I am asking this question in behalf of a friend. Let's call him Fred. The scenario is in a large profitable US corporation.
Here is the situation:
- Fred has a history of several years of good dependable work with his team and recently completed the design for a major project which he accomplished almost alone with no supervision from his manager and very limited help from some team-members. This working arrangement was not of his choosing, rather, he had very little feedback from management and no resources to help him so decided to do as much as he could on his own.
- Fred's manager has occasionally praised his work and once even mentioned that Fred's design was "the best one he had seen in the history of the company."
- During the annual review period when promotions and raises are determined, Fred received a lukewarm review and did not receive a promotion even though he had discussed this previously with his manager who said a promotion would come in the near future.
- The manager spends very little time in the office and Fred's impression is that he does not want to ask his senior management for promotion approvals to minimize the footprint of his team and maintain his position with minimum risk of scrutiny.
- When Fred showed his disappointment for not receiving a promotion he asked his manager for the criteria used to assess his eligibility. His manager replied that he didn't know and that there was nothing he could do to change the decision because it was determined by HR (which Fred isn't sure he believes). Upon asking other people in the company about the requirements for advancement, he found that he already easily meets all of them.
- Fred doesn't want to approach his manager's manager because he knows they are good friends and fears he will not be heard and possibly even retaliated against for escalating the chain of command.
- Is it better to continue to confront his manager about his lack of effort in promoting him? Or should he go directly to HR to receive a formal reason?
- If Fred goes to HR and the HR people decide to investigate further, can they force Fred's manager to promote him if they determine he meets the criteria?
- Can Fred's manager do anything to retaliate against such an investigation?