Mixed Emotions and the Invisibles

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Every promotion at work creates a rift in the space time continuum of the place (or a disturbance in the force if you prefer a Star Wars analogy over a Star Trek one).  In some cases, the person being promoted is well liked and well respected and everyone has had positive dealings with them so the promotion creates just small ripples in the work pool.  Sometimes the opposite is true.   There is nothing like the torrent of emotions that come forward when someone who is viewed as not deserving gets a big promotion.

In this particular case, the person worked for me many long years ago but had bounced to a few other jobs.  This particular move though is a couple of rungs up the ladder and into an area where they haven’t had much experience.  Plus, he hasn’t won many friends among the people I work with because of his communication style (or lack thereof).

To be fair, his position requires interacting with lots of different departments with each department potentially needing a slightly different thing.  So we just see the one side of him.  Perhaps his other sides shine brighter.  Plus, you never know what a hiring manager is looking for and what skills and experiences they will value or what particular interview answers resonate.

In cases like this, where there isn’t a strong pull, I can generally see both sides of the coin.  With his track record and what I know about him, the hiring is a bit of a shock.  On the other hand, as a person, I like him just fine and certainly have no problems with him getting ahead in life.  So I sent him a little message of congratulations (to which he gave me a nice response).  But it also didn’t stop me from listening to those who wanted to vent.  If I was stronger, I might have shut that down but then again I could fully understand why they were shocked and what they were saying were honest assessments of their dealings with him.  Based on that, they were clearly shocked and perhaps a bit upset about the hire and those feeling were valid so it didn’t seem right to shut them down.

Maybe I should have taken a stand but I didn’t have any real strong feelings either way so why not give people an opportunity to vent?  Maybe the congratulatory note was my atonement for participating.  It is just a little weird because I am genuinely happy for him even though I don’t understand how he was hired for the position.

In all cases, there was no jealousy in what I heard although that can be common.  For me, I made the choice a long time ago that climbing the career ladder was not right for me.  My boss asked me about being on her succession plan and I said I wasn’t interested in her position.  I kind of learned the hard way about what happens when you allow work to run your life because back then I was over 100 pounds overweight, had high blood pressure and was not a very happy person.  Now, I realize that the company doesn’t own me.  They rent me during the day and they get a lot out of me but I have to be more than just what I do.  My boss spends a lot of time on the road and she’s in meetings most days so she deals with emails and other things at night or on the weekends.  Sorry, but that has no appeal to me.   If that’s what he wants to do, then more power to him.

Probably the only negative emotion that runs through me in situations like this is the feeling of being taken for granted.  Like most large companies, we don’t always do a very good job of recognizing people (as a boss, I’m certainly guilty of that as well).   So it seems that the only time someone is recognized is when they are promoted or when they retire.  Then, someone sends out a message about all the things they’ve done (in this case, they shaded the truth a bit) and leaves you with the impression that this person is invaluable.  And that just feeds into the mentality that exists at a lot of places that you need to move up the ladder or you are a failure.

I’ve read a synopsis of a book that was about those invisible types who aren’t in to aggressive self promotion.  They do great things but don’t find any need to tell anyone about what they’ve done.  The satisfaction is just in doing your job to the fullest without an expectation of a payoff.  Of course, I’d say many all secretly hope someone is watching and they probably wouldn’t mind hearing good things every once in awhile.  It shouldn’t take someone leaving a position for the boss to talk about all the great things they’ve done.  But that’s they way it is.

OK, I kind of got off topic a bit.  I don’t really like talking about work that much but sometimes it just shoves its way into my thoughts and I have to take some time to sort them all out.



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