Thursday, August 10, 2006


I've delayed posting this for a while so I can gather my thoughts.

A few weeks ago I received news that I was being moved into a new department. Essentially, I've been given the job I was thinking I'd have to interview and compete for. I'll be working in the department I've been working to get into for about a year. While this isn't technically a promotion, I'm treating it as such. The reason for that is this is the first time I've had a supervisor recognize my work and deem me worthy of greater responsibility.

I get the feeling like my old boss isn't too happy about this move. They didn't give him a whole lot of time to make sure that the department I'm leaving is ready to absorb my job functions (for the time being at least). However, he did recognize that I had outgrown my position and that opportunities for advancement within my department wouldn't be happening any time soon.

This leads me to talk about what's been bothering me at work for so long. For the past year, I'd come to realize that the university that I work for has been negligent in creating an organizaional structure in which its employees can thrive. Regardless of your feelings on Marxism/Lenninism people are motivated to work primarily for the benefits they can receive from that work. Motivation is huge when creating an organizational structure designed to create employees who will consistently work hard. Pay increases is one way to motivate and a fairly effective one at that. Professional development opportunities (conferences, additional training/degrees) are another effective way to motivate employees. However, second to pay raises, advancement and promotion are the biggest motivators for employees.

The potential to move up and to have greater responsibility and decision-making authority provide a huge amount of motivation for employees. It represents a solid reward for good work. Organizations, for the most part, are not in the habit of promoting those who consistently underperform. Instead, they take the best performers and provide them with opportunties for greater responsibilities. Promotion also demonstrates a certain level of trust. An employee has demonstrated that they are capable of handling certain tasks and understands the system well enough to move higher. Unfortunately, the university I work for does not recognize this and has structured the entire organization in such a way that it is a very real possibility that one could excel in their jobs and never get promoted.

What this says in practical terms is that upper management does not believe that any amount of time in a position is indicitive of a person who will be able to handle greater responsibility or authority. Knowing the internal culture and how things are done are mostly irrelevant when seeking promotion. People in my old department were told that promotions are not how things are done in educational institutions and essentially likened work within an educational institution to be akin to a ministry. One should be willing to do the work and suffer the political nonsense inherent in any business and you only motivation is the altruistic motivation that you're working to improve the world one learner at a time. Excuse me for saying so, but that is foolishness of the highest degree.

I am not a union kind of guy. I do not believe that one should never stray from your job description and not work any more than the required number of hours. As a salaried employee, I'm employed to do a job. If that job takes 60 hours this week, so be it. If that job only takes 30 hours the next week, then that should be ok too. Unions and my hatred of them is a topic for another post for sure. However, there comes a point in everyone's time in a specific job where they come to the conclusion that they have outgrown the job and that they need something more. Recognizing when an employee reaches one of these points is, in my opinion, one of the responsibilities of management. Management should recognize when their employees are capable of doing more and move them into the appropriate positions (should the employee wish to be moved). This simply wasn't happening with my old job. Had this move not happened, I could have spent the next 20 years or more in the same position, doing the same work. That situation lead me to a great deal of job dissatisfaction.

Since starting this post, I have moved into my new job. It took my new boss 90 minutes to hand me a task requiring me to learn something new in order to accomplish. My new boss understands the work I do far better than my old one and understands the stresses that can factor into the quality of my work. His organization of the department he oversees is designed to protect his developers and designers and to prioritize the work that needs to get done. This is something my old boss just didn't understand.

I now have a more challenging job. One that makes better use of my skills and abilities and also one that recognizes my masters degree. The coming months will tell if this move is as good as I'm thinking it is now. However, I have a positive view of my job for the first time in a few years. That in and of itself is motivating.


At 10:17 PM, Blogger wysewife said...

YAY! I have a happy husband.


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