Dear Kally, 

I’m in a rut. A work rut. 

I’m working as a management trainee at a medium sized research firm for nearly 1 year. I love what I am doing and I’m happy that I am pursuing my passion. 

My supervisor said in my recent appraisal that I need to get along with my team mates otherwise I’ll never be promoted as a full fledge assistant manager in December. I did well in all aspect of my job and just this category I’m stuck with.

My supervisor said that it is very important for me to score well in people relations and management in order to prove that I can lead a team. In fact, he said that he would rather promote someone who gets along with everyone in his team than someone who is good with research analysis like myself.

There’s no quota in the promotion and there are only 3 of us in this management trainee program. So the position is mine if I can fulfill this area.

As far as I know, I’m the one who is good with numbers and research which is the core role of this job but the other two are really good with networking and being friendly with everyone. The thing is that I don’t really like to mingle around unless it is necessary and even then, I think it is frivolous itself. 

I know I can do it if I set my heart to it but wouldn’t it be hypocrite of me, trying to suck up to people that I don’t care about, just to get ahead in the game? 

Please help me to clear my head, Kally. 

If others reading your blog can contribute some insight too, I’ll be grateful forever. 

Thank you.

With faith, 
Graham D.

Hi Graham,

Thank you for reaching out to me.

Oh boy, you are in a work rut, alright. Honestly, have you given some thoughts that this job may not be suitable for you? 

As you have mentioned, the core of the job is research analysis but your supervisor recognised that good people management skills are crucial in a leadership role in your firm. And like it or not, he is not wrong. 

Mingling and networking are important steps in building relations and strengthening bonds in a team. A team is only as successful if they work together towards a common goal. If your teammates are to believe you as their leader, they need to feel your sincerity and put their trust in your guidance. Regular touch base sessions are required to gather feedback and accurately appraised someone of their performance. All these requires strong communication skills and high emotional intelligence. 

To be a leader, there are many qualities you will need to have and one of them is inspiring your team. It is not about getting the work done but about getting your team getting the work done. Make sense?

One positive thing is that you have clearly identified your passion and that is with numbers, analysis and research. You seem to be more comfortable among figures and working alone.

Kudos in understanding your strengths.

Now what you need is not to force yourself to do something you don’t believe in, but to find a suitable role in your firm that will benefit from your strengths. 

Unlike other skills that you can learn or master, people skills are something that needs to come from the heart wanting to be close with people. Forcing yourself to do so will only upset you. 

Have another honest chat with your supervisor about this. Perhaps a more suited position like research analyst will benefit you in the long run. 

Please let me know how it goes. 

Good luck!


Stuck in your job? Maybe you are browse through these advices:
A Word of Advice: A Dressing Matter
A Word Of Advice: I’m Scare Jobless
A Word of Advice: Friendship wedge in at Work

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39 replies on “A Word of Advice: Talent Stuck in A Wrong Job

  1. Hi Graham,

    I read your honest and insightful email with great interest, and I also read Kally’s outstanding response to it. Please allow me to urge you to study her advice. That is, go well beyond reading it. Study it. You owe it to yourself. She has given you extraordinarily spot-on advice. You strike me as intelligent and as exceptionally honest and self-aware. I think she has done you justice.

    My two cents. For whatever you might wish to make of it.

    P.S. if you have trouble relating to your co-workers, you’re a lot like I was when I started out in business. I eventually learned how to build and manage teams, but only after I developed an interest in people as people. You might find that your own interests change over time like mine did. Or maybe not. Just keep an open mind about it. Who knows? You might end up being a super-effective team builder someday. Interests do change — sometimes. Good luck, Graham

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Paul, thank you for contributing your advice. I shall separately forward your advice out to Graham so that he will get it (if he missed seeing this post). I love your positivity and wisdom in your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you, Kally. Graham’s case resonated with me because I once had a similar challenge to what he is facing. That is, how to get interested in people at least as much as I was interested in things. I agree with you — and with nearly everyone else — that Graham should stay out of management unless his interests expand to include people. These days. I would even go so far as to say, if you do not love people, you have no business being the boss. That might sound hopelessly idealistic, but think how productive folks are when they work for someone who they feel loves them. There is a very practical angle to that apparent idealism of mine.

        Now it occurs to me that back when I first began to get interested in people, Kally, I did so through a specific procedure or means. That is, there was something I consciously cultivated that got me genuinely interested in people. It was not a gimmick. It got me started on a real and abiding interest in people. Unfortunately, I cannot explain it briefly enough to fit here. But if you Kally, would like to hear about it so that you can pass it onto Graham — or anyone else like him who needs it — just let me know, and I will email an explanation to you as soon and I have enough time. This is what worked for me, and I think it is something that might work for Graham. Just let me know if I should dedicate some time to explaining it. Time is precious to me these days.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thank you, Paul! I will pass on this message to Graham and if he wants to hear from you further, I shall link you two up via email. But your advice here in this comment is very precious because there may be many “Graham” out there who are reading this but too afriad to voice out.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Kally this is a Gutsy POST; thank you.

    You’re guest poster is frankly not suitable for a management position is supervising others. We live in a world where inter-action is the lubricant that “gets the job done.” Being even extremely proficient at the task is a HUGE plus, but is secondary to being able to direct and motivate employees.

    SORRY guest POSTER, but either improve your interrelationship skills, or stay in the position at which you are so proficient. Or maybe even consider other employment?

    May God guide your life path,

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Kally, interesting post … maybe Graham needs to move out of his comfort zone and integrate more with his team mates … although not explicitly in the JD it certainly makes the workplace a more user friendly environment!
    How are you?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hey Kate! Maybe Graham can try socialising more in his personal time to build up this area.

      I’m doing well. Juggling freelance work and homeschooling my 2 year old. How are you doing?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Fascinating question and Kally’s advice is spot on. I am by nature an introvert and hate what I call “mandatory group gropes” where I have to interact with others, rather than voluntarily going with a smaller group of people I would prefer to be with. I have found out though, that when I am in charge (such as being the president of a division of a professional library association I belong to or I have been the boss) I am interested because I have the responsibility for the group. I am not bored and care about what people are saying. I want to take the time to acknowledge each of them and find out what they care or are concerned about. Not saying that this might happen to you, but it is something to consider. Have you had an opportunity to be in charge of a team or fill in for the boss? Has this changed your perception of what you do not mind doing?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good insight and from a different angle too. I think Graham has a lot more to explore to decide what he likes and doesn’t. Most importantly is to always remain openminded in all situations.

      Liked by 2 people

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