Eventual promotion often reward for initiative

Dear Joan:

I am what I guess you could call a low-level manager in my office, a position I attained after starting several years ago at the bottom. I found that as my bosses became more and more confident in me, they asked me, as a lower-rung employee, to tackle jobs that low-level and mid-level management are to perform. While these jobs are not beyond my skill level, they are jobs that normally fetch a higher salary for someone who is a full-time manager.


While on the one hand, I felt I was “paying my dues” and helping my coworkers and company by agreeing to take these jobs, I always felt it was not fair for my managers to ask me to do their jobs, when it was convenient for them, without offering me the pay rate a manager would make. Of course, I always had my own work to do, and these requests often came without notice.


Whenever I objected to my various managers and supervisors about being asked to do a higher level of work—in addition to my own—without any pay increase, special pay rate or any reward whatsoever, I got the same response: “That’s just the way it’s always been,” as if that made it right.


Now that I am in a low-level management position, after being the only applicant for the job, I see my coworkers at the entry level being asked to do the same management-type work, with no compensation. I feel sorry for them. How can I help them get what they have coming to them, when they are put in a similar situation as I was?



You did get rewarded for doing extra-- you got promoted. Why feel sorry for employees who are stepping up to do more? If they do extra, they could build their skills, beef up their resume and get promoted, too.


You haven’t given any examples of the kinds of “higher level work” you and others are being asked to do. For example, if supervisors are asking employees to speak with their peers about poor performance, or asking employees to conduct performance reviews or hold disciplinary meetings, I agree that would be out of line.


But if the supervisors are asking employees or teams to do some of the following, I think that is not only appropriate but also healthy. It allows the employees to actively participate in running the business and growing personally.


·        Create work schedules

·        Interview potential peers

·        Give the manager input into peers’ performance reviews

·        Conduct occasional meetings

·        Train/mentor co-workers

·        Lead projects


Most businesses don’t compensate people in a piecemeal fashion for taking on tasks outside of their job descriptions. More today than ever before, people are expected to take on responsibilities that are outside strict boundaries. If those responsibilities consistently exceed the job description by around twenty percent, then a job re-evaluation is warranted. Obviously, there are situations where a bonus is warranted for stepping up to run a major project or fill in for a sick boss, for example.


Companies expect employees today to step beyond their job descriptions on a regular basis, as needs dictate.  Companies reward this initiative by promoting people who demonstrate that they can do more. That is the way the company can test for those skills and abilities. It also allows employees to grow and develop.


Companies have reduced the number of layers of management and expect employees to become involved in decision making, especially when the outcomes of those decisions will affect them. The result should be employees who are empowered to try new things and share in the sense of ownership that has been traditionally the domain of management. The intention is not to have employees doing management’s work.


If the tasks are not crossing the line into clear management accountabilities, such as performance management, your company may be fairer than you think.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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