Folks, I'm in need of some professional advice and thought of no better place than Manager Tools. I'm currently a supervisor of a distribution center(DC). My manager is retiring, unexpectedly, in September and has informed me I will be taking his spot. After a few conversations with he and his boss I have been told I'm going to be in charge of the operation, however, I will not be promoted. I will have all the responsibility with only a portion of the authority and nothing else.

A little background information. The DC has been failing in nearly every indicee in the past two quarters. Much of it attributed to a lack of staffing and poor management. The manager has been working a "new" job (consulting) since February but, has stayed on for his bonus at the end of the fiscal year. Some of us found this out when a client called the facility while he was on vacation recently. That's a whole other topic. There are a number of minor factors attributed to the poor performance but, everything ultimately boils down to the manager just allowing things to carry on without any accountability for a long time.

My concerns are as follows. I haven't been guaranteed anything. I've been asked to "fix" the facility as a requirement for promotional consideration. I have many reservations because it doesn't appear to me the company is making any commitments to me but, expecting a great deal. I can rationalize why they would do this, however, should I accept it?

Is this a normal occurrence? Has anyone been in the same situation? Would I be foolish to take the challenge on or foolish not to? Any thoughts or suggestions would greatly be appreciated. I'm torn with this but, will be making the decision soon. Thank you, in advance.


bflynn's picture

Todd, whether you take the job or not depends on your capabilities. Do you know warehousing operations well enough to run the DC?

On one hand you're going to have to make changes more or less immediately. However you cannot make those changes through your power - it has to come from the workers. Personally, I would start o3s immediately and lay out the situation - this DC is failing and its up to us to save our jobs. Here's what we're going to do:....

Feedback and coaching come in month two. If you have a problem employee, use feedback and terminal coaching while you try to convince them to change course. If they don't, you'll have the documentation that HR will require and your boss is going to be extremely impressed.

I suspect that if you do this for six months and show that you can do it, the official promotion will come. You might want to ask that question before you do it. My experience has been that if you don't ask, your boss will be dancing all the way to the bank as he makes himself look better by your back breaking work.

Email me directly if you like, I have some experience in this field.


jhack's picture

Some companies like to give the promotion and see if you can do the job. Others like to see you do the job before you get the promotion.

In the first case, if you succeed, fine. If you fail, you're out, or demoted. It's not a good situation.

In the latter, if you succeed, you get the promotion. If you fail, you return to your old role. I'm a fan of this approach (with the [i]explicit[/i] understanding that the promotion comes with success!)

(Of course there are the companies that are not making a conscious decision and managers are trying to be clever. That's not a good situation in either case).

Make sure your manager commits to working for your promotion: Schedule reviews of your work now, and agree to metrics for measuring success. They may not promise you the promotion but they can agree to the metrics and the meetings. So even if you don't get the promotion, you have great material for your resume.


tpedrick's picture

Brian / John,

Thank you for the quick responses and advice.

I am confident in my abilities and have no concerns with my capacity to manage the facility. I have assumed the role in my manager's absence (vacations and such). I agree with the O3's immediately, this is something I've been doing with my operations' folks for some time. As far as a problem employee, I am already aware I'll have two. One was a previous direct asked to fill a vacant supervisory position 6 months ago (he was "promised" a supervisor position if he could prove himself but, that hasn't happened for good reasons) and the other is a senior employee who is being laterally moved from an admin supervisor to operations because his position is being eliminated (he has been under the impression the manager's job would be his for a number of years). Both disagree with my management style and feel life is either black or white and go with the philosophy, "do as I say because I'm your boss!" So there will be some push-back with a more people oriented person at the helm.

I must say I am all too aware of the challenges and your responses really help in the direction I am going. I just don't want to be a back-up QB thinking I'll have the starting position if I win a few games while they secretly play the draft for a starter. But, business comes with risk so...

I will update as things progress.


HMac's picture

Todd - congratulations.

Both Brian and John are giving great advice, so there's nothing I can do to add to it.

In your folllow-up, you cite two problem employees. That may be the case going forward, but one thought: they're problem employees NOW, reacting to the current conditions. When you step in, conditions change (even if you don't do a lot of changes in the first 90 days :) ).

Keep your eyes open regarding their behaviors - they might not hold the "grudge" toward you that they hold toward the current conditions. They may be willing to give you a fair shake, especially if you're willing to give them a fair shake.

On the other hand, [i]nothing [/i]may change with them. My point is not to assume that things will stay the same.

Good luck, and again: congrats!


tpedrick's picture

Just to update everyone, I was terminated yesterday. Still in a daze but, started networking on my way home from work and got the ball rolling. Quirky how sudden it hits you.

jhack's picture


It certainly sounded like an unstable situation, and it's truly unfortunate that you ended up without a chair when the music stopped.

Networking is good. Have you got the interview series? It's great.

And there is a community here, as well.

Take care,


asteriskrntt1's picture

Ouch Todd

Sorry this did not work out. Hopefully you made some significant accomplishments during this messy situation that will help you reposition yourself.

As John says, we are here. Ask lots of questions. Build and leverage that network.


HMac's picture

Todd - Sorry to hear this happened.

My suggestion: as quickly as you can, develop your two to three sentence "exit statement" explaining why you're currently looking for work.

Write it down. Examine it [b]carefully [/b]to ensure that you're not blaming others, sounding like a victim, or sounding at all unprofessional. Then stick to this script - even with your friends.

Limit it to a couple of sentences to avoid going into details that might seem important to you, but really aren't important to the person you're telling (if they want more information, they'll ask!).

There are a million more bits of advice, but this is the one that I thought of first.


tpedrick's picture

I can't thank you enough for all the support. Looking back on things I am emotionally and mentally relieved. I have noticed over the past week that though I'm unemployed and the stress of find a job is on my shoulders it is nothing compared to the stresses of the unstable work environment I was subjecting myself to on a daily basis.
I have contacted a few recruiters and am working with them in hopes of finding something that will work for me as quickly as possible. My fingers are crossed and I am working with my network. There are a number of close friends giving me a lot of support so my confidence is high.
It is amazing how strong this community is, it is very comforting.
Thank you.

HMac's picture

Todd -
If I could offer some unasked-for advice:

Beware of the cliche that [i]"looking for work is now your fulltime job."[/i]

Initially, it is - and more so. Getting organized, evaluating the market, developing your tools, energizing your network, learning how to look for work add up to a HUGE undertaking. Then you're practicing for interviews, doing follow-ups and still prospecting.

But at some point you're not going to be spending 40 hours a week productively in a job search. And as soon as that happens, make sure you fill the time with part-time work, volunteer work or community involvement.

Guard against becoming defined as a person "looking for work" and strive to be a productive, busy professional who's also going through a job transition.

This may not apply to you, and it's unasked-for advice. But it's a lesson I learned through my own experience, and as such, it's the most valuable thing I can give to you.


akinsgre's picture

But at some point you're not going to be spending 40 hours a week productively in a job search. And as soon as that happens, make sure you fill the time with part-time work, volunteer work or community involvement.

That statement resonates with me because I'm often surprised when people who are out of work don't realize the opportunities for building accomplishments and continuing to build their career.

As a computer programmer, anytime I've been out of work my contribution to open source projects increases.

This might not be the same for all careers, but often times there are organizations that need volunteers with your specific skill set.