Dear Someone Else’s Dad,
I joined a large customer-service company 18 months ago, right out of college. About six months into the job my manager had a family emergency, so she has been absent from work a great deal over the past year. I was able to pick up the slack and managed both of our workloads to a point where I feel I understand everything about our clients and our business.
A few weeks ago my manager, who’s now back full time, was promoted to a new role, so the company posted a listing for her previous job. I applied for the job since I have basically been doing my manager’s work for about a year, and think it would be a no-brainer to have me continue. To my surprise the company gave the role to a more senior woman who works on a different team and in a different location.
Now I know I’ve only been here a relatively short time, but I feel that it would be a step backwards for me to be the “junior” to a manager who doesn’t really know our clients. How can I show her that I really don’t need a manager at this point?
Honestly I can’t say I feel your pain. I don’t know your firm’s specific policy, but it would seem unlikely that the higher-ups would promote you just because you’ve filled in for your prior manager for the past year. Let’s break this down to two areas: 1) why someone gets promoted and 2) whether someone needs a manager.
Many factors go into promotions, not just the number of hours spent on specific tasks. Even though you followed up on your prior manager’s work, she may have spent many years developing relationships to bring in those accounts. Also, during that time she may have refined her client pitch, recognized how to sell specific strategies to different clients, and presented new ideas to senior management about how and where to find the most profitable business.
I’m not saying that you are not capable of doing any or all of the above, but good senior management will look for that type of track record before considering anyone for promotion. When you apply for your next bump-up be prepared to demonstrate more than your time sheet.
I’m glad you feel that you don’t need a manager—that’s great entrepreneurial spirit. In large companies, however, being a lone wolf is not necessarily a good thing. Your new manager may not be familiar with your clients, but she must bring something to the role that will ultimately bring benefits to your team and to the organization. Your responsibility is to get to know her and ask questions about her goals. Make sure you listen more than you speak. Paraphrase what she said to show that you understand and that you want to learn from her experience. Then relax. The relationship should grow organically as long as you keep the lines of communication very open.
Best of luck to you,
Someone Else’s Dad