When managers lie

By Erik Sherman, Computerworld |  Career

Sometimes, promises seem made to be broken -- just ask Mitzi Pearce. In 1997, the American expatriate was working at a bank in Hong Kong. A supervisor begged her to temporarily relocate to the bank's London headquarters.

"My manager said ... it would be a great career move," says Pearce, who now works at Metris Companies Inc. in Scottsdale, Arizona. Some move. The manager failed to make financial arrangements, so Pearce was left negotiating a contract on her arrival, losing any relocation reimbursement. "It had actually cost me [my own money] to get there," she says.

An IT reorganization then eliminated her old job, and on the last day of 1998, Pearce was suddenly out of work.

An unusual experience? Not quite. Approximately 10 years earlier, Pearce worked at a large U.S. bank that had relocated her to Hong Kong for a two-year assignment. The company promised her a job after the project was completed. Yet, when she returned to the U.S., the company was facing layoffs and Pearce had to find another employer.

Whether because of organizational ineptitude, the changing fortunes of companies or even outright deception, thousands of IT workers each year find themselves in Pearce's shoes, fighting for the raises, stock options, training and other benefits and compensation they were promised.

Can't Get No Satisfaction

Gaining satisfaction may be a matter of IT staffers waiting longer than they would like to see the promised land. Too often, these promises are all style and no substance. There are steps that IT workers can take, but ultimately, the best recourse is to work for people who are honorable -- and organized.

"Technology workers are always getting screwed over by management," says Richard Bordelon, a recruiter at The Richmond Group USA in Richmond, Va. In many cases, he says, a CEO expects technology to solve all his problems, putting IT managers under great pressure. "I think [IT managers are] overworked, pissed off, underpaid, frazzled, stressed-out people who will say or do anything to get the job done," Bordelon adds. "I think they overextend themselves."

As a result, many IT managers make promises to recruits and existing employees that won't be fulfilled. Most likely, it's because the managers haven't thought through the ramifications of those promises.

"Start-ups have pressing concerns right off the bat," says Jerome Coleman, a partner at law firm Nixon Peabody LLP in New York. "The first concern is money. The second concern is employees: getting the right people in the right positions. Kind of as an afterthought, start-ups start thinking about employment relationships."

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