A reader writes:
Recently my boss (boss #1) shared a departmental restructuring plan with me that included a potential promotion for myself and a demotion for my superior (his peer; boss #2). My other boss has been a mind-blowing disaster; blowing deadlines, showing up late, can barely write an e-mail above kindergarten reading level, etc., the list goes on. Her performance has forced up to pick up slack and we have grown to share our frustrations with this situation.
Boss #1 has been telling me about a restructuring plan that will make him director of the department, promote me to an associate director from manager, and demote her from director to associate director. He recently shared with me his written plan and asked for feedback before presenting to the Executive Director and CFO. My initial reaction was that he shouldn't have shared the plan with me unless it was taken seriously by senior management, rather than a "wish list."
When he returned from the meeting with senior management, I took him aside and asked if he could share the response with me and he said, "I don't know what's going to happen with the title changes, but they understand that someone needs to keep a closer watch on her." And that was it.
My question is was this appropriate to share with a subordinate? It has made me feel somewhat duped by false promises that were never that strongly encouraged by upper management. Perhaps I'm taking this too personally, but what am I supposed to think about this?
This is an interesting question. On one hand, your boss clearly respects your opinion and wanted your thoughts and insight on what he was thinking about proposing. That's a good thing. On the other hand, I agree with you that he set you up for false hopes and should have gotten aligned with senior management before talking to you. It sounds like he hadn't even taken their pulse on the subject.
So while I agree that he should have talked with them before talking with you and that he handled it clumsily, I think the real question is, what's the best way for you to look at this? You could stew about your boss's error -- or you could focus on the fact that he respects you, believes you deserve a promotion, shares his thoughts with you, and is aligned with you on the problems with boss #2.
Bosses will always make errors, because they're human. But look at the other pieces that this one showed you.