What's your problem?

I joined my company over a year ago. My line manager left on maternity leave and her assistant resigned. I was promoted to acting manager, which I've been doing for a year. However, they are now dissolving my original role, and my line manager is due back.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I've been reassured that I will have a job in the company, but I fear it will be something more junior or inappropriate to my skills. I feel I stepped into the breach in a time of need, and made a brilliant job of transforming the department. I am curious as to what the company is actually obliged to offer me. I feel, even if they are not 'obliged' to do much at all, that they should at least value my contribution. How should I address the situation?

A: I have a feeling, which may be unjustified, that you've allowed understandable uncertainty to fester into almost obsessive apprehension. It's thoughtless of your company, and bad management practice, to have given you so little solid information about their plans for your future - but you mustn't let that get to you. Most of your concern, it seems to me, springs from your own internal speculation: from those inside-the-head conversations that can be particularly scary at three o'clock in the morning.

Looked at factually, all that has happened so far is that you've been told that you'll still have a job to go to. Your conviction that your past contribution has been under-recognised and your suspicion that the next job will be beneath you have between them fostered a sense of injustice - and even early signs of truculence. If any of this shows, particularly if it turns out that your anxieties are baseless, it will do you no favours.

So you should seek another meeting with whomever it was who reassured you about your next, unspecified, job. Don't allow any of your wilder worries to surface. Under no circumstances imply that your company is 'obliged' to do anything for you. And it may very well be that they can't yet be any more specific about your future. But you're certainly entitled to a formal assessment of your performance over the past year and you should ask for that politely.

If your company shares your own view that you've done a brilliant job, it seems most unlikely that they'll fob you off with an insultingly lowly offer. If, on the other hand, there seems to be something of a discrepancy between your company's estimate of your value and your own, it's as well that you should be aware of that, too.

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