Help! My boss is promoting the wrong person


(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,

I'm writing because I don't know how to handle my entitled, know-it-all, gets-away-with-murder coworker. I work in a small office of four people, and I've been the HR assistant (doing generalist work) for five years now. The payroll coordinator thinks that, because she has been here the same length of time and has seen what we all do and gets the occasional Society for Human Resources email, she somehow knows everything about HR and is now qualified to be the HR manager. She has a bachelor's degrees in drama and no experience actually doing HR work -- she is a data entry clerk at best, but for some reason my boss is going along with this idea of promoting her. 

She acts like a princess, orders me around like I'm her personal assistant and complains constantly that she is overworked. The thing is that she wouldn't be "overworked" if she actually showed up on time and didn't spend so much time socializing. She arrives at least 10-15 minutes late everyday, but my boss never sees it because she doesn't get here until 9 or 9:30 a.m. and we're expected to be in at 8:30 a.m. She also doesn't seem to notice when this woman disappears for a half hour every day to go chat with a coworker next door. 

My question is, aside from getting a new job (which I am looking for), what can I do? Do I bother saying anything to my boss or will I just look like a tattletale? It's so hard to keep my mouth shut and bring myself to work every day when I have to put up with this craziness. I work hard and have consistently been given duties from my boss of increasing responsibility to help me grow in my career, but it just doesn't seem worth it anymore.

Do you want the HR manager job? I ask because I can't tell from your email. I bet your boss can't tell, either. You say she has given you increasing levels of responsibility, but that it doesn't seem worth it anymore.

Is this really about your slacker coworker, or is this about you not being recognized for your hard work? It seems it it should be obvious that if you're working hard and taking on new responsibilities that you want the promotion, but honestly it's not. Staffing is actually very difficult, and it is filled with opportunities to make mistakes. People who are passed over for promotions tend to be upset, and you may risk losing them over it. So even though your coworker appears to be less than stellar, she's still better than no one.

She's positioning herself for the HR manager role and campaigning for it. You're quietly doing your job (presumably well) and assuming that you should get the promotion, but that your coworker will get it. Just being an obnoxious princess and assuming it will happen doesn't make it so.

Go to your boss with a copy of your resume (which should emphasize what you've accomplished, not what your responsibilities are), and say: "Jane, I know you're looking for an HR manager. I've been taking on increasing HR responsibilities for the past four years, and I am ready for this role. I'd like to officially throw my hat into the ring." Then make sure you apply through whatever internal process is required.

Don't worry about your boss not knowing that your coworker is coming in late and chatting with the woman next door. Neither of those things are big deals in and of themselves, and it's highly doubtful that your boss doesn't know. (Since she comes in later, it's not likely that she really cares all that much about people being on time.) Telling her won't change that. 

Instead, apply for the manager position, emphasizing your skills and accomplishments. You may or may not get the job, but at least you'll know that you tried.

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