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A career path stifled by a common company policy

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Q: “My manager says she wants to help me get promoted, but she doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it. For the past two years, she has said that my position should be reclassified as an assistant director. However, our company requires assistant directors to have people reporting to them, and I don’t have any employees.

“When I first came to work here, I supervised five people, but now I’m in a program manager position which has no staff. If my boss truly cared about my advancement, I believe she would either get an exception made to the policy or reorganize to give me some employees. What can I do about this?” Held Back

A: A direct, but diplomatic, conversation with your boss should allow you to assess her level of commitment to your career. During this discussion, do not become irritated or accusatory. You are simply asking her to help you accomplish a goal which she has said she supports.

For example: “I know you feel that I should be an assistant director, but company policy seems to make that difficult. Since getting this promotion is really important to me, I wonder if we could discuss the obstacles and how we might overcome them.”

If this leads to an exploration of promotional strategies, you can mention the possibility of a reorganization or policy exception. But if your boss seems reluctant to consider specific options, then she is unlikely to become a strong advocate for your cause.

Having trouble getting promoted? You might find the reason here: Nine Ways to Kill Your Chances of Promotion.

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