My attempt to climb the ladder backfired

Nine To Five: Special to The Globe and Mail, Published Sunday, April 12, 2015


I was trying to move up at work and asked my boss whether I could supervise clerical staff. He approved, but the staff did not want to be supervised and went to human resources. HR then said I couldn’t supervise other clerical staff because I am also classified as clerical, on the same level.

My boss was apparently unaware of this situation, but hasn’t stuck up for me, implying that I kept information from him when I pushed for a position I am not classified to do.

I try hard to do my job but have lost credibility. I see no prospect for moving up as management now views me as toxic when it comes to supervising others. Everyone in the office hates me, even though I have tried to explain to colleagues that I just wanted to get a promotion.

I love my job but hate the turn of events. I just want things to go back to the way they were before. How can I get rid of this cloud over my head and get my co-workers to see that I’m not try to backstab them?


We are, unfortunately, judged by our actions, not our intentions. Without an official promotion, one doesn’t usually just start supervising a peer group.

Clear up matters with your manager as soon as possible. Explain exactly what your intentions were in supervising others and how you approached your colleagues. Ask for his advice and support on mending your relationship with your peers. (Asking people for advice makes them feel important and part of the solution.) Also check with HR to see what they suggest.

You have probably built bridges and trust with your colleagues over the years. Now is the time to ask for that “benefit of the doubt” to be shown.

Write a succinct letter to the team apologizing for whatever you did that has upset them. Then, speak to them one to one so you can read their body language and discuss their individual concerns. Work on winning the team over one by one.

In the meantime, look for leadership opportunities in and out of the office.

Take a course and read books on supervision. Practice self-leadership, become an example. Volunteer in your community or on an internal committee that requires a supervisory component. Prepare your résumé with these new leadership skills and start looking for advanced opportunities where you will be appreciated.

Colleen Clarke

Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It

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