Friday, March 20, 2009

Qualified Enough to Train Other Workers, But Not To Get The Promotion

One of the most common complaints I’ve heard from Black workers, over the years, is that they’ve felt used and abused by companies that requested (read: forced) them to train White coworkers, who eventually were promoted to a higher level position than the Black person that taught them everything that made them valuable.

How many of us haven’t been put in the position where we were asked to train a White counterpart, to train a White person that was junior to us or even to train a White person with a more advanced degree than we possessed? And, how often did the White person you train end up getting a promotion that you weren’t even considered for? Or, maybe they got a substantial raise based on their newly acquired skills.

It’s one of the oldest workplace racism games in the book…marginalize and overlook Black workers until an up-and-coming White employee of the day needs a few more skills to justify a preconceived plan to advance them through the ranks of the company.

Nothing hurts more than seeing someone else rewarded for your skills and knowledge. Nothing…EXCEPT… receiving a poor performance evaluation and STILL being asked to train White coworkers.

Years ago, I received a fraudulent performance evaluation from a White manager who wasn’t even my direct supervisor. I never worked with this man and I barely interacted with him. YET, he threw out my supervisor’s performance evaluation for me and submitted his own—completely trashing my work performance and the quality of my finished products. He recommended I only receive a $200 yearly increase because my performance was “horrible.” He said that he considered not giving me an increase at all.

BUT, he turned around and asked me to train two White new hires. And, he wanted me to create procedures for everything I did. I looked at this fool and said, “Absolutely not!” He turned red. I didn’t care. I asked him, after the horrible performance review that HE had just submitted for me, if it was appropriate that I pass along my poor work habits and other issues to new staff. I also asked him why I, who he stated really didn’t know what I was doing, would possibly write procedures. Clearly, I didn’t know any procedures. If I did, I would have been far more successful at completing my work—which he said I wasn’t. I told him I would not be comfortable training anyone under those circumstances. I suggested he find someone, with skills he approved of, to train the new hires. Well, HE WAS TRAPPED. After a recent resignation, no one else in the company performed the job function that I was doing.

Long story short, he rewrote and resubmitted my performance evaluation. And, he gave me a significant increase. There was never an issue with my work. It was just the oldest game in the book…marginalize and overlook a Black person and use them to build up the skills of White underlings.

I’m at the point in my career where I refuse to be used. It’s one thing to be a team player and it’s another to set yourself to be passed over. If you are asked to train individuals…ask to be officially referred to as a mentor or trainer. Make sure any training you do is included in your reviews. If you have to write a self-assessment during your performance period, list every staff person you trained and what you taught them.

And, if you are being asked to train what you feel is going to be your replacement (I know you know that trick), simply refuse to do so. If you’ve been given negative feedback, as happened to me, talk to your manager. Tell them that you feel you are receiving mixed signals and you would like to know where you stand. Get a formal declaration of any intent to replace you or not. It doesn’t mean the company can’t fire you, but if they’ve stated your job was secure—and then fired you—it provides you with more ammunition to use in a potential case.

Remember, if an employer is having problems with an employee, the employer is supposed to make the employee aware of the issues, state possible remedies (such as training, etc.), and put the employee on a verbal or written warning or on probation. Unless you’ve committed some outlandish action, you are supposed to be given the opportunity to change your behavior and to keep your job.

When it comes to training, also try to figure out what’s going on. If the person you are being asked to train is in line to compete with you for promotions, don’t train them (if you can get out of it) and NEVER teach them everything you know (if you can’t)!!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Delaware Job Hunters said...

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2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article describes my experience at my previous job to a tee! For the last 4 of the 6 1/2 years at this previous job, I was repeatedly being made to train new (white) employees who, as soon as I fully trained them, they were moved to another area to learn new skills. This put them in a better position to receive raises. The more the skills, the better the chance to get a raise--which they did eventually receive! Despite many conferences with my supervisor--and her supervisor (both of whom were white) I still never received a raise.
This "good ole boy" attitude existed throughout the organization of my former job.
So, I made plans to leave this job by working part-time at night at another job. Thankfully, after a year, the part-time job turned into a full-time job WITH HIGHER PAY. I was able to quit the job in which I had been turned into an "employee-training slave." The bonus in the new job is that I do not have to constantly train new employees anymore and it is actually less work and far less stress! In a way, I felt like I had won by beating them at their own game!

Sometimes you have to leave and go to a new job to prove your point. I knew I was a very valuable employee with the knowledge and skills I had gained. After I left, former co-workers that I kept in touch with said they (the management)really felt the "crunch" of my departure as the workload also began to backlog.
As you stated quite well in the article (and I have now adopted as my motto):
"I'm at a point in my career where I refuse to be used."

Thank you for the great article!

1:19 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Man,

I understand this completely, but I believe I have dealt with the worse racism ever.

I work for this company which at first seemed to be nice. They gave me a responsibility to do which was tough. Not only did I achieved the responsibility, I exceeded it. I am what you would call a ambitious employee. My first supervisor saw this, so began to limit my ability to achieve more in the company. She even forced me to leave work at my scheduled time while the other employees were given ample time to do extra work.

In order to exceed more of my work I requested a laptop, she told me in a meeting that she was afraid it would be stolen so I was the only one not given a laptop in the department. The department eventually evolved where I was added to the "sub" category of it and future employees in this department wasn't allow to have laptops.

In order to meet increasing needs, instead of giving me needed resources, they decided to hire other employees. After through going through several(some being lazy)I finally found a good person that would listen to my methods of doing work. We worked very well together to the point where my responsibilities were completed 100% everyday. I have been here close to 4 years at that point yet never received an promotion, although every other employee have in the firm. I knew that I would at least receive a promotion for my achievement.

Turns out, at the very last minute, I was pulled in the office, being told (on Friday) that Monday they are hiring someone new in the firm and I am to report to this person. I thought, well maybe this person have some serious experience, but after reviewing that person's resume, it was not applicable to our job in any way. Not only that, it was my responsibility to train that person fully to do their job.

Everything I had worked for to achieve was given to someone else. I had always positioned myself to not believe that racism still exist, but I have never experienced such racism at this level, yet I feel helpless in dealing with this. This racism is far worse than being called a "nigger" in my face.

I wish there was something that could be done about this, as I feel if I reported this, I will get no results.

1:16 PM  

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