Suppose she doesn’t want to chat! Suppose she wants to work while at work and her work excels most in her department! Perhaps it was the turn of the economy, the advent of the downside of technology, the decline of morality but something shifted in the workforce. The period of professionals being promoted for skill and loyalty was somehow short-lived and replaced with the ongoing existence of recognition and rewards of C-employees. C-employees, a metaphorical term, are those individuals, woman or man, who didn’t get to where they are on merit alone; they are the ones that can work a crowd solely on personality; the individuals who were known in high school and college as the popular ones. Some C-suite leaders could fall into this category or anyone who fits this descriptive. The intriguing and disconcerting aspect of C-employees is that these individuals have set the social bar on promotions and leader/manager recognition while the individuals who do the work and are not as loquacious as these C-employees are forgotten. For women, this reactionary style can be particularly challenging because women’s rights and equality in the workforce is a prevalent issue.

Some people spend over 12 hours a day at their places of employment.  The conversations about workforce issues are as extensive and intense as the work hours alone. Think about your daily conversations, they probably consist of more complaints about workforce unfairness than about family concerns and personal challenges.

Professionally skilled employees who have a degree will not necessarily obtain or sustain their desired careers and a lucrative income. The trifecta: degree + skill + work = promotions and better income, has morphed to include a degree + or a modicum of skills and an overwhelming ++ majority of the approved social characteristics. If a person is insipid, introverted, yet has an outstanding work ethic and excellent work deliverables, unfortunately, these aptitudes might not make leaders and employers take notice.

Skills are great to have in the workforce to demonstrate job competency but even with the best skills, promotions, and work rewards are not guaranteed. If the degree and top skills are no longer the sole qualifiers and have transmuted into a fabricated promise in the workforce for some professionals,  what is the new promise for these employees? The other new approved characteristic might provide some insight. A person who is loquacious, expressive, yet has substandard skills with slight potential could very well dominate in the workforce having the popularity factor as a major bonus. This same employee could show promise to improvise or finesse conversations to the point of convincing others that she/he is capable of delivering outstanding work and qualify for promotions or even leadership positions. She could very well mask her inadequate work skills because she is a people person.

Is the person to blame because she has the acceptable social characteristics to incite leaders to gain notice, engage with Vice Presidents at conferences, and organize an outstanding social event even if she is not part of the actual planning committee? What are the long-term effects? The person is not to blame because she is gifted in her social skills. However, the long-term effect could be C-employees/C-managers. C-managers are those who have basic skills and rely heavily on their staff to compensate for their shortcomings, yet they are popular or was popular at one point to obtain the position regardless of skill level. The issue with C-managers is that they are dependent on their employees to the point that they do not take manager culpability. Some of these C-managers started as the errant and loquacious person.

Individuals who have managed to finesse their jobs and enter into leadership positions might not have respect from their staff members, hence employees gripe at Happy Hour. People vent about their jobs and managers for this very reason, a lack of respect for their leaders. These effervescent leaders might manage their roles and rise to the occasion because of their social skills yet another employee is doing their job, carrying the brunt of the work.

This employee, the bystander, the seemingly forgotten one who has the degree, skills, yet the unapproved characteristics are overlooked while feeling expendable. The competitive landscape has never been so high in the workforce. The social group, Millennials, have changed the way business is planned and delivered and changed the way employers view employee competency. Walk down the corridors of any company and they resemble a dormitory. Some of the GenXers find themselves trying to keep up with the pace or seemingly competition and the Baby boomers find themselves retiring earlier if they can afford to do so from the workforce.

Is there hope?

There is always hope if professionals remain hopeful. Whichever generation people find themselves or want to classify themselves, there are still possibilities and options. Professional employees can still set themselves apart from the C-employees. Consider that at any given moment the original trifecta can align and become a reality.  This is reminiscent of the movie Pretty Woman, the Prince and the Pauper, and Trading Places. The comedic legend Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd trade places. Murphy becomes a successful businessman and Aykroyd becomes an unsuccessful scoundrel. The situation can change in a New York minute based on external conditions, opportunity, knowledge, and always reverts to skill.

If you find yourself relating to this post, do not let hope reside in a stale metal state. Keep your hope active, ready, and responsive even when you are observing the C-employee usurp the board room. Gifts and talents cannot be relegated to what one person, such as a leader, thinks even if it seems unfair and a promise of success is not immediately fulfilled.

What is the real answer?

The real answer is two points. The first point is to remember that someone is always watching. You never know which leader, employer, professional will notice your strong and solid work ethic. You may be quiet yet dependable. It takes one leader who is prudent enough to assess the situation and realize that it takes more than social skills to do a job and operate in a position proficiently. If the right person never notices you in your current position, that does not mean it is over for you.

The second point is to remember you. If you are discouraged, you cannot be ingenious and the workforce requires being creative to make a significant mark.  Yes. Get your degree and continually hone your skills. But also know that you are so much more and as you enter and exit the many careers you might have in a lifetime. Don’t get distracted by the C-employees/employers because they need their jobs too, and most importantly don’t give up on you.

Some employees move on to more rewarding positions where their hard work is recognized and where they feel appreciated without ever raising awareness of their former work predicaments.

No one can duplicate you. You have to get back to you in the often competitive workforce. If you solely concentrate and obsess about the competition, you will undoubtedly be out of kilter. You will find your perfect trifecta and it might mean simply investing in you.

In an upcoming post, the topic will be about how to join the social game without losing you.  Dr. Smith