Hello, hoping for some advice on navigating a tricky conversation with my employer.
I'm at a small but rapidly scaling startup. I joined the team with a verbal (unfortunately never written up or signed) agreement with the cofounder that I'd be able to move into a more senior role with a larger scope after my 2 month trial - he had reached out to me with the job opportunity claiming that he wanted my experience in HR program management and business operations.
Fast forward 6 months after multiple requests from me, he's just announced a new seniority ladder for my team. He's offered me a position that is one step up from my original one, and says that it is because I "have not proven my interest or ability to take on management functions" - this is entirely untrue (in my opinion) because I have multiple concrete situations that I've stepped up for. I had also explained to him that I was already working 50+ hr/week with the original duties and would be able to take on additional projects when he agreed to reassign some of my workload and compensate according to my updated job function/experience.
I'd almost let this situation slide since it was my fault for not insisting on my '2 month job promotion' details in writing, except for the fact that he's offered one of the newest people on the team the most senior position (the one that I was told I would have during my interview) as the team's manager because "she has had prior management experience" which note, I do as well... Additionally, this individual consistently uses accusatory/defensive language with our peers, shows no interest in collaboration or leadership (aside from making "executive decisions" without consulting anyone else), and uses very little critical thinking or reasoning in her day-to-day, the rest of the team is constantly helping her troubleshoot because is either unwilling or unable to do so herself.
Here's the thing, my boss told me that our new titles/pay have been decided based purely on our performance at his company and not based off of our education or prior experience so either he's using this excuse just on me, or he's made an exception for this other individual (I lean towards the latter because the rest of the team had pretty similar conversations to mine, and were placed in roles lower than they expected because "they still needed to prove their ability to get to the next level").
I am at a loss on how to have this conversation with my boss. Any suggestions on wording or how to phrase this when I meet with him next? Is it even worth it? Should I take this as lesson learned and walk away from the company? Or try to negotiate something different? I don't want to sound like I'm accusing him but at the same time, this situation does NOT line up at all. I am really not interested in staying with this company if he insists on me reporting to this other coworker (and several of our other colleagues have said the same thing to me in private). No one is happy with this decision, not to mention the big discrepancies in pay that will happen once he decides to officially implement this. He claims that peers are never happy when one is brought up as the manager, but he's not realizing that this is because he's decided to elevate her three steps up, while denying even a one step up for three others on the team who qualified. (Plus the details about this person's behavior.)
Any advice or perspective is massively appreciated. This is my first time at a startup and I am still early in my career (7 years). I am so emotionally and mentally wrapped up in this its very difficult to take a step back to assess logically at this point.