Making Room for an Overslaugh!

Overslaugh is both a noun and a verb and it means passing over a person in favor of another; to ignore a person or their work. The origin of this term is Dutch and is used more in the military and the services when an expected promotion to your next upper rank is ignored in favor of another officer.

Recently, a few of my clients were “overslaughed” and they felt blindsided by the actions of their management because they were expecting their next promotion. In each case I got a call from my overslaughed clients; in each case their disappointment and upset were palpable.
“Overslaughing” can happen in a variety of ways in the corporate world. Let me count the ways:

1. You are told throughout the most recent Annual Performance Reviews (APRs) that you are in line for your next promotion, but you find out that your management has suddenly hired someone from the outside to take that slot,
2. You have been consistently rated “5/5” in your most recent APRs and are told that as soon as the new headcount is approved your promotion will take place. Then you find out that one of your peers, who has not done as well, gets promoted in that slot. You also do not get along with this peer.
3. You are already in a Lead or Manager role with team members reporting to you and suddenly your title is changed to Staff Engineer with your team now reporting to your boss.
4. Throughout the year your boss tells you that you are doing a great job and they are happy with how you are driving the project. Yet, at the APR meeting you are rated “2.5/5,” with “Improvement Needed” in many areas of your work. Your boss then blindsides you with yet another calumny: IF this continues, you will be put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).
5. Your boss surprises you with an email that says, Jim I have some feedback for you and we must meet soon! (Please read my October 2 blog)
If any of these situations confront you the normal reaction is disappointment, anger, rage, and a feeling of betrayal. In addition, some internalize this setback and go into depression and withdraw from their everyday engagements. Most of my clients who are subjected to this insult are often tempted to go to their boss—or even to their skip-level boss—and show their outrage at what has just happened and how they are not going to put up with this BS. This is a normal reaction, but when these crestfallen clients come to me for advice this is what I tell them to do, instead:

1. Before displaying your anger, disapproval, and the “stupidity” of your management at what they have done to you and how they have done it, calm down (this can be very difficult) and take a longer-term view of your career and how you want to manage it. Remember, anything negative you do or say as a knee-jerk reaction to such an outrage can only redound to your career’s detriment.
2. Meet with your boss and calmly ask the rationale for what just happened and how you missed the cues all along. Ask them what it means to your ongoing place in the company and what you need to do to change the course of this trajectory. This is going to be the single most important “acting” performance you are going to deliver in this meeting. Internally, you are seething with exploding anger, resentment, and thoughts of vengeful actions. You must try everything possible to show some surprise and your willingness to understand their point of view, without arguing or without being sarcastic. You must surprise them with your highly managed demeanor.
3. Once you understand their point of view ask them (your boss and others as you can access them in your chain of command) how this new arrangement is going to work so that you can continue to contribute value to the team and be a valued team player. This is an important point to make to show them that despite their egregious actions and betrayal you are willing to play on the team and be a pro at doing what they want you to do. By managing this part well you are setting yourself for gracious references from your bosses.
4. Get ready to market yourself by dusting-off your résumé and updating your LinkedIn Profile in synch with the résumé. In my previous blogs I have admonished my readers to always keep their résumé market ready. Also, LinkedIn now allows you to conceal your job search from your boss by changing your Preferences in the Jobs tab.
5. Scale down your engagement to your current role without making it visible and also by staying out of trouble. Do not “show” them by working harder, going out of the way to be a martyr, and signaling your management that they made a mistake with these changes. Most managers are immune to feeling guilty. Otherwise, they would have done this differently. Instead, fully cooperate with the new regime and show that you are a true team player. If you do not do this your actions (reactions) will only harm you and prevent you from focusing on what you must focus on: your job search.

Career and job setbacks are normal in one’s professional journey. So, when such setbacks do happen remember to keep your career and future and the center of your focus and follow these guidelines to protect your future and your sanity!

Good luck!

Begin the journey to your new career today.