how well you are performing on the job and be able to spot the precise moment when things are drifting off course. If you are quick to respond, you may be able to up your game through an intervention. For example you may get training in an area to increase a particular skill. Or if the case is hopeless, engineer a soft landing where you can land on your feet in a better situation.

There are instances where organization indicates they are looking for someone else as a temporary or permanent replacement. You must be aware of these symptoms to protect yourself. You may have to lash out in self defense if your stability is threatened. There are at least 5 symptoms to indicate there is trouble in paradise. Your employer is either cheating on your or thinking about it.

1.    Interviewing your replacement

They bring someone from the outside as a consultant and ask you to train them. This is innocent enough until you find out they are gunning for your job. You train them, but realize they are looking at your strengths and weaknesses and may be taking them back to your boss. You ask the right questions, but there is not a lot of transparency around the person’s next job and why they were hired in the first place. Your co-workers give you their point of view which is to essentially watch your back.

Eventually, you decide the company is grooming your replacement behind your back, not as part of transparency associated with succession planning. You have to decide what to do which means to gain insight into how you are perceived within the organization and think of an alternative route outside of the company. You cannot afford to be career naive when it is true, other people want your job.

2.    Broken Promises

Your boss promised you a position and gave you extra work to prepare you for the transition to the new role. This causes you to get your hopes up high and work harder. What is unknown to you is they have no plans to give you the assignment. They brought in someone, whom you find out through the grapevine was promised the same job. How do you respond? It is a delicate situation. Should you confront your boss about the rumors or the grapevine laden conspiracy? It is appropriate to ask for a meeting to ask about your performance and if you are on course to assume the promised assignment. There response will determine your next move. I believe in expecting the best, yet preparing for the worst. This mindset will enable you to be very professional if things don’t go your way.

3.    Change their disposition toward you

You begin to detect a change in your bosses’ reaction to you. For some reason they become aloof and unavailable. You internalize the reaction and wonder what you have done wrong. You instantly think it is work related and begin to work harder and longer hours, but there is no change. You want to ask if you have done something wrong, but it may not be you.  Promotional decisions are sometimes changed by Upper Management. If your boss promised you the job, but headquarters or his boss thinks it should go to someone else, they are between a rock and a hard place. A true leader will sit down and talk to you, but their hands may be tied. Some leaders will tell you that the decision is no longer in their hands and leave it at that. A transparent leader may say, this particular job is off the table, but they will work with you on the next available position.

If your supervisor told you the whole story, you may confront his manager and put your boss in jeopardy. Many managers will dodge their responsibility by finding fault in your performance.

  • Suddenly you can’t do anything right. The amount of critiques escalate, even when you do things the way they taught you to do them
  • Reduction in your rating without warning – you need to improve, but they can’t tell you how or why… They will know it when they see it is their response

4.    Unprecedented candor

Some Managers have a reputation for not providing feedback until or unless something is wrong with your performance. There is a raging debate in managerial sectors about the level of transparency around career upward mobility.  Some would prefer to hold back information that indicates that you have reached your peak and have gone as far as you can ascend in the organization. One reason for reluctance is the subjective nature of many of these opinions. Management could change and the new manager may see untapped potential, so they are reluctant to give the definitive word on your career possibilities. However, if your manager would like to replace you with a newer or a different model they will not hold back. They will:

  • Let you know that the promotion or position you aspire to will not be given to you in the future.
  • You are told you have gone as far as you can go and if you want to stay at your current level the job is yours
  • They may suggest that you are safe for now, but at some point they may decide you are blocking a position which could be a primary training ground for another upwardly mobile employee

You know when someone has made up their mind about you, but they will not tell you the truth. They hope you will quit, thereby making it easy on them. They try to make it hard on you so it is difficult for you to stay. You have to keep your performance fresh and in shape through continuous improvement and exercising your mind.

5.    Rewriting your job description

A common means to displace or replace an employee that a company wants to leave or take out of contention for a key role is to rewrite their job description. This new and improved job description contains education requirements, experiences and duties that you do not currently perform. They tell you they are upgrading the job to attract better talent in the future when the job becomes vacant. Sometimes they ask you to start writing the job description if one is not currently on file. Once the job description is rewritten the company may announce a downsizing and the new job description will be the basis for the interviews. You find yourself in a position where you are interviewing for your job. They bring in candidates from the outside whose experiences and education match the new standard. 

It is imperative in this competitive marketplace to always strive for excellence and elevating your performance. You may be in style today, but it is imperative for you to keep up with the knowledge and technological skills necessary to compete. It is reasonable for a company to want the best employee for their jobs. As long as you are growing, your familiarity, intellectual knowledge and intellectual property should give you the inside track. However, you must be observant in case you run into these 5 symptoms which is indicative that your employer is bored, has a wandering eye and is looking around and holding auditions for your replacement. 

Copyright ©2012 Orlando Ceaser