Dear Management Doctor:
I'd like to hear your quick comments, if you have time. I'm 54 years old, and have worked in the same county planning department for almost 25 years. I've always taken pride in doing quality work, I don't draw attention to myself, and I stay away from office politics. I have not been promoted for 22 years, although I prepare thoroughly for each interview. Job promotions are going to young workers (to encourage them), and to socially established older workers (who don't apply themselves seriously to work).
I'm in "professional hell." I need the income to support my family, and finding work elsewhere means losing a good retirement package. There's no motivation to keep working hard. All the wisdom in the department's strategic plan about the value of motivating and developing good staff seems to be ignored. Any ideas?
Dear Dead Zone,
WOW! Unfortunately I see your situation in too many planning departments. You present a difficult challenge and I may need more information to be of great help. I would be happy to have a confidential telephone conversation with you to brain storm some ideas. In the meantime:
The Management Doctor
Great advice as usual. I hope it helps this person advance and find satisfaction in their work. Keep up the good work.
What I have experienced is the adverse influence of an "office clique."
When I was hired by a planning department about 25 years ago I was a new employee, with good experience and a determination to do well. At the department that I joined was a new "female planners clique" that was starting to assert itself. It included men who were viewed as "not a threat." This clique was supported by a planning director who enjoyed women's company, and was attracted to a certain new female employee who was hired at the same time that I was. It also had the support of an aggressive female supervisor, who used a frantic "put out the fires" approach to office work. The result was an endless series of fires handled by a determined supervisor and a "clique" that she relied on carry out her orders. They pampered her ego and put themselves before other employees.
Many other employees also worked hard, but were unnoticed. The current planning director brought with him a more organized approach to case management, and he ended "favoritism" in the job evaluation process. But favoritism still lingers in the job interview & promotion process.