What's your problem?

I was promoted to spares manager in my engineering job, and the spares business performance improved.The company was then restructured and my role abolished, and I was moved elsewhere.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The job is now being reintroduced, but they have offered the position to a former employee who has returned from travelling. The work atmosphere is now bad, many of my colleagues feel I should have got my original job back, and that effort and hard work are not rewarded properly. Performance is suffering as a result of this ill feeling. I feel I should move on, but I don't want to make a knee-jerk reaction. What do you think?

A: I'm far from certain what I think. It's all a little mysterious. If your account of events is objectively accurate, your management has shown itself to be incompetent on at least three counts. They failed to recognise the improvement in the spares business under your guidance; they abolished the role itself, which quickly turned out to be a mistake; and finally, when reintroducing it, they've sidelined the individual (you) who, on record, seems the most qualified to run it.

If all this is true, then considered reflection rather than knee-jerk reaction should certainly prompt you to look around.

Before you make that decision, however, may I suggest a bit of brutal self-examination? Was the improvement in the spares business under your management as clearly apparent and significant as you have come to believe?

Was it ever formally recognised and recorded? Then you should question the motives of your sympathetic colleagues. They encourage you to believe that you've been hard done by, but are you absolutely certain of their sincerity? It's a human and mostly admirable instinct to try to bolster the confidence of a disappointed colleague - even when it involves a certain stretching of the truth.

You may emerge from this painful process with your faith in your own abilities more than confirmed. If that's the case, you should certainly start looking for a company more likely to appreciate them. There's just a chance, however, that you'll reluctantly come to realise that at least some part of your misfortune was self-determined. If this is the case, it makes your management's behaviour less inexplicable, and might just persuade you to shake off that enervating sense of injustice and put your heart into re-establishing yourself.

If you forced me to come off the fence, however, I think I'd have to say you'd be wise to go.


- Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of the Guardian Media Group; he is a non-executive director of WPP. Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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