General Question

mote's avatar

Is there anything to be done about being blacklisted at work?

Asked by mote (633points) June 4th, 2010

I work for a large company. Everyone agrees that my work is creative and good. Recently when I came up for a big promotion, I didn’t get it. Only later did I come to learn that it was not due to competence but rather to a possible personality conflict with a more senior person (or multiple people). A major problem is that I don’t really know who has the vendetta, and why. In any event, I’ve now essentially been strongly encouraged to move on, which would likely mean moving to another city. However, I’d like to stay, since I like the area.

So, my questions are:

1. Is there anything I can do? 

2. Should I try to speak with the senior people in a frank manner and try to understand the issue(s)?

3. Is there a way to repair the relationship(s)? 

4. Should I just cut my losses and start over somewhere new with a clean slate?

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18 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Managers make promotions.
Managers have to work more with those who get promoted.
They will take people they like before people who are good at their work.

Keep doing good work, keep your mouth shut, and you will get the promotion.
If that is what you want.

lilikoi's avatar

@filmfann You can’t guarantee that. Maybe this guy/gal made a sizable mistake and his/er higher ups hold lifelong grudges. I have seen this happen. And in this kind of scenario, the odds could be massively stacked against him/er.

@mote You can try to have a frank conversation but not sure how it would pan out. I’d expect solid references from them, though.

Merriment's avatar

How did you find out about this “potential personality conflict”? Who told you this was the issue standing in your way? Before you assume all hope is lost and that all of upper management is out to blacklist you, ask yourself what the person telling you this would have had to gain from sharing this with you.

Who is strongly encouraging you to “move on”? Is it this same person? Is this person in a supervisory position over you? Would they like to be?

I find it hard to imagine that you are getting good feedback on your work but that all of upper management knows you well enough to see you as a potential personality problems. Unless you are far less reasonable at work then your logical question makes you appear. I mean, unless you are all located in the same general vicinity, some of them would have to be functioning off of “word of mouth” in regards to who you are. So you are probably looking at a single person…possibly the one telling you all this “insider” information and encouraging you to move on.

kevbo's avatar

You’ll be happier and better off in a work environment that recognizes your talent and that doesn’t create a current for you to swim against. I’ve seen it happen and people go from being the whipping boy to regional manager.

You could also try acting like the big gorilla. By that, I mean acting assertively and aggressively and challenging people so that eventually you start getting treated like one of the big boys. In other words, expand on your personality conflict until you become someone that nobody can ignore. Whatever works.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Just because you are exceptional in your current job doesn’t mean that you should be promoted. I’ve seen too many people moved into a manager position because they are good at what is considered a lower job. Focus on what you really, really like to do, and stick with it. If you work for a good company, they will reward you for your talents.

Pandora's avatar

Sometimes people are great at their job but not great at managing or getting along with other people. If a promotion would mean that you have to work with others that you don’t get along with or that they don’t get along with you, than management has to consider the effect it will have on the whole company. If they need someone who is more a people person than it may be something you need to work on before you move on anywhere.
At my husbands job there is a lady who is great at her job but she is not a diplomatic person an works like a bulldozer. She is being considered for a higher position but some of the managers are afraid that she will let the position get to her head and bull doze more people. She has no finesse in a job that requires finesse.
I would ask your bosses if there is somewhere they feel you can improve and do that. For companies its the bottom line. If your promotion is going to affect productivity than its no promotion for you.

partyparty's avatar

You should most certainly try to get things sorted out with management. Make an appointment, make sure you know exactly what you are going to say, then explain precisely, but in a friendly manner, how you are feeling.
How did you find out someone was in conflict with you? How sure are you this was the reason you did not get promotion?
At the end of the day only you know whether you enjoy your job enough to stay with this company. Perhaps if things were resolved then you would be in line for promotion the next time there is a vacancy.

jca's avatar

it’s hard for me to answer the question without knowing a little more about what you did wrong (to those people), what your behaviors are that the people disagree with, what they’re saying your problems are. if you could clarify that would be helpful, in my opinion. is it rudeness? something else? please explain.

Ron_C's avatar

1. Corporate management is not democratic. The bigger the corporation the less democracy.
2. “Black list” recommendations are seldom written, I would suspect that the person that said you are black listed is playing office politics.
3. It is possible that you are the one that placed yourself on the “watch list”, my experience that the people that worry about such things cause the problem. If I was the manager, I suspect that I wouldn’t promote you either.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@filmfann, that is not always true. Doing good work consistently will not always get you promoted. Neither will working extra hours and taking on extra assignments guarantee successful promotion or more money. I worked for a person who put me on performance review because I was doing what he asked me to do, which was different from the role description for the position I was hired to do. He was fired, and I’m still having to deal with the performance review issue. He did similar things other people as well.

mote's avatar

Without revealing too much information, I will say that this is not a typical “corporation”. I am being considered for what would be consistent with a junior partner position at a law firm or consulting company. There are no concerns about my ability to handle the position, manage other people, and be successful. It simply appears to be the case that I have rubbed some people the wrong way, and they are holding that against me. Again, one of my problems is that I don’t quite know what I did, and to whom.

As to the person telling me this, he is my current boss, and I would be promoted to a lateral position to him within the organization. He never said blacklisted, but just explained that there were a few people adamantly opposed to my internal promotion, irrespective of my work. It is possible that he wants me to leave, but I haven’t gotten that sense, yet.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Your first and second responses are conflicting, and they make it sound like it is being blown out of proportion on your part. In reality, you may not be getting all the details. Something is amiss if others in upper-level management do not support the job change. My guess is that your supervisor is not giving you the whole story. If he/she will not provide specifics on the concerns (and it doesn’t mean who has them, just job performance), then go to the Human Resources department.

Pandora's avatar

In that case your boss may simply be jealous or worried that your work ethics make him look bad by comparison and hopes you will move on. Otherwise he would’ve told you what you can do to improve your chances or what feathers to unruffle.
It could also mean that they need you in your current possition more than the one you could get. Sometimese its not personal. Its just about what the company needs.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

While there is the chance that Pandora is right, it is pure speculation, and you need to get the facts. And I don’t know how it works in your company, but technically, you cannot be promoted to a lateral position.

Personally, it sounds like they are looking out for you and don’t want you to succumb to The Peter Principle. Your supervisor should, however, provide you with timely, sincere and objective feedback; not at the point where you are interviewing for another position.

mote's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Thanks for making so many assumptions. I said “lateral to him”. For example, if he’s a partner, I would be promoted to partner, whereas I am not one now. It wouldn’t really bother him if I moved up. We wouldn’t be in any form of competition.

They are most certainly NOT looking out for me and I am not blowing this out of proportion. In 9 years of working there, no one has ever given me any negative feedback, at all. My current boss simply explained to me that it was highly unlikely to happen (i.e. the internal promotion), and that he had heard “through through the grapevine” that it was due to several people being completely against me.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My mistake mote, and please accept my apology for misreading and misquoting your post.

I still think that you should go to the HR department about this if your supervisor will not give you the specifics.

Merriment's avatar

I still have to question your boss’s motives in telling you this and in this manner.

As your current supervisor didn’t he have the responsibility to tell you what you are/were doing wrong? Isn’t that his job as a manager?

If this blackballing came as a surprise to him I can more understand him not giving you reviews that indicated where you were falling short. But if he had any foreknowledge of your offensiveness then it was his job to share it with you sooner rather than later.

And if he is advising you to move on then he should ball up, fire you, and give you the details in your termination review.

If your boss is choosing now to suddenly be shy about sharing details I would take this on up the food chain. What do you have to lose? A job with a dead end especially for you?

Who knows maybe you will find that your boss has an agenda of his own that you and the upper management have no knowledge of.

EZK's avatar


Most answers only parrot the moronic “you cannot tell for sure” refrain.
No, you cannot tell for sure. But it is REASONABLE to assume certain possibilities over others.

While it is possible that a person convicted of murder is not guilty upon a verdict, taking that into account is ridiculous.

In essence, you know that someone prefers someone else over you, and you know who prefers who.
Unfortunately there is no way to curb your employer’s decision based on fairness. The only solution in that case is to find something better in a better environment.

Analysing why a speculation is correct of wrong is a loss of time. The decision has been made, now it is time to move on. Either stay or go. It is entirely up to you!

Good Luck.

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