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A new twist on life at work
3

A new twist on life at work

A new twist on life at work

(OP)
I find myself in a position that I would have never thought I would be in.  After 28 years with the same company, I am now told to get initials behind my name or certifications before I am worthy of a promotion.

A little history.
Recently our associate director was made director. This was due to our director of 30 years retiring.  I have always thought of this person and myself as friends not just co workers. Through the years our families have done a lot of things away from work together. Talking about our spouses and kids is just what we have done for the last 25 years.  But now things have changed.
Recently our CFO has told this person to promote me. This is their direct boss.  I was asked to meet with this person to discuss what could be done for me.  How going into a meeting to talk about a pay raise went from a joyous occasion to never feeling so belittled in my life, I still can't believe this actually happened.

My new director has paid her dues not only being here for about the same amount of time to also getting several degrees along the way. I understand that she dedicated a lot of time in doing this. Until now she has always had to do my upgrades in pay even though I have made more money than her until this point. Our meeting was one of the most horrible things I have ever gone though. I think part of it was that I considered this person a friend. Another part is that I have also paid my dues by doing whatever this company/department has asked of me and more.  365/7x24 for 24 years.

Our meeting was basically "I know I shouldn't hold an employee back, But Damn it, I had to get a degree" You should get training or initials behind your name. This went on and on.  I sat in complete disbelief.  I was also somewhat threatened that if I were to go to her boss, that the new position would have to be posted and they could possibly find someone "more qualified" than me to fill it.  Later that day I got an email from her " I will continue looking into options" I think more of a CYA trail than anything.

Today
Today I am (have been for a couple of months) doing what is necessary to prepare us for a major upgrade.  I am doing my best to keep a positive attitude and trying to focus on what needs to be done.  Although I still do whatever needs to be done (that's just me) and have friendly conversations with this person, it will never be the same.  As an employee, I will do as I always done. My job and lots more.

But for the first time I do not really know where I stand or what to expect.  I have a couple more years here and I can retire. Although I still love what I do and planned on working here another 10 if possible.

How should I handle this? If you can't tell, this is really bothering me and I would hate to leave here with so many years invested. Your thoughts would really be appreciated..

Thanks
 

When is the last time you helped someone, just because you were able to?

For the best response to a question, read FAQ690-6594: How to ask the best questions and site policies
 
 
 

RE: A new twist on life at work

It may be time to get out of your comfort zone and take some classes. Ask your new boss (former contemporary) which degrees or certifications you might pursue that would be a 'fit' for your background and most valuable to the company. Classes one or two evenings a week, or one or two Saturdays a month, might be a good investment of your time, and let you meet new people, widen your horizons.
Do the research now, and plan to start when your current major upgrade project is complete. You'll be glad you did!

Fred Wagner

  

RE: A new twist on life at work

Wow.  Although I don't have any advice for you at the moment, this is exactly why I do not socialize with anyone from work.  I'll go to lunch with my co-workers or my manager, but I won't meet them after work for a drink.  And going to lunch together is a *rare* occurance.

Was anyone else present in the meeting where you were told to obtain a certification/degree?  Does your present job description mention the requirement for certification?

Based on your participation in the Avaya forums, I can't imagine that obtaining certs would be any effort for you, but I don't think that's the point here.

Susan
Muffins are just ugly cupcakes.

RE: A new twist on life at work

Sounds like a variation of class envy.  Are you being expected to pay for the training out of your own pocket?  

Obviously, training is always good, but if you're close to retirement, where's the ROI for you?  From the sound of it, she's been told to promote you, is jealous and may be looking for a justification not to. I don't envy your situation.

Jeff
It's never too early to begin preparing for International Talk Like a Pirate Day
"The software I buy sucks,  The software I write sucks.  It's time to give up and have a beer..." - Me

RE: A new twist on life at work

This is a tough situation alright.  First, let me say that I think you have learned a hard lesson about work being about work and not being a place to find friends.  Unfortunately, I think this situation is going to haunt both your "friendship" and your work relationship for some time to come.  It is completely understandable why you are upset.

As I re-read your post and try to pondering things, I can't help but wonder (i.e. suspect) that there is some underlying resentment at play here on the part of your director.  I also wonder if there is some degree of perceived gender in-equality at play here.  What I mean by this is the director being female, perceiving that they have had to work harder than you to get where they are and that they resent this. I get the impression that she knows she (possibly) overstepped her bounds with some statements and I agree that the "looking into options" is a CYA tactic.

Unfortunately, unless you can prove that you 'earned' the promotion that you were supposed to get and have some how been discriminated against, I doubt there is little official recourse for you.  Going down this road would undoubtedly make a bad situation worse in any regard.  In my opinion, your best and safest route may be to force the issue and have the position requirements spelled out and then determine if you meet the requirements.  You could then apply for the position and if it turns to a discussion of your requirements, you could then negotiate on or discuss a development path to meet the requirements.  At a minimum, I think your conscience would be clear and that you would know that you earned and received the promotion in your own right, rather than because of some backroom maneuvering and dealing.  If you decided to go this route, I would take this to your director as your official position and not go the "end run" approach as was alluded to with the veiled threat.

I know that these kinds of situations can be extremely demoralizing.  I have faced plenty of those situations in the past.  The best thing you can do in the short run is try to keep a positive attitude and do your job, as difficult as that may feel at times.  That alone will say a lot about you when it comes to evaluating your suitability for promotion.
 

RE: A new twist on life at work

I believe the expression was coined in the seventies;
'certification as legitimation'.

Nothing wrong with taking a course or two. My brother ended up hearing the same thing in reverse. He had his B.A. Commerce. After 15 years, he went to a head hunter who basically told him he'd been raped. The company he worked for had not provided or encouraged any further educational opportunity for him to advance his skillsets. His degree was stale. Letters after the name looked pretty but meant nothing. It's a pretty shallow director who can't see past them.

In a completely different field, I guest lecture at a university. I don't have a degree. I was offered an honorary one to lend legitimacy to my presence but I refused it. I didn't acquire my experience or knowledge or love of the field there so why would I have to appear that it did to the students? I believe the answer is they were justifying their existence, not mine.



 

KE407122
'Who is this guy named Lo Cel and why does he keep paging me?'

RE: A new twist on life at work

(OP)
I guess the one thing that really weighs hard on me here is the CFO pressed for this. That really made me feel good as I have a lot of respect for this person and evidently the feeling is mutual. He knows me and has a good idea of what I do here. So I went into this meeting proud and came out felling like a "lessor person". This because i did not have a degree she felt i should have to be promoted to the level her boss told her to promote me to.

As for training, their is not a degree for what I do. Taking care telephone systems requires you to wear many hats.

When is the last time you helped someone, just because you were able to?

For the best response to a question, read FAQ690-6594: How to ask the best questions and site policies
 
 
 

RE: A new twist on life at work

You do phone systems, so there must be some kind of credential you can acquire, either from a key vendor, or a local college or technical institute, that will give you  paper credibility with people who prefer that. Check in the Telecom forums here, or with your local colleges. If you the college route, you will be able to 'test out' on a bunch of courses - CLEP Testing is the term, so a certificate or diploma may not be as far away as you think. In your situation, I'd stay away from the Microsoft or CompTIA courses and credentials, go for something more general, where your decades of experience apply. Something in 'Telecommunications Management' perhaps. Check your local college and university extension course catalogs. University of Phoenix, and other colleges offering primarily online courses, may have something to offer also.

Fred Wagner

  

RE: A new twist on life at work

Just reading between the lines, she is trying to separate herself from you.  She doesn't real want you promoted, because she prefers to have you subordinate to her.  She could have promoted you and said that she would recommend you get this or that training or what ever?   These are situations that can get really tricky.   She may be fearful that you will out shine her if you move up with her.

Jim C.
 

RE: A new twist on life at work

I re-read your post and this time it's clear Noway and Jim are both right. She resents you: you made more than her even though she got the degree.  Because of that she may also feel threatened:  If her boss told her to promote you, who says he won't replace her with you at some point?  It's hard to know what others are really thinking.

Jeff
It's never too early to begin preparing for International Talk Like a Pirate Day
"The software I buy sucks,  The software I write sucks.  It's time to give up and have a beer..." - Me

RE: A new twist on life at work

(OP)
I guess that's what really prompted me to post this. I don't know what to expect. I am trying hard to keep the right mindset and go on with my career here as though nothing has happened. I have more than enough to do to keep me busy and have put in a lot of years here. I would like to outlast her and stay on she after she is gone in a couple of years.

At least that's what I am trying/would like to do.   

When is the last time you helped someone, just because you were able to?

For the best response to a question, read FAQ690-6594: How to ask the best questions and site policies
 
 
 

RE: A new twist on life at work

I work in Telecom as well.

Is this a possibility for you?
It's been open to me for a number of years to challenge the CET (Certified Engineering Technologist) designation based on 28 years of telecom certifications (Key/PBX/ACD) and work experience (Outside, inside, aerial, underground, etc). I believe I'd have to challenge the ethics exam and write a thesis paper but the membership would allow me to put C.E.T. at the end of my name and wear their ring on the third finger of my working hand.

Pursuing the poisoned workplace aspect or gender issue is a dead end. At a director's level---the CFO won't touch that one with a 10 foot pole and you'd find yourself out the door today with two years salary to carry through until your retirement kicks in.


 

KE407122
'Who is this guy named Lo Cel and why does he keep paging me?'

RE: A new twist on life at work

When your new boss tells you that you can only get a promotion if you get a certification, and you want the promotion, then there's only one thing to do:  suck it up and get the certification.  Certification exams aren't that difficult, especially when you have so many years of experience under your belt.

Now as far as your "friendship" with this person goes, that may be a different matter.  Not knowing all of the details it's hard to say for sure, but it sounds like they WANT you to get the promotion.  But they want you to go one step further to get it, and it sounds like you assumed that you were just going to get it on the basis of what you had already done.  Sometimes that's the way things go when your friend ends up being your boss.

Quote:

Was anyone else present in the meeting where you were told to obtain a certification/degree?  Does your present job description mention the requirement for certification?

It's not for his current position, it's for a promotion.  And it's not that uncommon for an employer to say "we want you to move into this new position, but you need some official qualifications first."  I've had that conversation with my boss before too, and so I went out and earned a stack of certifications and moved up in the company.  For everyone jumping on the "she resents you" bandwagon, that's an awfully sweeping declaration to make based on a few sentences showing one side of the story from someone who doesn't know exactly what to make of what's happened.

And while the CFO pushed for the promotion (or suggested perhaps?), do you know for a fact that the CFO knows all of your qualifications?  I've had senior management recommend me for positions that I wasn't qualified for, even though they thought that I must have been based on my contributions.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it seems like you're letting the "friendship" issue color your perception of your job responsibilities.

________________________________________
CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+, Security+
MCTS:Windows 7
MCSE:Security 2003
MCITP:Server Administrator
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator
MCITP:Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2
Certified Quest vWorkspace Administrator

RE: A new twist on life at work

The thing is, if you get a cert, will she actually promote you or find another reason to push you back.   

RE: A new twist on life at work

kmcferrin,

I would agree that certain positions sometime simply require certs and that's the way it is even if you could do the job without them.  But, if the boss said "damn it, I had to get a degree", that sounds like resentment to me.  If the degree/cert requirement is not formally documented, then what the boss had to do to get where they are is irrelevant to what someone else might have to do.

In this case the resentment may be relevant or it may be a side issue.  It certainly sounds like it's there and from the tone of the situation conveyed by mikeydidit, it sounds to me like it is an influential factor in her request.

Jeff
It's never too early to begin preparing for International Talk Like a Pirate Day
"The software I buy sucks,  The software I write sucks.  It's time to give up and have a beer..." - Me

RE: A new twist on life at work

Your new director seems to wrap up her entire self worth in her degrees.  She has all these credentials, you have none, and yet you have earned more than her at times, gotten raises and promotions along with her and have a relationship with the CFO that threatens her.  She's laboring under the impression that her degrees set her apart from you (read that as better/more valuable than you) and yet you have continued to be as equally successful within the company as she has.  Now she's saying "if you want to share the success, you are going to have to do it my way".  I guess you are going to have to figure out how far you are willing to go to accomadate her and decide from there.  Those are questions only you are going to be able to answer.
I do wish you luck.

Paul     

RE: A new twist on life at work

(OP)
All

I really appreciate everyone bouncing perspectives/ideas off me on this. I think this has somewhat helped me deal with whats going on.

Part of the problem is the same things most of you go through i am sure. She doesn't know what it is that I do.

I really feel like if i keep doing what I do, I can stay here longer than she will be. She plans on retiring in a couple of years also. If I stay like I intended to, then things will be different. Not sure if it will be better, but different.  

When is the last time you helped someone, just because you were able to?

For the best response to a question, read FAQ690-6594: How to ask the best questions and site policies
 
 
 

RE: A new twist on life at work

I second the motion from KE407122 - get the CET certification, accept the promotion, and keep on doing good work. And find opportunities to show others what it is that you do - in small bites - practice your 'elevator speech' so that people know that the wonderful world of telecom in your organization isn't accidental, you had a significant part in making it happen. Perhaps there's an internal newsletter in your organization that could do a feature on your part of IT. Don't be overpowering, but don't be shy.

Fred Wagner

  

RE: A new twist on life at work

What type of promotion is it?  Are you going from a tech roll to a management position or just a higher level tech roll?  Will you be happy in this new position?

I agree with those saying to have your boss list out what certs to get and if you still want the promotion go for it if it is worth your time.

I wouldn't count on your boss retiring when you think she might.  I've known many people who work long after they thought to retired.


Stubnski

RE: A new twist on life at work

Wow indeed. I found this a very difficult post to read to be honest.

I think my instinct is that there are chips on your directors shoulders. Now, if the CEO thinks you merit a promotion, then hey. I would want to clarify what certs she believes to be necessary to fulfill the new role for you; and I'd also (probably quietly) be thinking that yes - she got a degree. That's (partly) why she's now a director. As far as I can see that isn't where your promotion would take you, so clarifying what certs she would require seems like a sensible bet.

But, I would bear in mind that you love what you do and where you do it; so don't let this ruin it for you. This was one conversation. Look for the half-full glass rather than the half-empty one.

Fee

"The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea." Isak Dinesen

RE: A new twist on life at work

Thanks Fred, Thanks Mikey and good luck.

http://www.oacett.org

This thread was enough inspiration for me to finish the process to get my C.E.T. I guess being an NCSS (Nortel Certified Support Specialist) is about the same as saying, "I clean the lifeboats on the Titanic."  

KE407122
'Who is this guy named Lo Cel and why does he keep paging me?'

RE: A new twist on life at work

Mikey -
Just a thought - if your organization hasn't moved into VOIP yet, investigate it yourself with the vendors and your networking staff, see if it would be a fit for your organization, what the costs and benefits would be. This could be a chance for you to take a leadership role, and your extensive background would help you evaluate proposals and forsee problems and develop solutions in advance. You'd likely have the opportunity for training and certifications as part of the new technology. If someone else is already working on this, be sure to become part of the team.

Fred Wagner

  

RE: A new twist on life at work

(OP)
Fred thats the exact direction I am trying to carry us. We are about the upgrade to Avaya's 8800 series servers running CM 5.2.1. Part of this adding Modular messaging and Exchange integration. (Three new 8800 servers) SAL (system access link) another 8800 server, two 8800's for CM 5, SIP (another 8800) and a AES server for a total of eight new servers. I am also upgrading our call recording server and adding channels to it. So I have a lot to learn and do.

I think as part of my legacy here, i would like to have a nice mix of IP, soft consoles and digital sets. I still have EPN cabinets that I need to cut to G650 gateways. This all installed and working before i leave here. Although I self maintain here (and have for years) I haven't been to class on any of the new servers. Looks like a great time to do that though.
 

When is the last time you helped someone, just because you were able to?

For the best response to a question, read FAQ690-6594: How to ask the best questions and site policies
 
 
 

RE: A new twist on life at work

Mikey,

If the CFO wants you promoted, then your new boss is going directly against the CFO's wishes.

You absolutely should speak to the CFO and ask if the conditions your boss added are part of the equation as he/she laid it out. You may want to do this privately, but that is up to you.

I've seen similar things - people who spent the money and time for a degree or certification suddenly start insisting that everyone should get them - whether or not that makes sense from a business perspective. (Sometimes it makes sense - sometimes it does not.)

Degrees and certifications are nice, but not always necessary.

Greg
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. Kierkegaard

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