By Deb Kloeppel, Founder and President, CASY-MSCCN
This story will probably resonate with many men and women in the workplace. It’s a true story that occurred just a month ago involving my sister’s accounting position at a well-known firm in Southern Illinois. After five years of dedicated and competent service (not a sick day or personal day taken), my sister was told that the executive job she was next in line to fill would be given to a much younger female, who held a higher educational degree.
Because my sister’s boss only gave a month’s notice of retirement (after 32 years of service to this firm) the powers-that-be made the decision to hire outside of their company with a much younger, and higher “degreed” female, who never held a management position in her life. My sister was heartbroken, embarrassed and utterly mystified that her organization hired an outsider, twenty years her junior, who possessed zero experience as a leader.
Marie (not my sister’s real name) came directly to me for advice and counsel, given my 30 years of executive experience in the private and nonprofit sector.
I asked Marie the following questions about her job status, two weeks after the new boss took over:
- Did Marie’s job function change at all? No.
- Did Marie ever claim Workman’s Comp? No.
- Did Marie’s pay decrease or increase? No.
- Was the title that Marie elevated for five years change? No.
- Did her boss send Marie to a smaller office or an office on another floor? No.
- The most important question of ALL when a person’s boss is replaced with an outsider:
Did the new boss bring another (new) person into the department as an underling, chief of staff, EA or PA? No.
When Marie answered no to all of these questions, I sighed a breath of relief and informed my sister that she had dodged a career bullet. I said, “Marie, the best way to get yourself fired is to accept a job you aren’t prepared to take on because of an ego-driven impulse. I admire corporations and organizations which recognize that promotions shouldn’t be automatic to the ‘next guy in line’ when a succession plan isn’t put into play for at least a year.”
I saw the spark come into Marie’s eyes again. She knew I was right. The best way to lose a job you’re really good at performing, is to accept a promotion impulsively as the “next guy in line”.
Rule of Thumb: Great workers get fired over promotions they are not prepared to take on in their professional life.
The Gen-Trend Hiring ™ Practice – Bad Business
There is a second and more sinister reason corporations bring in younger, less experienced managers to a team.
Gen-trend hiring brings in younger outsiders, who possess the specific credentials and qualifications for a job. What they lack however, is one ounce of experience in a manager’s role, thus setting up the older and more experienced worker, next in line to become the manager, to worry constantly about job loss.
Gen-trend hiring purposely brings down the morale and motivation of the older worker to continue on his or her path of promotion and higher pay. Worried workers almost never ask for raises or promotions.
Young Gen-Trend Managers are a Cheap Workforce
Why are so many employers engaging in Gen-Trend Hiring? Economics! Gen-trend sets up a really cheap workforce, filled with experienced older workers very afraid to lose their duties to a younger manager. In fact, most Gen-Trend hiring forces older workers to TRAIN their younger bosses to perform jobs the older workers can do in their sleep.
Once the younger (and cheaper to pay) outsider boss learns the job of the older underling, the obvious happens: the older worker is either laid off or shoved in the basement until the working conditions become unbearable.
How to be Victorious when passed over or replaced in the workplace
No matter your age – you will one day be replaced or passed over for something professionally. Albeit a client who goes elsewhere, or a job given to someone else, when you’re the obvious next-in-line manager.
What “work-coach” counsel did I give Marie to handle her career pass-over experience?
- Shake the new bosses hand and welcome her in front of all other co-workers: then go back to your desk and focus only on your work.
- Do not talk negatively about the new boss – ever.
- Keep your head down, mouth shut and do the work you love to do
- Remain super-civil to your new boss and tightly closed-mouth to coworkers – hourly.
- In a formal note (hand-written) let the new boss know that you are available anytime to answer questions or assist the new boss acclimate to their work-life surroundings.
- Don’t become the boss’s friend – this will back-fire big time.
- No lunches or dinners with the new boss for a year
- Remain the go-to person with your boss and coworkers
Allow me to provide the happy ending to my sister’s story: Marie was given a raise in pay due to her indispensable assistance to her new boss’s professional life.
After six months, Marie’s organization calculated they actually paid double what their budget called for when hiring the new manager, due to her lack of experience and extensive training she needed to complete her duties as upper management.
Because Marie trained her boss so well, the organization REVERSED their roles and Marie is now the (new) boss with experience and a proven track record. The previous manager is thriving under Marie’s leadership.