Incompetent promoted over my head. Gah.

Normally this sort of thing would go into the Pit… but I’m just too jaded to work up some good vitriol.

Six months ago I started working at a new company. Aside from the other employees, the main characters in today’s drama are J (my immediate coworker), S (our superior), and G (S’ superior). Oh, and me.

Like I said, I’ve been here six months. J was hired on six months before I was. J’s fairly good at what he does, but he’s not great. Since he’s got seniority, he trained me- and, without bragging, I’m better than he is. He’s also been the one setting up the schedule for the two of us… and I’ve been ending up with the scutwork.

Now, normally, the fact that I’m better than him (and faster at the work as well) would be noticed by our supervisor. Unfortunately, S is a hands-off kind of manager- VERY hands-off. He refuses to make any sort of commitment, and, although he reviews our work every week, he doesn’t exactly manage, if you know what I mean. As a result, J’s and my work get combined into one pool, which is what G sees- and so he never sees that I do more work than J, or that my work is better.


So today I got called into a little meeting. It seems that J has been promoted to be my immediate supervisor. He’ll be scheduling our work, which is no big change- but now he’ll be signing off on all of my work.


Just yesterday I was looking at his work and just itching to improve it… but now I’m going to have to do stuff HIS way. Yeah, I know he’s got seniority… but that doesn’t mean that his work is inherently better than mine. I’ve already been feeling out of the loop… and I think it’s just going to get worse, now.

I’ve been thinking about having a talk with G and S, and letting them know that I’m not real happy with this, and that I already feel like I’m carrying J. Like I said, however, I’ve only been here six months, and I really don’t want to rock the boat anymore than I have to.


Ever hear of the Peter Principle?

First of all, being fairly good but not great is not a hallmark of incompetence.

Maybe S & G figure J is better suited for doing supervisor type stuff than you’re better suited for doing what it is you do. Maybe J said this is what he wants to do at the outset and he’s more qualified than you are somehow. Maybe he was just learning the ropes for a year before his inevitable rise to the top.

Besides, you’ve only been there six months. Do your job as best you can and if it looks like J is seriously screwing you somehow, then talk to S & G. IMO you shouldn’t get too worked up over it at this point.

There’s more to being a supervisor than just being able to work faster or better. In fact, if you think about it, if you’re the supervisor, the overall work might even get degraded because you’ll be saddled with supervisory duties, and J would be doing the bulk of the work. But you should definitely voice your disappointment to your previous boss about the events. Keeping things bottled up inside isn’t good for you or your firm. For sure you’ll feel better about it after speaking to S or G (preferably S first).

Hey…why shouldn’t you be promoted after 6 months? :rolleyes:

Ever hear of paying your dues and learning the ropes?

Well, which is it? “Good but not great” as you say here, or “Incompetent” as you say in the thread title? Frankly, your description of the situation makes it sound like you’re more upset at someone less talented getting promoted over you, than being upset that he’s not the right person for the job. I’m not just saying that to be nasty, but to point out that if it sounds like that to me, it’s going to sound like that to your boss as well.

From what you’ve described, there’s no indication whether this guy is better suited to a supervisory position than a creative one. What’s sometimes frustrating to realize is that the most talented people creatively do not always make the best managers – in fact, more often than not, they’re terrible managers. Maybe for the past year he’s been asking for a managerial position, and they started by having him schedule your work. Maybe he’s even said directly that he’s not as talented as the people doing the work and would be better suited as a manager.

My advice would be to make sure what’s really bugging you about the situation, if only so you can describe to your boss exactly how it’s affecting you and exactly how it’s bad for the project. It sounds as if you’re basing your qualifications for a supervisory position on your talent alone, but look at it from the flip side – do you like what you’re doing now, or would you rather be doing less of the creative work and more of the scheduling, management, and vetting tasks?

When there’s a real situation where lesser-quality work is getting into the final product because of a less-talented person making decisions, and you know that you’ve made a real defense of why your way is better but is getting left out of the final product because of a poor supervisory decision, that is the time to take it to your boss. I’d wait and see if that situation develops though. Until then, do good work and be ready to explain why it’s good and why your talent is going to help the project.

A few things to think about now, and more importantly make a little mental note for the future:

a) First off, being more qualified at your work doesn’t necessarily make you a better manager. It’s not a bad thing and can be a good thing, but it’s not necessarily mandatory. So, though you see yourself as more qualified, it’s possible your co-worker was actually the more qualified for the management position. Which leads us to…

b) One of the things that you need to do in management is organize other people. J was scheduling (i.e. organizing) you. Now. Did he step up to this himself, or did someone give him this role? Was it a role you could’ve played a bigger part in and possibly even taken over? That’s something important to think about for next time. Whatever lead up to things, when someone looked around for a manager, they saw J running things, and he looked like the right guy. Next time, make sure you are the guy running things.

c) Did J already know and interact with S and G more than you? Think of an organization as a big machine where one gear turns another gear that turns another and so on. S and G were looking for a gear they could turn to turn the department, and the one that already was meshing with them was J, making him the natural fit. Next time, make sure you’re meshing with the right gears.

d) I really recommend you don’t go complain about this. It’s already done. They’re not going to back out of it, and complaining only makes you look bad and puts them in a tough position. However, you should go talk to S and G and tell them you’re interested in management or other advancements, and ask their suggestions of what you can do to be the right person when the next position comes along. Very likely you’ll hear some of what I said in #b and #c: be the guy who runs things. Find ways you can add value by organizing things. Learn to influence other people; you don’t need a title to manage, and when you get there, you’ll be surprised to find that a title doesn’t really give you as much influence as you think. Influence comes from inside.

I think, of the responses in this thread, this is the one I’m going to take the most offense to.

It doesn’t bother me that J is now in charge of the schedule. It doesn’t bother me that he’s handling the tech aspects of the job. What bothers me is that J now believes that his job is to critique my work, and only after that happens, will the work be passed on up. In other words, whereas before my art was seen by two superiors, it’s now being seen by three- I’ve effectively been demoted.

Like I said, I’ve only been here six months- I certainly don’t expect a promotion. But why, if there aren’t any problems, would I be demoted?

I spoke to S today, and asked him if there were any problems with my work. He said that there wasn’t. If my work was fine before, why is it now being reviewed by J before anyone else sees it? He replied that that wasn’t what he’d intended- that he’d intended for J and I to review each other’s work, before it gets handed up, and that J’s new job was only to handle scheduling and tech.

I’d talked to J the day before, and that wasn’t his impression- in his mind, he’s now my superior in all aspects of the job.

In other words, J is trying to get himself into a management position. And, according to some other people I’ve talked to here, this isn’t the first time he’s tried this.

I’m not exaggerating when I say my work is better than his is. I’ve been told this by several of our coworkers. If someone’s going to be critiquing my work, I want that person to be a better artist than I am.

My solution, which I started today, was to just critique his work as well. I talked to S to make sure that I wasn’t overstepping my bounds, and now that I know I’m not, I’m not going to let J promote himself at my expense.

I don’t see how you have been “demoted.”

Is your pay being cut? Has your job title been changed? If not, there’s been no demotion.

That’s what a supervisor does.

Yes, that is what ambitious professionals do. They seek out more responsibility.