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Career Decisions Blog

Comment on the choices that we all make in our careers.


Don't Lie To Me!

I had some trial rants at school but there was nothing that really provoked me to develop the art of ranting until I met "the management".

Early in my career, I had spent about a year working for an engineering company when I had a performance assessment with my manager. He took me through the process, we jointly evaluated my work under various headings, I came out with "straight As" - I had performed beyond expectations, I had operated at a more senior level than I was employed at.

I asked what this meant. I should expect a large pay rise and a promotion. I would get a team. I had taken responsibility and I would be rewarded with my first management position. I was pretty happy.

Oh naive fool! My manager was weak, he had told me what I wanted to hear. He couldn't deliver. He wasn't honest enough to explain what was within his power. I believed him, I had high expectations.

Some weeks later, a brown envelope arrived on my desk. I opened eagerly and found a good but modest pay rise and no promotion. I should have been happy. I had got more than most. But my expectation had been set much higher. I was disappointed.

I went straight to my manager and asked about my promotion. He waffled a bit. I replayed my assessment. He waffled a bit more. I told in less than subtle terms how disappointed I was...

That was the last time I spoke to my manager. I resigned shortly afterwards and took another job.

It's easy as a manager to play up your influence to your staff. But such lies build expectations that can't be delivered. They destroy your credibility with your team, their morale and team work.

If you are already there, and it is very easy so don't be smug and think you it couldn't happen to you, then you need to extract yourself. Getting out is easy, but it takes some guts.

First, honesty with your team. Tell them you screwed up and apologise.

Second, do everything you can to deliver. If that means taking on your boss, do it. If that means challenging bureaucracy, then do it.

However, there may be a price to pay...
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