I burned the midnight oil, I helped my colleagues finish their work in time, I fetched and carried for my boss, I made his presentations, his spreadsheets, his reports but my colleague got promoted.

I thought I was indispensable. My colleague did not work as hard as me, and in my opinion he was an ass-licker of the first order. Just because he had the gift of the gab, had better polish, came from, arguably, a better institute and was an apple polisher, he got the promotion.

What happened? What was the problem? Do I need to be a flatterer as well? Was the culture of the organisation incompatible? Is there something wrong in me! Do I need to change myself? I did a lot of agonizing and came to some conclusions.

As I look back on my life I realize that life is unfair. Sometimes I have the luck and the advantage, sometimes some one else does. Sometimes I get what I want, sometimes I don’t. So I need to shrug my shoulders and move on else I will be stuck in that time warp.

Does it mean I should get kicked on every time? I don’t think so. I think I need to learn my lesson and ensure that the next time this does not happen. I need to control what I can control.

What can I control? I can control my response to this adversity. Easier said than done, when the unfairness is hurting and I want to lash back and kill my colleague and my boss in no particular order. However, the realisation that I can control something is the first step towards control but I know the road is long and hard.

While I figure out my long term plan towards self control, what are the lessons learnt from being passed over?

I need to handle my boss. With this particular incident, I need to understand what it was that I did right, and what was it that I did wrong, in his eyes. Even if I do not agree to his (il)logic, I should seek to understand how his mind functions. This will help me modify and/or advertise the appropriate behavior. Would that be ethical? Does it sound manipulative? Ethics is easy. If I think it is unethical, I should desist. Manipulation – that is easy too, for me. If I get my objective, I think it is justified. At the end of it, he will know your mind and be careful.

Should I undercut my erstwhile colleague? If I now report to him, too bad. It is a long and arduous battle to prove his incompetence. Maybe it is better to have a long chat with him, speak your mind and ask him the way forward. Maybe not. He might not take it the right way. Maybe when the time is right. In all, the best strategy is to make him to realise my worth, say over the next 3 months, and at the same time prepare plan B – another boss in the same or different organisation.

Although the appraisal process talks about my KRA and the resultant KPIs, they are company oriented. I need a separate set of KRA and KPI with my boss. I need to know my boss’s expectations and his measures of evaluating performance. If it is subjective, so be it. It is his yardstick and I cannot change that.

Should I talk to HR? If I feel strongly, I should register a protest. Bit typically hr is busy with process and if not handled sensitively, this can backfire.

Should I be negative and show my disapproval in obvious ways. It will make me feel good. It may make the other persons feel bad. The end result would be a spiral of negativity when they will lash back and the whole relationship will go downhill. Ultimately everyone, including the organisation suffers.

am I doing the right thing?

  1. October 31, 2008

    >sir, you have analyzed your thoughts in all possible way’s . However your conclusion ends with question??, puts me in astray :). Hope to see the end of tunnel.

  2. October 31, 2008

    >Sir, Mr Harivanshrai Bachchan said in Madhushala,”Just take any path, you will reach your goal.”There is no right or wrong solution. We need to make a decision based on the data we have at that moment. Inaction is crippling, negative action begets more negativity, hind sight is for losers.

  3. November 3, 2008

    >Sir, very rightly said the goal is to win it being in whatever way and as said by you there is no right or wrong solutions but only many options for handling a problem.

  4. November 16, 2008

    >Sir,After going through this i feel that this type of situation generally occurs in every organization, and now it depends on the individual how he manages to maintain the healthy relation.As per my opinion if that person is doing any work he should highlight all the things what he has done and give a mail to his boss and also mark a carbon copy to the superior of his boss & the HR dept, So that others must know about what he has done for the benefit of the organisaion.

  5. August 15, 2009

    >This is the write up I enjoyed the most – simply because if this skill is learned, your work life becomes more enjoyable.

  6. September 6, 2009

    >Nice post. It is always good to see people expressing themselves in different ways. Since you seem to be associated with Management, I would like to suggest you a new magazine – PEOPLE MATTERS started by an ISB Alumni, which was suggested to me by a friend and which I have found very useful. It deals with various important aspects of management, especially those related to Leadership & People Management, which the mainstream business publications often ignore. It's also relatively cheap. I guess its annual subscription is about Rs. 400 (US$ 8 approx) which is even less than the cost of a standard Pizza.Their last issue had an enlightening article by Robert Kaplan (the co-founder of Balanced Scorecard method, if you remember) where he talks about how organisations can create opportunities out of current economic downturn.I got its subscription online through their website: http://www.peoplematters.in If you like the magazine, kindly refer it to your friends or colleagues in the organization you work. They may be interested in subscribing to it.Thanks


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