When your employer's promises turn out to be "smoke & mirrors"


Dear Joan:
I accepted my current position four years ago, with the understanding I would be promoted after a one year "mentoring" period.  That promotion never came and it now appears it will never come, as I now feel it was never really intended to happen.  Yes, I have asked numerous times and there's always an excuse. 
My boss is a male and it appears, after now being employed here for four years, that few women hold top management positions.  I was told that 30 percent of the managers here were female.  That simply is not true.  Each of my performance evaluations since joining this company has been very positive with performer ratings.  I have a very good relationship with the staff and especially good with those who report directly to me. 
I continue to work very hard for this company, even though I have absolutely no trust in my boss.  I respect his position here and know that he is the BOSS but I have no respect for him due to his deceitfulness. 
My entire career has been in this particular area of expertise and I have worked harder than any man would have to in order to reach this career level.  I left a well respected, competing company after twelve years to accept this position because of what was presented as a wonderful opportunity.   Unfortunately, I now realize it was all "smoke & mirrors." 
I shared with the company I worked for, as well as my family and friends, that I would become the manager after one year.  This has been somewhat of an embarrassment as well.  I try to remain very positive as I work with a great group of people, however, it is very difficult at times. 
I would appreciate your comments and/or any advice you may have to offer.  Thank you.
Unfortunately, some people will promise anything—a future promotion, a salary increase, tuition money—to get a candidate to say “Yes.” Then, once the person is in the job, they relax and forget all about their promise. The interesting thing about your situation is that you stayed in spite of the years of excuses.
The problem is that the feelings of betrayal create the emotions you describe. You don’t respect him and you think he lies. The vicious circle is that he probably can sense your resentment and that will prevent him from recommending you for promotion (if indeed he ever meant to promote you in the first place).
If he (and his fellow male counterparts) really don’t care to promote capable women, slaving away for years isn’t going to make any difference. The question to ask yourself is, “Do I want to advance, or don’t I?” You left a good employer after twelve years to move up but now you haven’t left for four years in spite of this broken promise.
If you really do want to move up and you have the excellent record you describe, why stay? One way to decide is to mentally put yourself at the end of your career and pretend that you are looking backward. Ask yourself, “How will I feel about my career if I don’t achieve my goal of moving up?” “How will I feel if I stay at this job another four years? Ten?” Let that answer be your guide.

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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