A reader writes:
I’m in the media world. I’m emphasizing this because it seems that every attempt at getting advice use it seems that every attempt at getting advice for any work-related issue ends with “Hey, it’s media, the rules don’t apply.” Maybe you can help me.
My boss is a monster. Exceptionally inappropriate, emotionally abusive, manipulative, etc. I’ve dealt with it. But what happened to really set me off was the following: After 3 years+ at my current job title, I asked for a promotion. My workload had increased by 70%, my responsibilities are in-line with those of a higher title, I’ve put in another jobs’ worth of extra hours–all without sacrificing quality. Other co-workers had received the promotion to my desired title, though their workloads had not increased, etc. So I thought I was pretty good for the bump finally. I asked professionally and received the following response: “As much as I want to, you’re definitely qualified, you do an exceptional job, but in order to do that…I’d have to fire another person to justify to our CEO the title change. Who should I fire?”
I believe I sat there, a bit dumbfounded, and instead asked what I could do to get the title change. “Nothing, you’re definitely doing the work and you’re more than qualified.” She said that she could make a case for me in a few months, during budget review, but couldn’t make any promises. Since then, she’s told all of my coworkers how I asked for a promotion and did not get one.
These are all inappropriate things, right? I’m losing my perspective as to if this is an OK thing for her to do.
Yes, it’s highly inappropriate
First of all, she can’t change your title without firing someone? That’s BS. And even it were somehow true, which it’s not, her asking you, “Who should I fire?” is a transparent and disgusting attempt to manipulate you into backing down.
Look, maybe she really is facing budget constraints, but a good manager would have said, “I agree that your work is great and warrants a promotion. Unfortunately, I don’t have a slot to promote you into right now, and my hands are tied from above. But I’m committed to making sure your work is recognized, and we’re revisiting the budget in two months, and I’m going to see what I can do then. Meanwhile, what else can we do to ensure you feel valued?”
Second, she told all your coworkers that you asked for a promotion and didn’t get one? I cannot imagine in what context she would bring this up, or why. It’s astonishingly unprofessional.
This woman is a jerk, plain and simple. Go get that promotion from another company.