8

I'm an experienced software engineer in a large company, where I've worked for about 8 years. My career aspiration has been to become an architect for quite some time, it's something I've pursued training in and I've made many meaningful contributions in architecture discussions within the company, especially after having gained so much domain, company, and system experience.

Traditionally this company does "roles" rather than "job titles", and three years ago I was happy to attain the role of domain architect for the area I work in. Then a few months later the head of the department reorganised, decided they only wanted one architect across the whole department rather than for individual domains, and awarded the position, as a job title rather than a role, to someone else.

I was extremely disappointed, it made the next couple of years pretty miserable for me, and I eventually transferred to a new department to avoid burning out last year.

At the team meeting to announce I was leaving, my boss started by saying how disappointed they had been my by decision to turn down the job of architect two years before. I was lost for words as that had been in no way what had happened, but I held myself together and asked around some colleagues afterwards. It turned out that this had been the official story they had been telling for the past two years, that I had turned down a job that everyone knew I wanted (and that they had never offered me), but nobody had questioned it enough to ask me directly about it.

I was told that management were really surprised that I did that at the time, and it retrospectively explains some odd interactions I had with people, especially whenever I brought up possible career development as an architect. I think this misinformation at the very least harmed my reputation and at worst actively harmed my career opportunities within the company.

However the time when it was claimed this happened was so long ago now (almost three years) that it feels weird to bring it up, especially now I'm more than 6 months into my new role, but it continues to eat at me that this happened. Is there any constructive way I can correct this, or at least fix some of the damage? I fear that by bringing it up I might make it worse, but if I don't find some kind of resolution I will have to move to another company for my own health.

5
  • 1
    Was this effectively misinformation that was spread on purpose or an honest mistake?
    – AsheraH
    Aug 12 '21 at 16:48
  • 2
    Why are you staying at the same company for so long? That is the real question you should be asking. Aug 12 '21 at 17:25
  • 2
    How can you be lost for words about a blatant untruth which you hear for the first time? If someone said you turned down a promotion that you were never in fact offered, words that should come very easily would be "what on earth are you talking about?".
    – Steve
    Aug 12 '21 at 23:56
  • For the sake of getting better answers, could you elaborate on the damage? How has it hampered your career advancement? How has it harmed your reputation? I'm pondering the extent to which there is harm done vis-a-vis other people, versus how you feel personally (not that either is to be dismissed). Aug 13 '21 at 3:14
  • At the least, if it is part of your cause for leaving the job, mention that to HR.
    – NDEthos
    Aug 13 '21 at 14:00
16

I haven't had this happen in the workplace, but I have somewhat had it happen in other aspects of life. I will respectfully suggest there are many signs here that you're being too passive in this part of your life. E.g.:

  • A desired position, that you worked towards for a long time, was taken away from you, and you didn't complain enough that anybody knew about it.
  • You didn't recognize this as a career-restricting moment and move to another company, as many other people would have done.
  • You didn't know about this incorrect story circulating in the workplace for 3 years.
  • You didn't follow up on the "odd interactions I had with people" to clarify the situation.
  • You didn't object when your manager verbally spread misinformation about you in public.
  • You apparently didn't discuss it with that manager directly afterwards, who would be the most obvious person to address it.
  • You didn't do anything concrete for 6 months after that incident.
  • You still seem very reluctant to make a move to another company, which would be the most straightforward way of getting the position you desire.

I don't think that the misinformation is the most critical thing here, but rather the passiveness with which you're generally forging your career. And related: Are you perhaps overly reluctant to leave this company that has numerous sketchy practices (rumors, reorgs, retracted positions, no job titles except when we feel like it)? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Reflect on whether this is the root of the problem.
  2. Talk to a friend or confidant who's outside the workplace.
  3. Get a professional career coach.
  4. Talk to a therapist.
  5. Get a new job.

Now, assuming that you still want the architect position, then I would recommend that you have a conversation with your current manager ASAP, communicate your prior position history, and ask for specific plans on how you return to being an architect. (Go light on the rumor misinformation issue, as that's not entirely material.) Get concrete dated steps on how that will happen. If they can't agree to that occurring in the next 6 months, or the specific steps fail to happen on time, then immediately start looking for another workplace.

I would hope that taking specific steps towards the long-desired position will help take your mind off the chaff of the inaccurate rumor-mongering issue.

1
  • 1
    +1 pretty much what I had as an answer. Be your own advocate and don't be afraid of conflict or to challenge what is obviously false
    – Anthony
    Aug 12 '21 at 23:29
2

How can I constructively correct long-standing misinformation about me within my organisation?

You can't.

Someone spread some misinformation about you 3 years ago. The key here is spread. You would need to reach out to every person in your company who potentially came across this misinformation and explain to them what really happened.

Besides being an unfeasible venture, it will create the perception that you are obsessed with something that happened 3 years ago. People will probably look at you worse if you did something like this compared to what they think you did 3 years ago that many probably have either forgotten about or don't care.

but if I don't find some kind of resolution I will have to move to another company for my own health.

If this is causing you health issues, then yes moving on to a new company would probably be the best course of action. It is unlikely that you will be able to reach out to everyone who was misinformed and some of them may not even believe your version of the events.

0

How can I constructively correct long-standing misinformation about me within my organisation?

You can't as it's too late now. It appears you were rather passive when you heard surprising information about you from management. Once you talked to your colleagues and discovered how rumors were being spread about you, you should have come back to your manager and explicitly stated what you heard, and how such rumors were simply untrue. Then afterwards, document what you said to your manager in writing so there is a record of your side of the story. Don't mince words here.

There is no harm in speaking directly and clearly so to let your desires be known. If there is falsehoods about you, be sure to challenge them for what they are, false statements.

Nobody had questioned it enough to ask me directly about it.

If the colleagues you talked to knew you wanted to be promoted to architect and knew the untrue rumors about you, this is troublesome, and indicates to me, a lack of a healthy culture at your workplace

I don't know if management at your company is non transparent , or not easy to communicate with, but the fact that your colleagues are unwilling to challenge is telling in my opinion, assuming their standing in the company is good In my opinion, negativities that affect work morale or unprofessional behavior, such as spreading rumors would be, should be checked by management ASAP.

-1

This question is difficult to answer without knowing precisely why this misinformation became commonplace about you. It is unlikely that someone made up this story out of the blue, that you were offered this position and turned it down, out of whole cloth, so probably what happened is someone misunderstood something you said and interpreted it to mean something it didn't mean. Can you think of a time in which you may have been offered such a position, or it was, even in the slightest degree, discussed with you, and you reacted negatively? That may be what got this impression into everyone's heads.

Now, this misinformation has been circulating for a while, but that could actually work to your advantage. Here's what you do:

Go to your manager, or whoever is responsible for making these promotion decisions, and say that, at the time you were asked the question or it was discussed with you, that you were new to the company, or inexperienced, or didn't think you had the skillset, or some similar excuse, but now it's been 2 years, and now you feel like you've grown enough to try it out if the opportunity becomes available. People's minds change all the time, and to think that because you said something 2 years ago still means it's true today, is nonsense. So just go out and say, you changed your mind since 2 years ago as a result of the experience you gained and so on, and you want the position now.

Don't address the fact that this information is wrong, or spread as a rumor, or you were never checked about it, or anything like that. Firstly, it's not important. Secondly, it comes off as accusatory and makes you look like shit-disturber and doesn't benefit you in any way; the best you can hope for (insomuch as you would hope for it, I wouldn't but YMMV) is the person who started the rumor might get in trouble. But that doesn't help you at all, so just drop it. Right now, the point is to get you the promotion you want/deserve.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .