I have been very recently promoted at senior (expertise) position but without any management role in a 100-employee research agency, with the strong support of my boss (direct manager).
Today, my boss (of a group of about 20 people) asked me (and supposedly another colleague he did not tell me the name yet), to form a "committee" (the two of us only), to "collect internal-feedback from other colleagues (senior and junior), for the consideration of promotion from junior to senior of a colleague Z". (I think Z deserves it).
I want to decline for the following reasons, I need your help to do it "politely".
None of us under the boss has any management role. My boss will soon push Z for senior (Expertise) promotion at a promotion committee made of several directors at boss level, plus the top manager of the agency, so my boss needs to make a good case for Z. This promotion committee asks for internal feedback about any candidate for promotion to take a decision, but it is not clear what are the rules if any, to collect these feedback. So it is not clear if I can be asked to do that by the rules, or just to please my boss. I asked him if it was a standard procedure but the boss replied: "we already did that for your own promotion and for mine too". When I asked if he wanted me to spy on my colleagues asking questions without telling the purpose (which I refused to do), he told me: "no, you will tell them that you ask them how Z is doing for that promotion purpose." Then I asked him why he does not do it himself, he replied: "I would be judge and jury". Then I talked about personal ethics/feelings that I cannot do that, and he explained that if I was not so much dedicated to the agency, he would have requested me to do it with no option to decline, which lets me think I still have the option to decline but he really expects me and pushes me to accept this mission.
Notice that several of my colleagues to be interviewed are candidates for promotion to senior too, but have not been selected by the boss for this promotion. Moreover, I work closely with most of the colleagues I am supposed to interview, and with Z himself. In short, it seems to me my boss or the decision committee delegate what I think is part of their fundamental role/duty/responsibility. I feel more legitimate to, and I am ready to, give my own opinion about Z directly to my boss or any member of the promotion committee, but not to serve as intermediate to collect these feedback.
I see the following reasons to decline the request:
- there are no written rules to do this (but this place does not really work by the written rules anyway, we are not in the Western world, if I complain too much I can be fired quite easily. So I want to decline but I don't want to make a mess around it).
- I don't see the rationale of this process: if the feedback is oral, then using an intermediate person can only bias the reporting, and if it is written, no need for an intermediate to collect all of them.
- It looks like my boss uses me to get feedback the interviewees would not give directly to him, because I know them more than he does. My colleagues might easily think this, they could blame the boss for not doing his job, but they will also blame me to accept this role and it will be detrimental to my collaboration/trust relationship with them.
- I am not legitimate for interviewing even if officially mandated by my boss, it requires human resource skills/responsibilities I don't have.
- It looks as if my boss uses me to get the possible aggressive words, not assuming his decision of promoting Z instead of others among the ones I would interview.
- It is possible that my boss wants to make sure the feedback he gets are positive (I would be rather positive to promote Z), but I cannot see how me being the collector can be viewed as unbiased by the promotion committee.
- The ones I would interview were possibly not in favor of my recent promotion, some of them being my competitors for that position, so I don't want to add more tension by being the servant of the boss.
What can I reply to decline politely still showing to my boss I wish I could help him and I support his choice to promote Z?