Solution Saturday: Beware the Danglers

Dear Dan,

I am a coordinator for two regional directors. There was a shared manager but two weeks into my employment, the manager was fired and I was given more of the responsibilities he had.

After numerous conversations about my career goals and ambitions, we decided that training me for the manager position (which hadn’t been filled or even posted as available) would make it a shoe in for me to get the job.

A year later since nothing was happening with the position, I went to my executive director and laid it all on the table.

This is what coordinators do, this is what I do and am committed to the company, etc.

The executive director said due to budget reasons we couldn’t bring on another position and also that my team wasn’t hitting their sales goals so additional support wasn’t warranted. So I asked if we could circle back in 6 months and look at the numbers. He said ok.

Fast forward to this week – 6 months later where my team is at 77% of our goal and scheduled to hit goal – I am handed a form to sign, along with the other coordinators, that is an updated job description with added duties such as the ones I am doing.

Honestly, it felt like a slap in the face. Instead of promoting me to the position I’m doing, they changed the job description!

I know the saying, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” but what should my next move be?

Look for another job? Stick it out and hopefully they will choose me?

This whole thing makes me feel like my hard work and extra hours, client dinners, going above and beyond was not for this company, but perhaps another who can value me.

If I stop doing all the extras at this point, I’ll look like I’m not a team player. HELP!


Burned by unfulfilled promises

Dear Burned,

I’m sad to read your story. I know it’s frustrating. It’s true. You have been slapped in the face.

Unfulfilled aspirations drive us to despair.


Sadly, there are danglers in the world. They dangle future advancement or benefit in order to motivate people to go the extra mile without compensation. They take advantage of aspiration.

People say to me, “Dan, would you do this free thing for us? I’m sure you’ll get some paid engagements because of it.”

This approach offends me unless the free engagement is specifically designed as a marketing event. I give a few discounted presentations every year and have a special rate for coaching nonprofit leaders.

Don’t offend my generosity by dangling the possibility of future engagements. If I come for a discounted rate, it’s because I want to.

I’m also approached by people to promote their product, site, or service and then they dangle something. “I’m thinking of getting a coach.” Or, “We’re planning an event where you would be a great speaker.”

In other words, If you do something for me, I might hire you as an executive coach. Gag me with a spoon!

Danglers are manipulators trying to get something for nothing.

Manipulative leaders dangle promises of promotions or raises to people who have aspirations. My suggestion is never count on a dangler’s promises.

A word to leaders:

Don’t dangle promises of advancement. The future is uncertain. You may not be able to fulfill your promises.

  1. Prepare people for advancement.
  2. Give opportunities to earn advancement when they are available.
  3. Discuss aspirations but don’t make promises.
  4. Let people know that you can’t make promises.
  5. Provide lateral moves if you can’t advance someone.
  6. Create a system where job rotation provides variety and learning.
  7. Help people leave and find the job they aspire to earn. Holding people back won’t help you.

A word to Burned:

I suggest you decide if you like your job as it is. Your organization is willing to lose you over this. Rest assured that they’ve already discussed what to do if someone leaves.

I’m pretty sure they don’t expect you to leave.

Don’t try to reform the current leadership. It’s a waste of time.

You might want to sharpen up your resume and quietly find another opportunity.

Continue doing things that are above your pay grade. You may not earn a promotion in your current situation, but it expands your value.

The next time you go above and beyond, do it for you. Yes, work for advancement, but do what you do because it’s who you are. If advancement doesn’t come, move on. Or stay and be happy.

I encourage you to do your best to rise above your disappointment and keep pressing forward with a positive attitude. It might be difficult, but you will get further in the end.

Finally, take ownership of your future. Don’t hide behind disappointment.

You have my best,


What suggestions do you have for Burned?

*I suspend my 300 word limit on weekends.