Solution Saturday: Beware the Danglers
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
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.
- Prepare people for advancement.
- Give opportunities to earn advancement when they are available.
- Discuss aspirations but don’t make promises.
- Let people know that you can’t make promises.
- Provide lateral moves if you can’t advance someone.
- Create a system where job rotation provides variety and learning.
- 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.
I was in a coordinator position in a mental health agency for five years and was managed by danglers the entire time. Initially, I was motivated and energized. That got old fast. When I presented feelings about my value and advancement during the annual review process, I felt invalidated. Ultimately, it was clear I was in a power struggle with them and they had made the decision that I would never advance. Mind you, I was strategic,respectful and smart about every conversation. They were wrong and wouldn’t admit it. At which point they began to focus on and exaggerate any slight mishap in day to day routines. I got two written warnings in less than one year when I had never in 25 years.
In the end, I got my resume together and got a directors position in another agency within one month of looking for opportunities. I started in March and couldn’t be happier. No danglers. No punitive nonsense. I’m in a healthy work environment where I’m valued. My advice:get out. You will never advance there.
I agree that you work to your career aspirations, increase your value and stay true to your work ethic regardless of what is going on around you.
Wow, 18 months is a long time to have a promotion dangled over you when you are working in that role. When seeking advancement, It’s also important to put together a plan that everyone agrees to. Document the discussion during the formal review process or summarize the discussion in an email. Giving life to your goals helps keep everyone aligned. Or in this case, helping to summarize your accomplishments to update resume for the next job.
Come on leaders, you’ve got to value your people!
Good luck with job search.
Dear Burned- Dan pretty much nailed it, particularly about the “doing your best for yourself” part. Seeing this current job as a learning and training opportunity rather than a long term career choice could help prevent resentment from building. Because they have demonstrated dishonesty and lack of integrity in regards to your relationship thereby destroying trust, I would emphasize creating an exit strategy that feels right for your needs and appropriate timing. Leverage this current situation to add experience and substance to your resume. As best you can, vent your emotions with a trusted friend/mentor/coach/therapist and view the situation as objectively as possible while making and executing your plan. The timing doesn’t sound urgent, so take advantage of what benefits from learning and self development are there. Take your time to find the next right and perfect fit. Adopt the mindset that the next place must meet your standards for honesty and integrity and that you are interviewing THEM. Value yourself realistically yet don’t sell yourself short.
Seek and you will find.
Fulfillment comes in many forms, the “Hedonic treadmill ” is what we ride, when we get off may be the your best choice.
If you need financial rewards to feel needed best of luck, you may have to leave as the budget controls the pay it sounds?
False promises are always there, only you can decide when it’s time to move on.
Great advice and article Dan! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, wisdom, and experience. My teams and I subscribe to your blog and are faithful readers, often sharing thoughts and ideas generated from your words. For those who are dedicated to learning to be better leaders, your blog is invaluable. Thank you for all you do to give back to those in service of others! We appreciate you!
P.S. Burned-you have been given a gift from an experienced leader. Go forth and find a company where management isn’t leading you down the primrose path and where your contributions are acknowledged and appreciated. Honest leaders with integrity do exist! Don’t sell yourself short by staying in an organization that doesn’t honor or value the employee relationship. Rule #1 Take care of your people. If your company isn’t doing that…well, I think you already know what that’s like. Good luck and be true to you!
Learn everything you can, be polite and use this as a springboard to get somewhere where you are properly compensated. If there is an exit interview, explain politely but directly the organisational disconnect between words and actions. Sadly, there’s a lot of it about. The irony is that if you were to sell somebody outside your organisation a product or service this way, you would have trading/business standards crawling all over you and customers leaving in droves.
Informative, I have faced danglers and one cant do much on that.
FM…I’ve been dangled to and been a dangler. Oh my, as a volunteer leader, it never felt authentic, but there it is…I did the “speak for us for free, and who knows what kind of connections, blah, blah, blah (which is probably what they heard after I said speak for free)…” My work gets asked all the time to provide free service for non-profits and we might get a paying job…free isn’t free to me because my employees expect to get paid. I’m glad you shared it “gags” you when this happens. I couldn’t figure out why it bugged me so much. (BTW, FM is what I thought as I was reading “f*ck me, I’m a dangler!”)
Dan, you really do get in my head and make me think. Now, you are going to have to stop that because we can’t have people running around thinking all the time…Holy Cow, the world might improve!