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Hi everyone:

I have been listening to the MT podcasts for a while and absolutely love them. They have been spot on. I've done a search but cannot really find a specific response to the issue I have so here goes...

I recently got a job as a summer analyst. The hiring process was long (6 interviews) but a good fit for me as a I have: 1)  the right education and skills and 2) speak the local language that they do a lot of business in overseas (no one else in the office speaks this obscure language, including the people directly above me). I've been working hard (12-15 hrs/day + weekends) and am happy to do so and love what I am doing. While no explicit promises were made, it was said by the MD that hired me, that if the business does well, I may be able to continue with a full time offer in the fall.

HOWEVER, I am in a bit of a jam. As a summer analyst, I am the lowest person on the totem pole (and rightfully so). I work with one FT analyst and a FT associate. Last night, I overheard the analyst complaining to the associate about his compensation and his fear that if new people are hired, he will not get a raise. The analyst then explicitly asked the associate to "make sure no one else gets hired" after the summer. The associate did not say anything to correct him or let him know that what he said was not appropriate. They did not seem to know I was there, and then I made a bit of noise to announce my presence and the analyst seemed very flustered after he realized I overheard him. They are good friends and are unable to leave the company because of their work visas.

This is very awkward for me since they both, technically, are above me and are my bosses. I have an OK relationship with the MD that hired me, but am unsure how much he knows about what I am doing. Further, if these two are willing to throw me under the bus for the sake of a few dollars more, my performance seems to be irrelevant. I would also expect that since these people are senior to me, if they say they do not want to work with me, it would carry a lot of weight. The MD is tough, but fair, but also really busy and not around much. I can't really present him my work, because I report to the associate.

So the question is: what do I do? Is there even anything I can do?

jhack's picture

They may or may not have the power to make that decision.  They may be delusional.  Circumstances may change and hiring eases.  They may lose their positions. 

Don't assume the MD is blind to your performance, or to their behavior.  "There are no secrets."

Your best course of action is to perform well.  Whether they hire you or not, that is your best strategy.  Keeping your resume up to date, and staying in touch with your network, is also a good move regardless. 

You can't win a mudfight with pigs.  Stay above it. 

Finally, there is a podcast that covers part of your situation:  The Dangle.   http://www.manager-tools.com/2009/01/dangle

John Hack

HomerJ's picture

Thank you. That podcast you posted was also extremely helpful!

lga45's picture

I agree with the previous comment.

We all have to choose whether we decide to behave ethically at work, or not. I love MT mostly because they take the ethical approach, and they are explicit about that too. Its not "preaching" as far as I'm concerned. Too many people let rip at the office, using whatever small power they have to unfairly gain advantages over others. My experience tells me this will eventually come back to bite you in the ***. Dont do it. Work hard, perform. Workers who are busy trying to tear others down are not busy being productive. It ultimately leads to their own personal & professional failure.

Believe me, managers can spot unethical behavior a long way off. Even if I dont know  the details of today's "plot", I can spot the shifty individuals from the straight shooters. These are character traits which we get to know over time, and ideally, we'd be giving feedback on such unproductive behavior to our directs, if we ever notice it directly.

So, given that we ALL have the choice, I say stick with the light side of the force :) 

naraa's picture

Good advice.  

I would like to add one comment on something I have learned over the years.  I have seen that things go sour when people and companies (or better say manager´s from these companies, as companies don´t think) think one owns something to each other.  Don´t overwork for the perspective of something you might get in the future, because indeed you may not.  Overwork if you want for the sake of your own fulfillment, professional growth and professional responsibility. If you get the job great, if you don´t, you will get another.  You have had a tremendous opportunity of professional growth during these three months.  People should not get the feeling the company owns it to them and neither should the companies have the feeling the people own to them other than what they have been hired for, payed for and performed at the present time.  

I do agree a number of supervisory level professionals have a very difficult time perceiving the necessity of more people and also perceiving change.  People tend to forecast that was was true yesterday will also be true tomorrow, what happened yesterday will happen tomorrow.  The circumstances may have changed, more money may be available and you may have a  good chance of getting the job.  

As much as I think their behaviour is not correct, try to be sympathetic to them, do not hate them for it.  Try to see the history and the situation they are in, which is different from yours: threaten of your knowledge of a language they don´t know, history of people getting fired in the near past, uneasiness due to their visa situations,....  Be positive, wish for the best for them and also for you and things will work out.  

Don´t let this rubbish talk put you down or take your focus, energy and excitement away.  They may have known you were there and are playing games, passing you a message they don´t have the courage to tell you directly.  I fully agree with the advice given: stay above it, both at work and in your head, don´t let this get to you.  And finally, if you did not have a good chance of getting hired, they would not be discussing out it.  

HomerJ's picture

Thanks everyone. And a little update to my situation...

I've been keeping my head down, and doing good work and ignoring the gossip, but it seems that nothing I do pleases my manager. If a do something with detail, it is "too much detail", and if I don't use enough detail it's "not enough detail". And I am just trying to figure out my next steps (which of course includes applying for other jobs).

At this point, should I:

a) sit down with my manager and ask him how he feels about my performance thus far and if anything can be improved?
or
b) try somehow to get the MD above him (who hired me) to see the value I have been adding without pissing off my manager (eg, my math, modeling, and foreign language skills are stronger than my managers but he knows the business so we actually do make a good combo)?

I feel I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I need this job. And I see that they are collecting resumes for full time positions (which is weird because of the dangle they gave me, referenced above). I worry if I don't assert myself soon, I feel my manager will tell the MD I am not a good "fit", simply because he does not like me. If I go above his head and try to let the MD know what I have been working on, I can't imagine that will go over well. I know people said there are no secrets, but I really think the MD has no idea what is going on.

I am a highly ethical person and I think that is what is really bothering me the most: the feeling of being treated unfairly when I am behaving in an ethical manner and doing the best job I can do. I'm down to earth, want to be part of a team, and just want to add value. Hell, I don't even care what I get paid as long as I feel I am learning!

So a) Are there just certain types of managers that just *want* people to fail? Sounds crazy, but that's where I feel like I am at

and

b) why would they continue to recruit full time when they told me that if the business went well I could stay? Are companies really that unethical? Am I just too trusting?

mfculbert's picture

One of my first professional jobs I was hired by a committee. My direct manager called me into his office in the first week and told me, point blank, that he did not want to hire me but that the committee hired me. I was too young to take the hint. I worked my tail off and was never able to satisfy his needs. Within a year I was released and the person he wanted to hire was in the job.

If your direct supervisor does not want you to work there then it is time to find a new job. It is not "fair." It is not fun but I believe it is a reality that none of us can escape. At the very best,  your boss's boss can use his role power to hire you full time. I don't think it will be a winning situation even if that were to happen.

I encourage you to sit down and have a frank discussion with your manager. Ask if he wants you there for longer than the summer position. If not is he willing to allow you time to find a new position. This will be a time that really challenges your professionalism but I believe it is the most ethical path you can take.

Regarding the gathering of other resumes, you see a behavior. You are assuming an intent. It is not possible to know the real reason they are doing what they are doing unless you ask directly. They could be dealing falsely with you. They could have a perfectly just reason for collecting resumes. Stick with behaviors as much as you can and try to not connect intentions.

Best of luck!

HomerJJ's picture

Well... a thanks to all who posted and another update. Things got worse. :-(

I worked hard all summer. Even got sent on an important business trip when the other analyst called in sick. I was treated just like a regular employee. Then, yesterday, I sent an email to my MD regarding an update about my situation. We ended up having lunch together where he basically told me that the chance of me getting hired fulltime was very small. Why? Well, according to him, they want to keep overhead down AND he is not sure I am a good fit (after 4 months). But I suspect the real reason is because the analyst and associate who I mentioned above dinged me.

My feedback was generally good, a few things I needed to work on, but good. Everyone liked me, except those two I mentioned above who said I was "too slow" and "used too many words when communicating". I'm supposed to wait until next week to get the official word, but I am just tempted to resign right now. I feel like I have been used from day one, and that they never had any intention of hiring me. When I think of the six interviews I went on, the countless late nights, the last minute travel, the lack of training or feedback until the last minute, I want to scream. I went above and beyond and got nothing in return.

So my question is: was I just a fool waiting to be taken advantage of? How to get over this feeling of being used up and spit out?

The sad thing is, I think the MD condones and even encourages this behavior. He alluded to *maybe* wanting to continue on a part time basis (I suspect until they find someone better), but right now I feel so sick thinking about the whole thing, that I don't know if a clean break is best. On one hand, I need all the experience I can get. On the other hand, I am starting to realize this position is a revolving door for cheap labor. What to do? Why is he dragging it out like this?

buhlerar's picture

Of course it would be nice if all your hard work was appreciated and the company decided to invest in you full-time, but it might be a bit short-sighted to say you got nothing in return.

  • Did you learn anything you can use in the future?
  • Did you have any accomplishments you can use on your resume?
  • Did you expand your network (you never know when you might cross paths with someone there in the future)?
  • Did they pay you?

Quit focusing on the 6 interviews (as if that provided any value to the employer that they should reward you for).  And forget about the overtime (they paid you for that -- maybe less than you wish they'd paid, but what you agreed to).  Sounds like the full-time job was a dangle, and also sounds like they acted in a way that at least had the appearance of impropriety.  On the other hand, there are bosses all over the world who find fault with everything their employees do.  And there are businesses that need workers but maybe don't have enough money to pay for them (or choose to keep the wrong ones if they have to cut back).  And honestly, there could be some totally legitimate & ethical reasons for the things you're seeing.

Hard work and financial reward are related, but only loosely.  Your best bet is always to do  your best work, but there are a lot of factors you can't control.  Don't focus on those factors -- your work product and your network are controllable and will pay off over time.  Keep investing in both.  In the meantime, it certainly sounds like you should be looking for another job.  You asked why he's dragging this out -- I would assume he's signalling so you have time to find another job before he's absolutely forced to cut you.  Keep working hard and maintaining a professional demeanor -- situations change -- but definitely prepare yourself for a pink slip.

HomerJJ's picture

Really good advice. It's hard to detach because I really invested a lot of myself, but everything you said makes perfect sense. Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful, and even headed response.

vonigan's picture

 Interesting read - more notes suggested:

IF you get the pink slip, remember then (it will be harder than before) to remain professional. Don't "do the damage" you can do before leaving. Remember that the other people you have collaborated with (other persons outside of your direct chain of command, customers that you associated with on the important meeting) will be watching, and they may have a better idea of the truth behind the situation. It's important to display to them as possible future employers that you can act professionally in the worst of circumstances. Thank them for the time you shared with them, and if possible, make sure to get their contact information, so you can keep in touch with them (then follow up on the six-month). This should apply even to your boss - hey, he might start listening to MT and make a change for the better!

Also, this should stand out to you: "too slow" and "used too many words when communicating". This should be your own feedback to enhance your communication model. Have a look at your DISC profile (or do one if you haven't). Maybe you're a high-C, whereas your boss is a high-D? In your future career, you will need to be able to communicate effectively to high-Ds, so use the remaining time you have at your present company to work on that. You'll be gaining communication experience that will be necessary. For this, suggest: BLUF - Bottom Line Up Front - High D/Is like that kinda stuff. And if your boss is a High D&C, then your detailed work that's done to back up your BLUF will then have a chance to shine through. Remember as well to keep them in the loop with progress, and don't gather everything to make sure it's superbly perfect at the expense of being on time - that would frustrate a High D/I (thus the 'too slow' comment).

Last note: Remember that human instinct is self preservation. You manager may be threatened by your abilities that exceed his. If things are going sour, and it's him (as your supervisor) or you, then there's no good reason for him to choose you over himself (at least in his mind). If he's a High D/C, and you were in a meeting in which you spoke the native language and didn't let him do the talking through you (that is - you did the talking and only relayed the conversation after), he may have been easily offended (and threatened) by this.

Good luck!!