He then proceeded to repeatedly point out how ambitious I am, and by the 7th or so time he said ‘ambitious,’ I was getting the feeling he was not using it in a positive manner.
By Wendi Powell Hunter
I had just received an email inviting me to a meeting with my company’s compliance officer. I had been waiting for this for a few weeks, since I heard a position had opened in that department. My career started just over a year ago at this place of business as a quality assurance analyst, listening to calls placed with our agents and providing accurate scorecards.
Within months, I had become the go-to person for any special assignments – client requests, mock calls, scripting projects, etc. It wasn’t much longer until I was trained to monitor allegations, which were more complicated and had to be handled more carefully. The pride in my work clearly came through, and I was nominated for Rookie of the Year. I volunteered for side efforts, making sure birthdays were remembered, designed a team logo, and always answered questions for my fellow QA when they ran into a unique situation.
I was on top of my world, and this email invitation was the next step. I knew we would be discussing a promotion, and I was nervous. The compliance officer has a bit of a reputation for not being a personable man. I’d only had a few interactions with him up until this point, which only furthered my nervousness. I called my team leader and talked about it, asking for any helpful hints on how to handle my interview. My team leader is the type of person who just puts everyone at ease instantly. He helped me prepare and I felt ready.
The next day, I entered the Teams meeting on my work computer. The compliance officer seemed frazzled, but he stayed focused on the matter at hand. I had been highly recommended by 3 team leaders, my scorecards were impeccable, my attendance was beyond reproach. I got more excited as the conversation continued, but it wouldn’t last. I was informed that my promotion was not a promotion, but a lateral move. There would be no pay raise. I would have to work 9am-5pm instead of my previous 7am-3pm. I would not be trained by the department head; instead, I would be trained by the person with whom I would be sharing my new responsibilities. I was, however, assured that during performance review time (February 2022) that I would get a raise significant enough that, if I decided not to stay in this role, it would be financially difficult for me to lose that extra income. Alright; I took the job.
Performance reviews come along. The company had changed the way it would work. Now it was a whole 3-part process, and we would need to really think things through and enter answers as honestly as possible. I spent several hours of my own time on a Saturday figuring it all out. Finally, my part was done. I had listed all the accomplishments I had acquired the previous year, figured out where I want to go next, and did my best.
The time came for the last part of the review, where I had to have another video meeting with the compliance officer. He started by saying my performance was great, that I am a fast learner and take responsibility for myself. He said there were no issues to discuss as far as how I was doing 5 months in. We discussed my goal of becoming a manager or team leader, but he told me our department is so small there really aren’t any positions like that. He then proceeded to repeatedly point out how ambitious I am, and by the 7th or so time he said ‘ambitious,’ I was getting the feeling he was not using it in a positive manner. He asked me to remove my QA accomplishments from my review, as he only wanted to see my compliance accomplishments. (I reworded this section to make it a 3-item list, as requested, but did not remove my QA work.) I was informed that I would be getting an 8% raise, which amounted to $1.15 an hour.
I left that meeting and cried for an hour. I had been led to believe my raise would be significant. $1.15 an hour more was barely enough to keep my head above water, as I live in Florida and the minimum wage had just gone up to $10. I felt hurt and insulted, especially by his detestable tone when calling me ambitious. Why was I even trying? I was not going to get any respect in this department. Eventually, I sucked it up and got back to work. I needed this job, after all, and it isn’t going to work itself.
Two weeks later, I received an email announcing that the guy who had trained me was being promoted to compliance department manager; you know, a manager position that didn’t exist in our very small department. I was so angry! I get that he had more experience (by about a year and a half) so it made sense to give it to him, but no one else even knew that there was a new position available, so no one else tried to get it. I found out later that the job was created specifically for that person, and that my being hired in was just so he could be promoted. Translation: I was given a barely-acceptable raise just so someone else could do less work and make more money.
Here and there, incidents have happened that seem minor on their face, but much more concerning when viewed as a whole. The compliance officer doesn’t want the 6-8 people in the department talking to each other, which makes zero sense (and we don’t follow that anyway because we literally have to talk to each other sometimes about cases.) The CO has made strange comments during team meetings, such as asking why all the women looked so grumpy, that the women usually liven up our meetings, etc. He especially loves to call me out, asking me to argue with him (yes, he said that) over new policies or procedures, saying I like to give pushback. I had not given any pushback at that point, but I sure started to that day! The CO said to another female that she was “being too emotional” about a case. I found out just two weeks ago that the CO is maybe not so much a team player, as he accepted credit for some crucial work with our downlines that he didn’t have anything to do with.
My job involves handling emails – tons of emails. It took me a good 5-6 months to be able to deal with most of the emails we get. Another person was trained to help with the emails, but only received 3 half-day sessions. Weeks later, that third person was put on the inbox when I took a few PTO days. My second day back, I found a serious issue on one of our cases, and fixed what I could. This was on a Friday afternoon. By Monday afternoon, I was being admonished by the CO about how I need to be more careful when setting up those cases, due to the potential for HIPAA violations, etc. I politely replied that I did not create that one as it was done while I was out on PTO. I got a sort of half-apology back, wherein the CO said he apologizes but I must understand why he thought it was me. I do NOT understand, as a simple click on a certain tab on the ticket would show you who created it. Further, as compliance, we are supposed to pay attention to those little details. I should have been thanked for finding and contending with that error, but instead I was admonished and his attack minimalized with a half-baked justification.
I have considered whether to go to HR about this, but it does seem trivial when looking at it piece-by-piece. I know at least two other people who left this department specifically because of the CO and my trainer/new manager due to the way they treat people and talk down to us like we’re children, but I don’t know if either of them would be willing to go to HR with me. There is strength in numbers, yet I have to wonder if even that would be any good. The company is full of nepotism, which explains how some people got, and keep, their jobs.
In the end, I have been looking for a new job, and that's a whole other nightmare. How can so many companies be hiring but not hiring? I’m honestly at a loss here.