Re: Ask The Mineshaft: Problem Promotion Edition

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Seems to me that unless there's an organized boycott or similar, you've got to evaluate the opportunity in terms of your own career. Maybe some talk with Linda about how you don't mean any affront to her could be mixed in with a friendly conversation asking her advice about tips on how to do the job well if you do take it?

At any rate you won't be able to take the promotion and keep it a secret from Linda, so if you feel like there's a need to smooth things over with her, I'd do it before making (or at least announcing) your decision rather than after.


Posted by: Mother's Younger Brother | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:39 AM
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Take it.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:39 AM
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Yeah, this seems ambiguous enough that talking to Linda straightforwardly should clear things up a lot.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:42 AM
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Take it. If there ends up being weirdness with Linda, just be friendly and up-front with her. (After all, they gave you the position; you didn't do anything to her.)


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:43 AM
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3. Same advice as everyone else. And not that it should be determinative, but there it is probably no other outcome that would yield any better results for "Linda". (And furthermore, if this kind of thing is going to give you this much pause, you really should re-evaluate your job/career assumptions and plans.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:48 AM
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The offer comes with no immediate increase in pay, but rather the promise that such an increase will be considered based on performance/results. This is fairly standard for the company, but kind of irksome. I know for a fact that Linda got a little bump in pay for doing some of this stuff, so I feel like so should I. But maybe just wait it out?

is this a woman writing? dammit, ask for more money. you deserve if it if you're taking a job with more responsibility that's a promotion! argh. i can't stand it when women (or men, or whatever, it doesn't really matter, but women never ask for raises in my experience) are afraid to ask for raises. don't just wait it out and hope! augh!


Posted by: catherine | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:51 AM
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Talk to Linda first, but take it in the end. Then look for another job, since your present employers seem to be cheapskates who are happy to shit on their employees and under-resource the training function in order to save the cost of one fucking post.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:51 AM
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Linda is asking to be shat upon by giving up the role. You should take it, but try to get the raise now. If you're really the best qualified person, tell them so.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:51 AM
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I'm pretty sure I'd not take it. But, either way, talk to Linda.

Linda might say, 'shit, yeah, go for it. I'm glad someone wants it, because I didn't'. In which case, no worries.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:54 AM
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Ask Linda why she declined the role, tell her you're thinking of taking it but want her input on whether they're trying to screw you, ask for a raise, then take it anyways.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:56 AM
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Everybody's also right to say that new responsibility + no extra money = raw deal. I assumed but forgot to mention that before you accept this "promotion" you need to get the bosses to give you a raise for it.


Posted by: Mother's Younger Brother | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:57 AM
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Absolutely take it. I agree with the above advice about Linda. Any other colleagues who may be jealous will get over it. This position could be challenging for you if you have to give your trainee's negative feedback, but it will be a great opportunity to develop was of coping with that difficulty.


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:58 AM
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I wouldn't take it without the pay bump (for the obvious reasons, and it also seems kind of insulting to Linda if you're worried about her feelings.) But I find the structure described baffling, and I'd hate working someplace set up like that -- I understand peers, and supervisors, but having a position where you're kind of in charge but not really sounds really annoying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 7:59 AM
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Never, ever take a role with more responsibilities without getting more money. Don't worry about Linda, you are under no obligation to her.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:01 AM
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10: I once unknowingly accepted a job which looked perfect: fun coworkers, relatively interesting work, higher pay, increased responsibility and skill level. Only after I'd accept it did I find out that the boss was a micromanager and marginally mentally ill, and that the last two or three people in the position had had utterly miserable experiences and had quit as soon as they could.

So anyway, that's another reason to talk to Linda. Maybe she knows something. Maybe there's something in the works that you don't want to be involved with.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:04 AM
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I'll be kind of shitting on Linda

Defacate away!


Posted by: blortch | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:06 AM
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The 'require more money' part is a no-brainer, obviously.

I'd be more inclined towards sympathy towards Linda than the other comments. If she is taking a principled stand in giving up these responsibilities, taking those responsibilities without discussing it with her first makes you complicit in the 'shitting on' that the company management are involved in. Not in some totally heinous way, but, nevertheless, it's there.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:06 AM
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Well, and she might be taking a stand in the interest of making all of your lives better, in which case: solidarity!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:10 AM
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I'd probably be more sympathetic to Linda if I understood the setup better -- I'm not clear what her principled reason would be for having stepped down. Is the work stuff that you really can't do properly under the circumstances? Because if so, taking it is a lousy idea. Or did she step down more because it's just not her kind of thing?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:11 AM
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some of these duties were just surrendered by a co-worker (let's call her Linda), who gave up the tasks in what seems to have been a move to force the departmental manager to create an actual "Team Leader" or "Coach" position

I think McG is clearly right here that you'll be a dick if you take the job without at least talking to Linda. Maybe she gives you her blessing and the decision is easy, maybe she makes it much harder to take the job. There are other jobs.

And for what it's worth, I once accepted an increased responsibility with deferred increased pay arrangement and it worked out fine, but you have to 1) trust the people you're dealing with and 2) have a time limit for how long you're willing to wait and a serious plan for moving on if they don't come around by then.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:12 AM
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I wouldn't take it without the pay bump

To the extent you are stating this as a general proposition: "No added responsibility without more pay" I am sure I disagree. On the facts presented, I think I disagree as well. Maybe the only reason the opportunity is being offered is that someone with less experience and who is at a lower salary is being given an opportunity to prove herself management-worthy. Giving her the chance at a higher salary may not be worth it (particularly since once salaries go up, they rarely go down, even if itturns out that management is not the right fit for her).

Absolutely, once she has showed that she can do the job, she should ask for appropriate pay. And if there are facts which have gone unstated that would lead her to think she deserves more pay now--again, ask. Indeed, it makes sense to talk about money now at a minimum in terms of "If this works out, I would expect . . . ". But opportunities are worth something, and I would be wary to missing a good one because the financial payoff was not immediate.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:14 AM
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deferred increased pay arrangement

I could see this if 'deferred' meant "Your pay bump can't come through until June", but not if it meant "we'll talk about this in the future sometime."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:14 AM
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but having a position where you're kind of in charge but not really sounds really annoying.

Agree with that.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:15 AM
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Don't worry about Linda, you are under no obligation to her.

Argh! This sort of comment irks me. Linda has been a mentor and a friend to the advice seeker, who doesn't give us any reason to think Linda has ever done anything to screw him/her over. I realize the "in it to win it," "every person for him-/herself" philosophy is generally the way the game gets played in corporate America, but it kind of sucks.

Aside from my naive and idealistic hangup about loyalty, though, I'd echo those who've suggested a talk with Linda in advance could be useful in getting a clearer picture of the dynamics in play. She may well be able to offer insights as to drawbacks you overlooked or leverage you might be able to use to your advantage.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:15 AM
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Don't overlook the clause, "which is the standard set-up for a department right like ours". Here is a company trying to cut corners, and, in Linda's estimate, evidently failing. How much do you want to be a part of this. You should probably take it, because it would look OK on your resume when you move on, which should probably be a.s.a.p.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:17 AM
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re: 21

I've taken more responsibility with no immediate extra pay, also. But there was a promise in place to get the extra pay within a specified time frame. As it happened, the pay rise didn't come through when specified, so I had to go and effectively bully the manager in question into authorizing it.

However, in general, if a job involves more responsibility, it requires more money and settling for anything else is selling both yourself and your co-workers short.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:22 AM
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19- I know you've been there for a while, Becks, so I think you have some leverage. I largely agree with LB.

Even if you decide to take it, this is a rare opportunity to a) ask for more money b) better define and possibly restructure the position to make it best for you. Rather than THE decision, think of Monday as AN answer that you need to start a process. Once you say 'Yes', you'll have lost those opportunities.

As far as Linda is concerned, speak to her, but you maybe you can address the concern with management. If you allow this process to last past Monday, it will be much easier to reconcile this with her as well. Even if it's the best move for you, do your best to not to piss her off. It's not a zero sum game.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:23 AM
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Yeah. None of the data points are conclusive, but put together this smells like a booby trap. Linda stepped down for some reason: either a principled belief that the job shouldn't be done this way; or a belief that it's undoable, and whoever tries is going to look bad; or she just doesn't want it for personal reasons, and if it's either of the first two, you don't want it (other than as resume-fodder while you job-hunt). They don't want to pay you more for it, which while Idealist could be right about it, also sounds like "let's load up our gung-ho employees with responsibilities and not compensate them for it, and wave goodbye when they burn out." And the setup is non-standard within your organization, in a way that does look like they're being cheap.

All of that could be a misunderstanding of the situation, but I'd really want to be sure I understood what was going on before I stepped into this one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:23 AM
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21: With all due respect, Idealist, your attitude to work is unique, legendary, and fanatical, and I'm confident that no one here shares it, so your advice might not be relevant to very many of us.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:23 AM
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With all due respect, Idealist, your attitude to work is unique, legendary, and fanatical, and I'm confident that no one here shares it, so your advice might not be relevant to very many of us.

Of course, advice to dick away half the day on the internet probably isn't great advice, notwithstanding the popularity of this strategy among many of us...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:28 AM
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promotion is good may be if you have natural inclination to supervise, have good mentoring or training others abilities
aside taking friend's job thing, that i think is not a big problem, may be Linda is like me
for me it always was difficult to teach others, i can't possibly even consider to accept such a proposal without much raise in pay of course
if challenged may be i'd try


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:28 AM
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I'm not putting my name on this one because it reads like a description of my department.

Don't take it. It's a trap.

If they're not willing to pay you for what you are doing, they're screwing you over. Who knows what they promised Linda? I assume she's a smart lady, if she was your mentor, and anyone knows that taking a role and then rejecting it is a career killing move if your bosses are even remotely inclined to take that kind of thing personally. She must've had strong reasons for what she did.

The miffed employee will be gunning for you and stirring up trouble the whole time. You'll get more work piled onto you because you're the 'leader' with no thanks for it (since look how they're treating Linda). And best of all, if they make you indispensable, they'll never help you move on in the company because they need you to run the job!

Unfortunately, if you don't take it, you don't look like a team player and they'll hate you for that, too.


Posted by: Anonymous President | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:31 AM
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I agree with most of the thread, especially OFE.

I think Idealist and Ogged are talking about a very specific subset of jobs in which a promise of more money in the future is broadly understood to be a commitment on the part of management. It's a massively unrepresentative subset.

Reading between the lines of this post, the asker doesn't sound at all as though s/he is in this kind of industry. I strongly, strongly suspect that they have no real plan for offering more money, that they are trying to get something structurally impossible because they are too cheap to add one more staff person, and that even if the individual supervisor danging the prospect of more money is semi-serious, there will be nothing in writing and no timeline by which the asker can truly expect to get X raise by X time.

Talk to Linda, ask for more money, take it, and then start looking for a new job.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:37 AM
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Talk to Linda, ask for more money, take it, and then start looking for a new job.

I mostly agree with Witt, with an extra dose of look for a new job.

But, I would add that she should talk with management about the potential issues and discuss with them their expectations for how it will be handled. One, this is an important management issue for you. Two, you need to know whether they will support you when things get rough. Three, when it gets rough, you have already told them about the issues.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:42 AM
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but put together this smells like a booby trap

I would totally take boobies in lieu of a pay increase.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:42 AM
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You'd look kind of peculiar with them, but different strokes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:43 AM
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Oh, I'd be stroking them all right.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:44 AM
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Whenever I see gswift post, I hear a little voice in my head say "gswift gets it on like the easter bunny."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:46 AM
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But seriously, run away! Talk to Linda first, but the fact that the questioner even has to ask means he/she is not in the loop on this. Linda, someone he/she respects, is in the loop, and declined it. Bad sign.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:47 AM
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Just take the job already, McManus.


Posted by: sam k | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:47 AM
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"gswift gets it on like the easter bunny."

Just don't tell my wife.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:47 AM
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According to google, she's fully aware, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:50 AM
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38: Making little squeeking sounds?

A weird 9th grade friend of mine who bred rabbits really got off on their sex practices.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:51 AM
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43: And he grew up to be a utiliarian. You should see the warehouse he runs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 8:52 AM
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43: And she became the "Pets or Meat" lady in Roger and Me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:11 AM
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Hey, great advice everyone. To clarify, I'm a "he" which does complicate the mix (the next two supervisors up the chain are men, too, and I'm not stoked about one-upping the woman who has been a mentor and a friend).

As for the baffling nature of the structure, I agree. This move would be part of a change to clarify that structure, by making more "official" the duties Linda abdicated rolled up with some things I was already doing on the side (plus some other stuff).

And yes, I forgot the point already made: if I turn it down, my life will be less fun at work for sure, but it seems there's a strong contention here that I should be working elsewhere anyway. Hmm...

Thanks, everyone!


Posted by: Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:12 AM
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But back to the post: The writer's there, and knows more than any of us about the situation. I wouldn't take the near-consensus that the promotion is a bad idea as anything more than a warning -- it could be that everything's fine, and none of the red flags mean anything significant. But I would have an indepth talk with Linda.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:13 AM
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Oh, crossed with AAS.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:14 AM
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You know what I'm curious about, AAS? You keep on talking about this as "shitting on" or "one-upping" Linda, and from what you've said, it's not really clear to me why that's true. Did she step down voluntarily, or was she pushed out? (Because I'm not really clear why this would be 'one-upping' her if she stepped down voluntarily.) And if the latter, what were the circumstances?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:18 AM
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About the deferred raise, that's how things happen in my company, too. You get a promotion but only get the pay bump after you prove you can execute the new job effectively for 6 months. Makes for fun conversations with the relatives: "I got a promotion! No. No raise."


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:20 AM
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49: She stepped down because they weren't making it an official position, one with the same clout as commensurate departments. Her thinking (I think) was that they would then have to make it an official position and "hire" for it, and she and I and maybe one more person would be the most likely candidates. That is, she and I had talked about one day competing in a friendly way for the official spot if it ever opened up.

I'm being offered a spot that's the closest thing to that position handed to me, and it feels odd the way it's going down (like it might be designed in part to punish her abdication of the role). But I can't tell. Talking to Linda is my next step. I was unclear about whether to talk to her, but the overwhelming consensus here is: yes.


Posted by: Incautiously Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:22 AM
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51: Shall I fix your anonymity?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:24 AM
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You call that anonymous?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:24 AM
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Hey, whoops! Someone want to fix 51's non-anonymous-ness. I don't really care about folks here knowing it's me, but I'd hate for a co-worker to stumble over here.


Posted by: Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:24 AM
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men like challenges i suppose
Idealist and Ogged's position i would endorse then
if you really like your job less pay is ok in my opinion


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:25 AM
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You get a promotion but only get the pay bump after you prove you can execute the new job effectively for 6 months

That's usually how things go in this company, too.


Posted by: Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:26 AM
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Yeah, I'd say talk to her too. I had a friend leave a company after giving me the department head position he held. A couple of days after I got a phone call from him telling me to "run like hell, the people in corporate HQ are crazy". He was right.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:26 AM
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How different is the job you're being offered from the job as Linda wanted it, and do you agree with her that the differences are important? Because you could negotiate on those points, as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:28 AM
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There are other jobs.

You know, this really isn't necessarily true in a practical sense for some people. Other jobs which fit your skills and interest and also provide a decent workplace and livable $ and benefits can be quite hard to find. One might decide to put up with a lot when faced with a long, long job search.

Not that I speak from personal experience . . .


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:29 AM
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AAS, I am curious about how this is shitting on Linda. Or more generally how this works. She gave up some duties in the hopes that the company would create a team leader position. The company did so. Had she given up the duties in the hopes that she'd be offered them back? Does this strike anyone else as a little strange?

I'm breaking with some of the advice here in that I only think you should talk to Linda first if you're willing not to take the promotion on her sayso, because I can't imagine much more annoying than someone pretending to ask my input and then doing what they want w.r.t. their career and life anyway. If she says, AAS, I don't want you to take it, are you going to turn it down?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:30 AM
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The company did so.

I don't think so.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:32 AM
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58: It's roughly equivalent: some things have been added; some taken away, if that makes sense.

Had she given up the duties in the hopes that she'd be offered them back?

I suspect so. And I doubt she'd ask me to turn it down, so talking to her ahead seems low-risk. I think.


Posted by: Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:35 AM
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Does this strike anyone else as a little strange?

Not really. I've seen similar things happen. Someone decides that they've had enough of doing two jobs and being paid for one lesser role. They instigate a personal 'work to rule', thinking, "I'm fucked if I am going to do all this extra shit when those bastards are just trying to exploit the fact I am willing to do management work for non-management pay".

I've sort of been there myself more than once, and it seems a fairly common situation.

So, I could see someone else then coming along and taking the same duties on as being like a mild form of 'scab' labour.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:35 AM
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59 makes a good point depending on geographic location. In a major metro area, AAS has much more potential for new job opportunities.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:36 AM
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being like a mild form of 'scab' labour.

That's exactly how I'm worried I'll feel if I accept.


Posted by: Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:39 AM
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She stepped down because they weren't making it an official position, one with the same clout as commensurate departments.

I sound as though it might be responsibility without authority, which is a position I've been in. So maybe Linda had good reason to quit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:41 AM
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In a major metro area, AAS has much more potential for new job opportunities.

Still depends on the particular job. I live in a really big city swimming with lawfirms, but jobs in my particular practice area and in the range of my present pay (not Biglaw, but not public interest) are few and far between. I am reminded of this fact every time I start thinking I want out.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:41 AM
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I have to step out for a bit, but I'll check back and clarify further in an hour or so. Thanks again, all.


Posted by: Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:42 AM
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59 makes a good point depending on geographic location.

Yeah, like say if you've moved from the nation's capital to a much smaller city not chock full of non-profits and in a right-to-work state.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:43 AM
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61: Created the position, deferred pay, added some extra duties.

63: I've seen people quit duties that they weren't being paid for. That's not the question. In my admittedly limited experience, you don't give up more responsibility and expect to be the one that gets it back.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:47 AM
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in a right-to-work state

What's "a right-to-work state" mean?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:52 AM
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That they hate unions, there is much less likely to be collective bargaining for public employees, and unions have much less power and protections.

Federal labor law pre-empts some aspects of labor law but not all.

The relevance in this discussion is very few labor movement jobs.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 9:59 AM
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There are probably more lobbying jobs than anything else in labor (save being a local organizer, at which I would suck) and I do not want to be a lobbyist. (I'd also overlap a lot with my brother, who lobbies for the teachers union, which would be kind of groovy and kind of weird.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:02 AM
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Most lobbying jobs here, BTW, are related to the lack of collective bargaining for most public employees. State employees' pay and benefits are set by the Lege rather than negotiated.

'Kay, think I'm done now with my long-winded answer.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:05 AM
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AAS: I agree that this sounds like a bit of a trap. I would not accept it without an immediate pay increase and a clarification of the potential responsibility without authority issue. And I'd definitely talk to Linda before management.

If you MUST accept it without an immediate pay increase, negotiate now when they'll review your pay and -- this is the really important part -- what the very specific criteria are for you to receive said raise. If you don't, an unethical company might say, "we don't think you did well enough" and if they didn't communicate expectations up-front, it's hard to make a case that you did what they wanted.

71: It really should be called "right to fire, for any reason at any time."


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:08 AM
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Yeah, on the pay bump, I'm talking out of my ass because I haven't been in this situation. But I can see taking it on if the terms were "If you're doing well enough that we're keeping you in the job, you get a raise at specific time X. If you don't work out, we'll ask you to step back to your previous responsibilities." If "You're doing well enough that we want you to keep doing the work, but not well enough to get paid" is an option, screw that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:11 AM
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76: "If you're doing well enough that we're keeping you in the job, you get a raise at specific time X. If you don't work out, we'll ask you to step back to your previous responsibilities."

Ooh, yes. I would be making this abundantly clear. Basically at this point, I plan to talk to Linda (who's not around today, dang it) and think about it more over the weekend.


Posted by: Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:24 AM
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Since this looks like the job thread of the week:

Those equity analyst interviews I was bitching about a few weeks ago? After considerable waiting time while details were haggled over and my current boss (who has only been here for a couple months) tried to sink my application, I finally had another meeting with the heads of our equity research teams and got the job!

I get to be a finance nerd for the entire division and cover healthcare firms! Probably biotechs! Woohoo!


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:25 AM
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71: It really should be called "right to fire, for any reason at any time."

Oh so true; there's no "just cause" protection, so you can be fired just 'cuz.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:25 AM
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78. Excellent.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:27 AM
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I get to . . . cover healthcare firms!

And you'll be talking about how national health care would return so much more value for shareholders, right? Right?

Congratulations on getting the promotion.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:28 AM
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78: Congrats, PMP!


Posted by: Anonymous Advice Seeker | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:28 AM
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What's "a right-to-work state" mean?

That they can fire you for any reason whatsoever!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:32 AM
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What's "a right-to-work state" mean?

That they can fire you for any reason whatsoever!

And the official language is Newspeak?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:34 AM
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Wooo PMP!


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:35 AM
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darn. Sir Kraab beat me again.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:36 AM
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And the official language is Newspeak?

Yet another example of the right beating us in the rhetoric game.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:37 AM
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A huge percentage of people think that your employer has to give you severance. But it is simply not true.

The employer can walk in one morning and tell you that today is your last day of work. You don't get any pay beyond that day.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:37 AM
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Whenever someone complains about it, I tell them that they better vote for the Democrats.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:38 AM
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86: I thought you liked that, will. Did I forget the safe word?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:41 AM
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I thought you liked that, will. Did I forget the safe word?

It is really difficult to say "m/tch is coming!" while I am being beaten.

Maybe we should find something shorter.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 10:47 AM
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71 and subsequent:

To be perfectly clear, a "right to work state" is one in which a closed union shop is forbidden. In other words, collective bargaining agreements may not prescribe that employees at a facility must belong to the union. This obviously hobble unions because it opens them up to free riders who profit from union negotiations but don't pay union dues.

"Right to work state" = "they can fire you for any reason whatsoever" is true only in a very roundabout way. Under U.S. labor law, every employee is an employee "at will" (i.e. your employee can fire you at any time for any reason*) unless you have a contract that says otherwise. That contract may be individual (common for upper level management) or collective (i.e. a collective bargaining agreement with a recognized union representative).

If you are not covered by an individual contract or a CBA, then you can be fired at any time for any reason, even if you live in a non-right-to-work state.

* there are certain exceptions written into law, for example you can't be fired for being the wrong color or gender or for being a union organizer. Being illegal doesn't mean it doesn't happen all the time, of course.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:13 AM
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Under U.S. labor law, every employee is an employee "at will" (i.e. your employee can fire you at any time for any reason*) unless you have a contract that says otherwise.

Broadly true-ish, but not true in every state, AFAIK.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:15 AM
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Further to 92: Maybe you signed something when you started your job that specified all kinds of obligations you have to uphold (confidentiality, non-competition, non-solicitation, forfeiting IP rights to work product, etc.) in return for collecting your salary?

You might think that means have a contract with your employer and therefore can't be fired for no reason, right? You've got a signed document that specifies obligations and consideration, right? Wrong! That document probably says "This is not a contract. You are an employee at will" or language to that effect. Amazingly, this is perfectly legal and will be upheld by courts in every state of the union.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:16 AM
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Broadly true-ish, but not true in every state, AFAIK.

OK, that's a fair characterizaton. But the exceptions are so limited, and the burden of proof on the employee so high, that it is generally true for practical purposes, unless you have access to very good legal counsel, and sometimes even then.

Here is Wikipedia on at-will employment.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:23 AM
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Jeez Knecht.

My description is a lot more fun.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:26 AM
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* there are certain exceptions written into law, for example you can't be fired for being the wrong color or gender or for being a union organizer. Being illegal doesn't mean it doesn't happen all the time, of course.

Or being old. The US is pretty much the only developed country with strong anti-age-discrimination laws. And I believe judges tend to give down larger and more consistantly anti-employer judgements in age discrimination suits than in other forms of unlawful firing, making it effectively stronger than our other anti-discrimination protections.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:27 AM
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Well, yeah. Because the people being mistreated in age discrimination suits are older white guys, so they're presumptively competent, not like women and minorities. The equities are clearer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:28 AM
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My description is a lot more fun.

No malice intended, Will. I've got a burr in my tail about this.

Next to the individualization of the risk of serious illness, this is probably my least favorite aspect of America's sociopolitical order.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:32 AM
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The US is pretty much the only developed country with strong anti-age-discrimination laws.

But here's the rub: countries with strong employment protections do not necessarily* have as much need for age discrimination protections because the fact of your employment protects you from arbitrary dismissal. The U.S. has employment protection only on a very piecemeal basis for "protected classes"**, and I'm willing to bet that a lot of purported age/sex/race discrimination cases would never have been filed if the employees had some due process rights that didn't require them to accuse the employer of agism/sexism/racism.

*Where an older person in, say, France or Germany, is screwed is if they lose their job in their 40s and need to find another one. Employers will be reluctant to hire them because they will be expensive (union wage rates reward the old as well as the senior). In that case, the permissibility of age discrimination works strongly against older workers. I had one acquaintance in France who was told, when the interviewer saw her resume, that "We do not hire anyone born in the Fourth Republic."

**This is also one of the reasons, apart from homophobia, that drives public opposition to including sexual orientation in employment discrimination laws. The argument "why should they get special treatment?" carries a lot of weight with people who have no protection from dismissal whatsoever.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 11:39 AM
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There are places where 'at will' has been significantly eroded. The Virgin Islands, for example, has a wrongful discharge statute that's pretty broad. The Montana Supreme Court decided a case on its wrongful discharge act last week:

¶38 Wrongful discharge can be proven in several ways, one of which is by demonstrating that the employer lacked good cause for the discharge. "Good cause for discharge" is defined as reasonable job-related grounds for dismissal based on (1) a failure to satisfactorily perform job duties; (2) disruption of the employer's operation; or (3) other legitimate business reason. Section 39-2-903(5), MCA. We define a "legitimate business reason" as "a reason that is neither false, whimsical, arbitrary or capricious," and logically related to the needs of the business. Buck v. Billings Montana Chevrolet, Inc., 248 Mont. 276, 281-82, 811 P.2d 537, 540 (1991). A court must balance the right of an employer to exercise discretion over who it will employ and keep in employment against the legitimate interests of the employee to secure employment. Buck, 248 Mont. at 282, 811 P.2d at 540. "The balance should favor an employee who presents evidence, and not mere speculation or denial, upon which a jury could determine that the reasons given for his termination were false, arbitrary or capricious, and unrelated to the needs of the business." Johnson v. Costco Wholesale, 2007 MT 43, ¶ 23, 336 Mont. 105, ¶ 23, 152 P.3d 727, ¶ 23, quoting Kestell v. Heritage Care Corp., 259 Mont. 518, 526, 858 P.2d 3, 8 (1993).


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 3:03 PM
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In the quoted case, the plaintiff alleges that he was discharged, inter alia, because he has a hyphenated name.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 3:08 PM
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Those bastards.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 3:18 PM
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Supreme Court sent it back, so this courageous stand on behalf of Hyphenated Americans can continue.

Actually, the guy who recommended that the plaintiff be fired did say that the hypenated name pissed him off, and he thought other people thought so too. The plaintiff had worked there for 15 years without problem, but changed his name after his second marriage. The employer ought to be looking for the door . . .


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-22-08 3:25 PM
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The thought that an employer cannot ask an employee to increase their responsibility without a pay increase is absurd.

This is just the Union mentality that is causing many industries, such as automotive, to decay.

That said, the pay should be fair for both parties, and since you seem to 'want it' then i'm guessing it is.

Regarding your colleagues....be above it all (although do talk with your friend).


Posted by: Dave | Link to this comment | 02-24-08 6:52 AM
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The thought that an employer cannot ask an employee to increase their responsibility without a pay increase is absurd.

This is just the Union mentality that is causing many industries, such as automotive, to decay.

That said, the pay should be fair for both parties, and since you seem to 'want it' then i'm guessing it is.

Regarding your colleagues....be above it all (although do talk with your friend).


Posted by: Dave | Link to this comment | 02-24-08 6:54 AM
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The thought that an employer cannot ask an employee to increase their responsibility without a pay increase is absurd.

This is just the Union mentality that is causing many industries, such as automotive, to decay.

That said, the pay should be fair for both parties, and since you seem to 'want it' then i'm guessing it is.

Regarding your colleagues....be above it all (although do talk with your friend).


Posted by: Dave | Link to this comment | 02-24-08 6:54 AM
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The thought that an employer cannot ask an employee to increase their responsibility without a pay increase is absurd.

This is just the Union mentality that is causing many industries, such as automotive, to decay.

That said, the pay should be fair for both parties, and since you seem to 'want it' then i'm guessing it is.

Regarding your colleagues....be above it all (although do talk with your friend).


Posted by: Dave | Link to this comment | 02-24-08 6:54 AM
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