Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Building Blocks Of a Promotion...

A friend of mine (Black) was a manager at our company. She went from having a diverse department of subordinates to being placed in a position where she only supervised Black junior level staff. This was not of her doing. The director of her department and our Human Resources manager simply began to make personnel decisions that resulted in all of the staff in this support division being African American.

Regardless of the racial makeup of her staff, this manager always pushed her subordinates to learn new skills and to increase their knowledge about their jobs. She conducted lunch-time trainings, brought in other staff to conduct informal trainings, and passed on information about other training opportunities. Whenever possible, she ensured that her subordinates performed some work that was typical of the work being performed in positions that were one grade higher than her subordinates.

By doing so, she took away the argument that her staff had not shown they were capable of performing higher levels of work and she made her staff more competitive for future promotion opportunities by improving their knowledge and skill sets.

Her approach to managing her staff wasn’t appreciated by our employers. In fact, during conversations about her encouraging staff to look into opportunities to advance, this Black manager was told, “You know, some people like to be in the same job for 20 years.” She was also told that she shouldn’t “push” her Black subordinates to want to excel or move up within the ranks of their department. Finally, she was told that the only reason these Black workers had any thoughts about being promoted was because she was putting the idea in their heads.

This manager was told to back off of encouraging her staff to excel and advance.

The manager’s response was that she would be negligent in her job as a manager if she didn’t train her staff, didn’t expose them to more advanced work, didn’t help them improve their knowledge of their job and field, and didn’t encourage them to seek advancement opportunities.

Although she was told that the ideas her subordinates had about promotions weren’t her problem, the legal decision in Bryson vs. Chicago State University supports her management style and the encouragement she provided her employees. The 1996 decision of the 7th Circuit court specifically reasoned:

“Depriving someone of the building blocks for…a promotion…is just as serious as depriving her of the job itself.”

If you are working in a job where you aren’t being provided with the basics that would lead to a promotion, you can legitimately raise serious concerns about the lack of opportunities and training at your job.

Don’t be afraid to express your desire to learn more about your job and to seek out future advancement opportunities. More employees than not want exactly the same thing—to be promoted, to receive significant pay raises, and to have a livelihood that their families can depend on.

If you are not getting access to those building blocks, speak to your supervisor and/or manager and let it be known that you have a desire to learn more. State that you would like to know about in-house and outside training opportunities and that you would like more exposure to different skills sets within your position. If you are not given reasonable answers regarding obtaining these basic building blocks, you should consider speaking to another authority within your department or to an HR representation.

It’s your career, so you should be proactive if you aren’t seeing the opportunities you want and are entitled to at work. Show initiative and find out what you need to do to get to the next levels of your career path. You are entitled to desire success! And, you are entitled to the workplace building blocks that will help you succeed.


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