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I am a software developer at my company. I have worked for 3 projects and have had success. As a consequence, my skills and leadership acumen have been inflated and passed up the chain of command.

I now find myself removed from a stable project and placed into a rapid prototype project with high expectations of success. This placement was a direct request from some individual in higher management. I do not know who this person is.

For multiple reasons I do not wish to be on the rapid prototype project. I have project opportunities in another division away from the current management chain. I want to pursue these other opportunities but am unsure about the political impact this decision will have on my career going forward.

It is possible for me to reassign to another project without management consent but that approach is quite heavy-handed.

How can I tactfully ask for a project reassignment without burning the hand that placed me into my current project?


Update

Aligned myself according to @IDrinkandIKnowThings answer and placed transfer request to management.

Request was denied due to "importance" to the project/division growth. Communications of my discomfort are falling on deaf ears.

  • We cant force them to make a decision that benefits you. Just tell you how to show it will benefit them. It may be possible you will have to choose between making them happy or yourself happy. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 19 '18 at 16:33
  • I tried to frame the transfer as a positive for the company. Building interdivision relationships for rotational details with the benefit of my pursuit of a growth area that remained internal to the company. I will be taking time to ensure that I'm not falling for the greener grass too quickly. – D-Raz Apr 19 '18 at 17:57
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How can I tactfully ask for a project reassignment without burning the hand that placed me into my current project?

If you want to minimize the fallout, and improve the chances that it will be accepted, you will need to prepare your position for transition.

First find out what the need of the project is that requires your participation. i.e. what do you bring to the team that can not be replaced by someone else. Then groom the other members of the team to be able to competently complete those tasks.

Once you are confident in their ability, start delegating those tasks to them. Hand hold them as needed to make sure that you can demonstrate that you have brought the team up to speed.

Once the team is groomed and taking over those tasks that were once only assigned to you, look for a position that provides you with a chance to step up in an area you would rather work. It is less likely that they will let you go for a lateral move if your expertise was specifically requested for the project, but managers are less likely to object to rising star trying to grow in the company.

When you make the request, do not ever mention the idea that you want to escape your current team. It makes you look bad. Any reason you provide for wanting to move on should be about your growth, and not about any problems with the project, team, or management of it.

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    "what do you bring to the team that can not be replaced by someone else" This is the key and the main barrier to overcome. – Mister Positive Apr 19 '18 at 13:36
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How can I tactfully ask for a project reassignment without burning the hand that placed me into my current project?

The most tactful way would be to go to your immediate supervisor and talk to him about your concerns. He/she is the liaison between you and higher management and therefore once he understands your point he/she will be the voice that delivers those concerns.

Your immediate supervisor will also be able to shed more light on the circumstances / long term goals surrounding the decision which potentially alter your opinion.

Management at every company is different and handles things in a different manor which is why it's imperative to including your supervisor in on this.

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    I think it is important to mention that there are valid business concerns that are good to mention, and there are personal business concerns that are not. Telling management that you do not want work with a person is bad. Explaining how a certain person is hampering the project through specific actions is fine. But you need to steer very clear of the first, and only share those concerns which you can document and back up. Otherwise you are percieved as trying to cause trouble. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 2 '18 at 15:34
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Your 'other reasons' are valid for you. However, they are not to the senior management that asked for you to be on this project.

Some companies call these types of things 'stretch' goals. The entire point of this is you are moved to something a little beyond your current skills. Management believes you can do this based on your past performance. For this you should take this as a validation you are doing a good job. Embrace the project. This can greatly enhance your career and your position in your company. D-Raz will have a reputation of someone who can "get things done".

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