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Can somebody help me make sense of this situation?

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Can somebody help me make sense of this situation?

Postby Bright B. » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:54 pm

I joined a company about 3 years ago. Before I accepted the job offer, I tried to negotiate but they were very firm on their offer. They gave me a bonus and relocation on condition that I stay at least 2 years if not I will have to reimburse the relocation.
1. After joining the company, they realized that I'm a high performer. Not much of training but I usually take things and just do it. My boss and her boss were amazed.
2. They started asking when I'm going to buy a house. Well it is a high cost living area and I don't want to buy a rundown house. So, I'm saving but my response has always been “I’m working on it”.
3. Over the course of the last 2-3 years responsibilities increased tremendously. I have 3 peers that are not PhDs and much older than me. One of them, my boss will not lift a finger no matter what he does. She says, she relies on him for knowing all the processes (They started at the same time). The funny thing is, he comes to me when my boss asks something.
4. I managed a couple global projects and successfully help the company register some products. All this without any substantial increase in salary. Just the yearly COLA.
5. This year I approach my boss about an increase in salary and she is giving me the "I'm working on it".
6. I also ask for support to take a class, so I can take a certification. She said, she doesn't want me to because If I do it, her boss will ask her to do it.
7. A couple months ago, there is a need for our team to take a training, so we can understand how to run some tools necessary for our work. My boss told me that 5 days course is too much, and we need to find a one-day course (does not make any sense since you can’t learn the tools and science behind it in one day)
8. I’m continuously asked when I’m going to buy a house.
I’m not sure what to make out of this situation. Is my boss afraid of me in some capacities? Afraid that I’m going to leave? Or do I just have a bad boss?
Bright B.
 
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Re: Can somebody help me make sense of this situation?

Postby D.X. » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:34 am

Hi Bright,

Alot of things going on there and thus alot of speculation in my answer. Ultimately you need to look inward and come to your conclusions and subsequent actions.

First, your boss, by the behavior you describe of her, she seems not so interested in your training and potentially development. You describe yourself as a performer.

You have to judge your situatuion but in-general, this starts to happen when the boss does not consider you a flight-risk, feels your suffciently satisfied and is blinded to what your needs may be. The boss themselves may have no ambition rather to deliver on their objectives which can be linked to high-work load, and thus fear of out-of-office time. They may be inwardly focused. They may not be going anywhere and you have to assess if there is truth in that, I worry when I encouter a boss that has been in the same position for a time.

Second this may be leading a disconnected view on what your motivations and reward drivers are. i.e. training and recognition of work in the form of increased compensation. Again fueled by a potential belief that you're going no-where, externally that is, for a variety of reasons.

Your boss is NOT afraid of you in any capacity from what you describe. No boss is EVER afraid of their subordinates..why would they? Some thing I learned in my first company..never forget pecking order. I never understood those who had that view. Your boss is afraid of nothing other than potentially not delivering their objectives (which are your objectives) and certainly your boss is NOT afraid of losing you by the behavior you describe.

The questioning around the house is something i've encountered before - it links to a form of signaling for stability, it's a signal that you're putting your roots down and you're not going anywhere. (are you in a location with not many other company's around?) Say you buy a house and tell, that may seal the view of the boss that you ain't going no-where and that you'll be there for the next 7 to 10 years in the same role, delivering as expected. Which is probably what your boss wants, because maybe the plan on being in the same role for the long-term too (bad move in my view, never every plan on being anywhere for a long time).

The reality is whether you buy a house or any other aspect of your personal life is nobody's business...that's the theory at least, but you're seeing some real-world behaviors and perceptions out there that few talk about right?

I recommend you reflect on what it is you want and contextualize your situation. I generally look at domains such as team environment, development opportunities, quality of life, and compensation and see how I feel about those items in terms of current satisfaction and reasonable opporunity to acheive balance in all of those domains.

If I find I can't realize balance across those domains based on my current situation and realistic assessment of energy and effort required to achieve - linked to my personal happiness, then well the only conclusion is to seek external opportunities.

Welcome to the industry - you put yourself first right? Always.

Best,

DX
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Re: Can somebody help me make sense of this situation?

Postby Ana » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:19 am

Hi Bright,

There are two things in your message: what you think about your work, and what your boss thinks about you.

What you are describing is that you are performing a job (in ability and responsibilities) above your pay, and there are no clear efforts that you are seeing for others to fix that. You are also noticing signals that your n+1 and n+2 are concerned about you leaving, which means that they are very aware that you are not getting a fair deal at the company AND are not willing or able to offer you one.

So at this point I wouldn’t worry too much about what your boss and her boss think. What do you think? How long do you want to stay at this company?

DX, I don’t fully agree with “No boss is EVER afraid of their subordinates”. I have seen bosses that are concerned about their own performance, and having a start employee under them will feel their job feel threatened. Not because someone higher up will give you your boss position, but because s/he will be more exposed as a poor performer by comparison to the star employee. It does happen. It does become personal when the person that reports to you is very good if you are not secure enough. A boss like that will stop your career growth.

So, Bright, you don’t seem to be getting what you want out of your position. What is your Plan B?

Ana
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Re: Can somebody help me make sense of this situation?

Postby D.X. » Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:15 am

Ana wrote:
DX, I don’t fully agree with “No boss is EVER afraid of their subordinates”. I have seen bosses that are concerned about their own performance, and having a start employee under them will feel their job feel threatened. Not because someone higher up will give you your boss position, but because s/he will be more exposed as a poor performer by comparison to the star employee. It does happen. It does become personal when the person that reports to you is very good if you are not secure enough. A boss like that will stop your career growth.

Ana


Hi Ana,

Personally I have not seeing such senario manifest in a boss having fear of their subordinates in the context of a high performer employee and a low performer boss - contrast what I have seen is the lower performing boss is either on the way out, i.e. they have been told to go, or about to go, or disconnected and searching for thier next role, or trying to protech themselves politically via the blame game.

And that goes back to my point of the boss becoming in-wardly focused. The star-performer in this senario will go anyways be it via thier internal networking or via external job search and opportunity.

If things are not going well, in-terms of a poor exit or no exit strategy, to risk mitigate or say save thier own butts, then the one behavior i have seen alot is the pass blame game to their subordinates - not because they are threatened, but because they can. I've see this too - these I call the corporate cowards, because of thier hiarachy they can use political standing to "mob" or disparge members their own team - rare, but I've seen it and I've see these cowards win too.

The employee will leave (smartly) - they have a bona-fide record of performance documented in the HR systems but due to politics, the remaining poor performing boss will re-write the history of that employee in the company to make them seem incopetent adn make them seem better..as a tactic to hide or minimize their own failings. I've seen this a couple times - not frequent - but it happens.

And back to root cause, is not fear, its probably self-protection and inwardness. Just to qualify, this is rare. It happens, but its not the normal.

Just always have a Plan B, is my recommendation - doesn't matter if one is a high performer. In industry you can be hero one day, and zero the next (usually linked to change in political landscape, i.e. reorg, M&A,etc). And I'll throw it out there but High performers....always have an exit plan (mainly via networking).

DX
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Re: Can somebody help me make sense of this situation?

Postby Bright B. » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:11 am

@ DX - Thank you for your answer

A boss might not afraid of his/her employees but may be worried you will surpass them and get better position than them. I was once told that: " You are too junior for that" but I have been working in that capacity for about a year. And this is from a senior director I was reporting to. This was my first job out of grad school. After 3 months I got another job because my position at the time was not defined.
He was probably afraid, I will move up the small company quickly due to the facts that I was finishing projects accurately and quickly and the CEO knew about it.

My current boss is not going anywhere. She said so herself. And her behavior is: " I don't want to learn anything new". I just want to manage. My understanding is, when you stop learning you become irrelevant.

Stability and staying at the same position for 7 - 10 years? Who does that nowadays? I believe 5 years is the most if there is no promotion potential!!! Stay too long and you loose over the long term.

I'm not even sure why everybody wants to know why I don't have a house yet. There are a lot of companies in my area, from CRO, pharma, biotech, med devices to chemicals that at least 70% of my skills can translate to. Corporate behavior is kind of weird...
Bright B.
 
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Re: Can somebody help me make sense of this situation?

Postby Bright B. » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:29 am

Ana wrote:
So at this point I wouldn’t worry too much about what your boss and her boss think. What do you think? How long do you want to stay at this company?

So, Bright, you don’t seem to be getting what you want out of your position. What is your Plan B?

Ana


@ Ana
Thanks for your answer. You might be right overall. Her boss thinks I'm great and an excellent performer. I worked with him on a couple projects and he really liked the outcome. He mentioned to her a couple time that: " why everybody on you team be like Bright?" And she told me this!!! He introduced me to the vice president and the CEO, all this in front of my boss.

As for a plan, I have been networking hardcore. I think my next move should not be a lateral but a step or two up. In my current field it is a requirement that you have a least 5 years of experience before you become a manager and above. I think I will hang in here for one more year and then move out to move up somewhere else. My current job is very varied and banking on that for the next step is possible. I used to not respond to recruiters but I started to do it and give them my reuirements.
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Re: Can somebody help me make sense of this situation?

Postby D.X. » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:24 am

Bright B. wrote:@ DX - Thank you for your answer

A boss might not afraid of his/her employees but may be worried you will surpass them and get better position than them. I was once told that: " You are too junior for that" but I have been working in that capacity for about a year. And this is from a senior director I was reporting to. This was my first job out of grad school. After 3 months I got another job because my position at the time was not defined.
He was probably afraid, I will move up the small company quickly due to the facts that I was finishing projects accurately and quickly and the CEO knew about it.

My current boss is not going anywhere. She said so herself. And her behavior is: " I don't want to learn anything new". I just want to manage. My understanding is, when you stop learning you become irrelevant.

Stability and staying at the same position for 7 - 10 years? Who does that nowadays? I believe 5 years is the most if there is no promotion potential!!! Stay too long and you loose over the long term.

I'm not even sure why everybody wants to know why I don't have a house yet. There are a lot of companies in my area, from CRO, pharma, biotech, med devices to chemicals that at least 70% of my skills can translate to. Corporate behavior is kind of weird...


Hi Bright,

Given as you describe, that there are a number of other company's around, then I would not read into the question of buying a house. If it was that there were few or your company was the only one in the area then that question could be of relevance. I would take it as just conversation - people at an certain age and stage settle down and consider property acquistion. Could be cultural, not sure if you're in the US, but certainly when I was there, house buying was definately a hot topic in my age group both in professional and social circles. So don't read into it is my advise.

I too have been a high performer in a small company where the CEO was very aware of and was shifted into a role with higher accountablity and responsiblity - my recommendation is when you start thinking you're better than the boss and that you're a threat to the boss, (which I still stand on that I don't belive in) that's when its time to go.

For reasons you seem to be aware of, and what I questioned re: you boss's ambition, you seemed to agree, so like Ana, I do recommend you move on externally. With small or big company's never question the political backing of your superiors, what you see in an office or team environment, is only the tip of the ice-berg of what's going on behind the scenes. Which gets to my next point...

When you get feed back that you're too junior, - I would ask more quesitons about that. One of the issues I have seen is that there are great performers out there. For example, People deliver on their objectives, just like you, accurate and on time and in budget. They know their subject matter. But sometimes - they may have gaps such as their stakeholder management skills may be lacking, or leadership competencies needs more refining, presenations skills needs to be raised more, communication or how one experesses themselves needs fine-tuning - its not always about delivering on objectives but also the how. And often some refuse to accept and make no change and continue on fustrated, some embrace and take those to heart and develop, and others...leave. So if in the future someone says "you're to junior" - probe it. Understand where they are coming from, first see it as a learning opporunity - then you can choose to agree or disagree with subsequent actions.

Wishing you luck, I do agree the corporate side has its quirks and probably why at a certain age many of us depart. But that's not a topic for this forum.

DX
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