Could HR solve...? Working Girl

9 Apr 2021 By Elizabeth Howlett

A secretary takes drastic action to progress her career under an unsupportive boss 

The problem

Stockbroker secretary Tess McGill is desperate to climb the corporate ladder and shares a merger idea with her boss, Katherine Parker, who overlooks her potential and then steals her idea. While Parker is on sick leave, McGill assumes her identity and brokers a deal of her own. But how could Parker have been more supportive of her direct report’s career aspirations? 

The solution

An employee having their great ideas stolen by their boss is a prime example of office politics and a leader lacking confidence, says Nicola Kleinmann, co-founder of Your People Associates. “Many of us have experienced this at some point in our careers and it can be totally demotivating, not to mention humiliating,” she adds. 

The firm’s HR department could have supported Parker to feel more comfortable in her own role – and therefore less likely to steal her employees’ ideas in the future – with leadership development or executive coaching, says Kleinmann. This would have enabled her to feel more confident in working collaboratively with her team and to “overcome any imposter syndrome she may have been feeling”. 

Close collaboration between HR, talent teams and leadership is also key when it comes to understanding individual career goals, she points out: “With this collaborative working in place, HR, talent and leadership are able to create a fantastic employee value proposition that will encompass a solid career development programme, regular employee feedback opportunities and ‘think tank’ style opportunities to foster all ideas.”

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