Human Resources/Translation


Hello Mark,
I thought you would be the perfect person to ask this question since you clearly have a lot of experiencing training leaders in the HR field and I am sure you've addressed this type of scenario at least once.

I have been working for company for the past 4 years in a relatively low level position. I have previous experience as a news writer and freelance editor as well as a bachelor's degree. Six weeks ago I applied for a writing position with the company, which was a bit of a stretch, so I was not surprised when they told me they were pursuing other candidates.

However, one of the HR directors called me on her cell phone while she was on vacation to tell me she was interested in creating opportunities for staff to get more writing experience and wanted me to participate. The next day I received an email from her essentially repeating the same information. I saw her grocery shopping and she approached me and said she was going to call me when she returned from vacation (which didn't happen). I was very enthusiastic!

She told me several times that she had discussed this with other members of the HR team and directed me to contact the other HR director. However, when I did as she suggested the other director told me she didn't know what I was talking about. During the course of our conversation she said, "You're going to get an award for being the most diligent applicant." Although I felt her comment was meant as an insult, I kept the mood light and cheerful and replied, "Thank you! I only apply for positions for which I feel I am qualified." I am interested in advancing in the company, but it is true that I only apply for positions I feel qualified to do and I don't apply for every job opening.

During the last 4 years I have had a slight increase in responsibilities, but my essential job function remains the same as when I started. Based on her comment I infer that my development opportunities are limited or nil. Do you feel that was her intended meaning?

I have left 2 messages for the HR director who originally contacted me and never heard back. Of course, I spaced them over time so as not to be annoying.

I am not sure what to do going forward because I am getting mixed messages. I want to keep in their good graces, or even form positive relationships with both of them, but I am not sure how. How can I stay upbeat and make a strong case for myself while I look for new employment (which I believe would be my best option considering what I have been told)?

Do you feel that my interpretation of the situation was accurate, or would you interpret it another way? Thanks for your help with this!

Hello Bella,

Thanks for your question.  This sounds all too familiar to me on various levels.

I’m not giving the HR managers/directors much credit here.  One way to alienate employees, lose credibility as a leader/manager, and push talent out of the organization is to not follow through on your word, not be responsive, etc… average to poor leadership and certainly bad leadership example.  Sounds like the middle of the bell-shaped curve! Although you apparently do not work within the HR department, the manager/director had a responsibility to follow through on those conversations.

BTW, staying in the “good graces” of the HR department usually doesn't get you much unless the HR department has a “seat”, is a “player” at the leadership table or in the organization.  Department managers should be responsible for performance management and career development with HR as an educator, coach, mentor, and influential driving force for those types of processes.  However, you are in the best position to assess that.

Your direct supervisor is your best bet for sponsoring and developing you for advancement.  Now that can be good news or bad news, depending on where he/she falls on the curve as a supervisor/manager and leader.  If you have been on the same job for four years, even with some expanded scope, you should have seen signs for sure regarding management interest in your development as a professional in the form of conversations about strengths, areas for improvement and some form of action plan to further develop your skills and abilities to your career benefit as well as companies. It sounds to me like not much of that is happening.  If that has not happened, you should not take it personally or professionally, that is not a failure on your part, but the organizations.  And, if that is the case, you are probably and not the only “victim”.

You are doing the correct thing, showing your interest in advancing your career, making inquiries.  It is my opinion that the employee is 80 percent responsible for their career situation and advancement and the company 20 percent.

Going forward:

Find a mentor/coach inside the company but in a different department. Here is a link on great mentor/coach characteristics.

I am hoping you have noticed a manager or executive who you might approach to be a coach and mentor to advise you on your career.  I would approach that from the viewpoint of “just needing” some career and development advice, not connecting your negative experience to date unless there is a natural opportunity to surface your experience in the course of mentoring or coaching conversations.
Make more noise, more frequently, about you career and next steps.  The response will be a good test of the company’s interest in you and your career.  Make appointments with department managers where you think you might “fit in” from a career standpoint.  Have some goals and a good storyboard in mind as to how you see your career developing and what you see are a few next steps.  The storyboard can be fluid as you move forward.  You are the author and owner!

If something doesn’t start to perk for you in let’ say the next six months, if there are no signs of interest, I’d stay positive and look for another position in another company.

And so I do not forget to say it, try to avoid blind-siding your immediate boss.  Keep him/her in the loop.

Thanks again for asking Bella!  Best of luck to you!


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Mark Eichinger


Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. My H.R. passions include Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Performance Management, Talent Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development, Compensation, Creating Space, etc.), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Questions I cannot answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.


I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. Previously, I successfully held corporate executive and management leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources International and Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region, my responsibilities included, leading the regions H.R. team and processes, managing the H.R. relationship with the corporation, creating and leading the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managing the Asia Pacific key leader’s process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University. MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport. University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified. Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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