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Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian. John is currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada's aboriginal communities.
My supervisor told another candidate that I am her competition for the Six Sigma position...
March 2005, Article 1
I applied for a Green Belt position (Six Sigma quality improvement) within our company and later found out that my supervisor has mentioned to another candidate that I am her competition for the job. Normally, it is offered to those who have experience in their field/department that can help improve processes. Yes, she has more experience -- I am a new employee (130 days old); hence I bring to the table fresh, "out-of-the-box" ideas. I'm not comfortable "competing" for a position with my supervisor and need to know how to handle this brand of Office Politics.
Dear Bright New Employee,
Let's get a little perspective on your situation. Imagine that you are a high-level executive in the company. It is your job to decide who gets the Green Belt position. You see that a bright new employee is vying for the position against a seasoned supervisor. There would be pro's and con's to promoting either person, but the seasoned supervisor poses less of a risk, because more is known about them. It's not a slam dunk that the supervisor will get the job but the odds are in her favour.
So, what's the optics on you competing against the supervisor? Well, I don't think it reflects badly on you at all. It shows that you have ideas, you're looking for more responsibility, and you're enthusiastic about your career. These are all good things.
Let's look at it from the point-of-view of your supervisor... An eager, enthusiastic new employee has stepped up to the plate and is competing for the Green Belt position. I think your supervisor will respect you for you trying. Does she think you are a threat to her? I doubt it (but you may be). She probably thinks you don't have a chance, but that doesn't mean she hasn't noticed your eagerness. It reflects well on you to be trying.
You are doing nothing wrong in applying -- and competing -- for the same Green Belt position. This is what keeps the energy and blood flowing in a company. If you have the chance, you can mention to your supervisor that you've applied (even though you know, she knows). But I doubt whether she is worried, or even sees you as a threat. So relax. If you do get it, 'good on you'. And if you don't, 'good on you' for having the courage to try. Keep your eyes out for more growth opportunities. It's what will keep you energized and constantly learning. You have a bright career ahead of you.
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