I am a production manager at a trade org/not for profit.
I love my boss, who is a great guy, but not the best manager. As long as things get done, he’s satisfied, but procedures and work flows have suffered.
About 80% of all projects cross my desk. I can get anything done and I pride myself on being very capable. The problem is no one sees me as a manager or leader, just another worker bee.
My boss has often praised me and told me he’d fight for me. But it’s been 2 years since my last raise and I’m getting very unhappy about my role and my compensation.
The raise (or the lack thereof) is a red herring. Yes, it’s a problem (and here is where lots of people jump in to say, I don’t even have a job, let alone a raise!), but it’s not THE problem.
There may be many problems, so I’ll suggest a few.
PROBLEM A: You aren’t good management material. Ouch, I know. But consider the possibility. Some people are fabulous individual contributors, but lousy managers. Your boss may see that you can and do get anything done that he asks of you, but also sees that you lack the skills to manage others.
Many people are surprised that being good at a job doesn’t automatically make you good at being the boss. They are entirely different skill sets. If you look at senior leadership outside hires, they sometimes come from different industries altogether. This is because the skills needed to manage aren’t those needed to make the product.
SOLUTION A: Sit down with your boss and express your desire to move into a management role. Explain that you feel you may be lacking a few skills and want to develop those. Ask for advice, mentoring, training, etc. Just because you don’t have good management skills now, doesn’t mean you can’t gain them.
PROBLEM B: There’s nowhere to go from here. You didn’t say your non-profit was small, but in my mind I always think small when I hear non-profit. (And yes, I know there are some large non-profits, but humor me.) You may be ready to move into a new role, but there isn’t one for you. Promoting you would require a huge reorganization that wouldn’t benefit the organization–just you.
SOLUTION B: Once upon a time I worked for a Credit Union that had a grand total of 142 employees. There was no one between me and the head of HR. If she left, they would have had to hire from the outside because I was in no way ready for such leadership. But, there was no place to promote me either. So, I looked for another job and found one and left.
I needed more experience before I could fill the position “above” me. You may as well. Leaving is one option. Another option is moving sideways. Gain experience in a different group, preferably one that has room for growth.
PROBLEM C: You are too good at your job. This, unfortunately, happens. Managers can’t figure out how they could possibly function without their star employees and hold them back. They aren’t trying to undermine their careers; they are trying to make their own careers successful.
SOLUTION C: Leave. Or find another department with a position available and post for that. Please note that if this is the problem your manager may still have the ability to prevent your promotion.
If you don’t want to leave (or can’t find a better job), the harder thing to do is work with your manager on this. This can have fantastic results, by the way. You need to be clear that you are looking for management opportunities, but you don’t want to leave him in the lurch. Present a plan for how you will fill the position you want and how you will train your replacement.
This can be scary, though, because we want our managers to think, “I could never get along without Sally.” (Unless of course, your name is Jane and Sally is a huge brown-noser.) The fear is that if you demonstrate that he could get along without you, you might find yourself out of a job. This probably won’t happen, though.
Again, when you start this conversation you need to emphasize that you want to stay with the company, you just want to be in Role X, and you need his help to get there, and you will help him replace you. This is a HUGE benefit to the company. Make sure you show it that way.
PROBLEM D: Your manager is a jerk who will never pay you more money, will never allow you to get promoted and will continue to pile work on you no matter what.
SOLUTION D: Suck it up or leave. Wait it out until he leaves and maybe you’ll get his job, but probably not because if you’ve been there 10 years without a promotion, his management will assume there’s a problem with you.