Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ask the Administrator: How to Respond to Opacity?

A new correspondent writes:

My boss, the director of [campus office], told me in February that I was going to be promoted. A month later, the vp told me I was getting a raise. A month later, my boss asked me what I thought about being assistant director and told me to name my price. The next week, he and the vp told me I was going to be re-classified. The president has called two private meetings with me to thank me for my hard work and tell me they are looking for a place for me. The paperwork for re-classification has been slow. I turned in my final portion last week and my boss still hasn't acknowledged it. It's been 7 months. 
I am a program assistant taking home less than anyone in my department and working well above my classification, and I am often leading my entire department on projects. I have talked to my mom, who is a successful business woman, and she is telling me I am too young to expect anything (I am in my twenties and planning to finish my masters degree next summer), but I am discouraged about what I have been told and the lack of clear communication. 
What would you expect from an employee as an appropriate response to this situation?

I'd start by asking your boss for an update.  It sounds like you're in a union environment; if that's true, the processes and rules for reclassifications can often be pretty byzantine.  That's especially true if the title for which you're being considered doesn't exist in the system yet.  At my college, a new title has to be bargained with the union, as does it pay level, scope of responsibilities, and the like.  If it's a non-unit position, there may be issues that have to be impact bargained, such as if you have people suddenly reporting to you.  

If you get the runaround from your boss, I'd check next with HR.  I know HR departments have awful reputations generally, but they're usually the keepers of process.  Honestly, it sounds to me that the wheels are actually turning, but they turn slowly and nobody is keeping you apprised.  I'd start by just asking about the process and timeline for decisions, rather than pleading the merits of your case.  Some colleges only do reclassifications once a year, for example; if that's true in your case, then the delay may have nothing to do with you.  Keeping a calm and professional demeanor when you ask, and focusing on process, will make you look professional.  That can only help.

There could also be funding issues, equity issues with people in other offices, or, yes, discriminatory attitudes.  But I wouldn't leap to that last one until you've investigated the others.  

Good luck!

Wise and worldly readers, what do you think?  Is there a better way?  Am I missing something?

Have a question?  Ask the Administrator at deandad (at) gmail (dot) com.