Inventing a promotion. Possible?
December 13, 2011 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Machievelli Filter: I see an opportunity at my office.

Briefly -- there's a satellite office that's struggling and frustrating the silverbacks here at the main office. Satellite office has no manager. It's unclear what the gameplan is but for weeks I've heard remarks like, "What we going to DO about those guys?" and "I don't have time to do their jobs for them!"

To me, the answer is obvious -- send me down there once or twice a week to provide some guidance and continuity. Without boring you with the minutiae of my work, perhaps we can just stipulate it's clear to me what needs to be done.

The satellite office people aren't bad at their jobs, they're just getting mixed messages from the mothership. Currently I'm not a manager but I am in a responsible, creative position that requires a lot of independent judgment.

So this would involve inventing some kind of job/promotion for myself.

I am not sure I've ever successfully hatched a "big idea" with the boss, especially one that could benefit me personally (I would want at least a small raise, for example.)

What do I do? Keep my mouth shut and wait for them to think of a solution themselves? Write a proposal of some kind? Make it seem like it's their idea somehow? I'm lousy at this. If it's my idea, would I have to offer to do it at my current pay (for free??)

Any office-ninjitsu or straightforward advice appreciated.
posted by Buffaload to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You say exactly what you just said to us but you bring a powerpoint that shows:

a) why you are perfect for this
b) what the net benefit is to the company
c) what you would call the title
d) what your day to day would look like
e) what your objectives would be 6 months, a year and 3 years out

And then you sell yourself.

Done. Congratulations!
posted by spicynuts at 7:53 AM on December 13, 2011

Casual meeting with your boss(es): "Hey, I understand there's been some frustration about the satellite office. I think I have a way to help them and the company, and I'd be willing to go down there a couple times a week to help them get on the right track."

Then present your Big Idea.
posted by The Deej at 7:54 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Quick follow-up. Should this be cleared with my supervisor first? there's one layer of management between me and the boss would approve my idea. I have a somewhat-tense but overall decent rapport with my direct supervisor.
posted by Buffaload at 7:57 AM on December 13, 2011

On the plus side: Yes, it's possible to see a dysfunction in a company and put yourself forward as just the guy who can solve it. I've done it myself.

On the down side: Research, research, and research some more before suggesting it. And I don't mean on Wikipedia. I mean around the office. Talk to people, ask questions. If the people who are higher up can be trusted, there's nothing wrong with asking some questions. It will both provide information and perhaps pave the way if you do pop the question (or provide some talking points if you decide not to but they decide to ask YOU)...

Before I get into the potential problems, about the salary thing - why would you volunteer to take on more responsibility with no pay? Part of your research is going to be (should be) how this will make the location more profitable. And part of your proposal should be how you can make this happen for just a mere smidgen of that profit, where "a mere smidgen" is more money than you're making now. Otherwise, why would you make headaches for yourself?

Some potential ways to come a cropper I can see from your brief run-down:

- satellite office is in an unprofitable segment of the business, meaning it's either about to take a powder entirely or it just is what it is and the owners don't want to worry about it if it's a necessary evil.
- the problems cannot, in fact, be solved, for reasons you haven't seen yet.
- the problems can be solved, but not without crossing someone you don't want to cross. An owner, a senior manager, whatever.

Again, research it carefully from every angle. If you do see that it's really a problem you can solve, by all means put the proposal forward - with a price tag attached.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:58 AM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

there's nothing wrong with asking the higher ups some questions, is what I mean.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:59 AM on December 13, 2011

While I incline towards the advice of: "Yes, sell your idea and yourself to the bigwigs", I would also caution you. Are you certain that you know the ins and the outs of what's going on at the satellite office, and that your idea is the right one? If you are not in a management position, it is possible that you don't have all the facts.

Do a little research behind the scenes beforehand to make damn good and sure you know whereof you speak, THEN pitch the big bosses.

On preview, what randomkeystrike said.
posted by LN at 8:00 AM on December 13, 2011

Actual ninjutsu approach as requested:

Pitch the idea to your supervisor as a way that he can be the (short-term) hero by suggesting the company use you as the solution to the problem.

Let him take the credit for this great idea that benefits the company. This smooths over your relationship with him right now, and you still get the great job you want and get to be the (eventual) real hero.
posted by rokusan at 8:01 AM on December 13, 2011

I have known people who've gotten fired for presenting brilliant ideas to the boss of their boss. I have also known people who've gotten promoted. Proceed with caution.
posted by Jairus at 8:25 AM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: Coworker just suggested that I set up a meeting with supervisor and Big Boss together. "Hey guys, I wanted to suggest we try something temporarily..."
posted by Buffaload at 8:33 AM on December 13, 2011

a meeting with supervisor and Big Boss together

That joint meeting may not be your solution either because for all you know there are all kinds of politics between your supervisor and big your research.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:47 AM on December 13, 2011

What are your end goals. You just want more responsibility? Do you want a new title? More money?

If you just want more responsibility just take it. If the office is already leaning on you just start going over there. People will be happy to let you make the problem disappear if it doesn't cost them anything.

If you want to propose "pay me more money and I'll start going over there" that may be a harder sell.

I would be inclined to say "pay me more money or I'll stop going over there" after you have been doing it for a while. It wasn't your job to begin with, you were being a team player and pitching in, least they can do is give you a bump for taking on extra work. After all, without you they would probably have to hire a new person.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:04 AM on December 13, 2011

Since when is expressing a little ambition, and positive thinking about how the company can be improved, considered a bad thing? I would think your bosses would respect your idea and 'gumption' whether or not they go for it.

So this would involve inventing some kind of job/promotion for myself. of the best ways to get a job promotion.

Keep my mouth shut and wait for them to think of a solution themselves?
No... you see an opportunity... go for it.

Make it seem like it's their idea somehow?
Sounds like a sitcom plot. Your idea. Your move.

...would I have to offer to do it at my current pay
Goodness no! They understand profit motive.
posted by ecorrocio at 9:13 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

In addition to doing the research randomkeystrike recommended, you should also be clear about the extent/limits of your authority to make whatever changes you deem necessary. For example, can you fire somebody? Change the location? Launch a marketing initiative? Offer performance incentives? Those examples may not be appropriate (since we don't really know what kind of work you do), but you all the same you need to know the protocols since the solution will likely require more than pep talks, training and/or entreaties to step it up.
posted by carmicha at 12:31 PM on December 13, 2011

I would not ask for any more money during the initial pitch. Save that for your next salary review.
posted by gjc at 5:51 PM on December 13, 2011

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