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I have led a department within a large US company over the last 10 years. About a year ago, I got a new boss, who is #2 in the company and has the power to make whatever decision he wants. He is from Germany and is extremely hard to read. He says he supports me and my department but his actions and comments say otherwise. It has gotten to the point where the stress of my perceived lack of support has made me look for another position.

I have found another opportunity that seems like a good fit if I decided to leave my current employer. The role would be a slightly elevated role with a larger company. The pay is almost double but this really isn’t about pay. I am so miserable that I need him to be firm and vocal in his support of me with my peers (who seem to be piling on). I am ready to walk without significant changes. I realize this may all be a communication issue since the Europeans have a much different management style. He will tell me directly how valuable to the organization and I’m doing a great job. On the other hand, he will be extremely critical of me in front of my peers. It does not appear to me that he does this to any of his other direct reports. I feel like I could be asked to resign any day, but this also may just be a misunderstanding based on his style.

I would want several changes to stay. Basically he could say all the right things to keep me - which he probably will, but I would want some type of employment contract to ensure he is serious when he says he supports me and is pleased with my performance. This is not an unreasonable request for someone at my level, although it is not standard. I really don’t want to leave, I enjoy the company, people and area, but I can’t live thinking everyday might be my last. My kids are at a horrible stage to move, which my new position would require. I can’t hurt my promotion chances since I am already as high as I will go in the company.

Does anyone have advice on how I should resign, while leaving the door slightly open to discuss what it would take for me to stay? If he is unwilling, I am 100% ready to move to the next company. I would want to do this in a way that if he is willing to work with me, it would not jeopardize our future relationship. I also don’t want to leave the company on a bad note. This is a tough situation but I feel I have nothing to lose versus just turning in my resignation. Any advice?

  • As someone from germany, I would assume that most of it is a culture clash. Critizing in front of peers is pretty normal, its actually a sign that he values you - because he sees you as someone who can address these issues. I'd be more concerned about a boss who constantly told me how great i was and didn't have anything to criticize. – Polygnome Sep 17 '18 at 10:05
  • And what do you mean by "support" and enforcing it in a contract? – Battle Sep 18 '18 at 10:14
  • Thank you everyone for great feedback. There is advice in each one of these answers I can use. I am going to visit this new company again next week to look at houses and meet with the head of HR. I still am not sure of what I will do but I am fully vetting the option of leaving before making any decision. – user92287 Sep 20 '18 at 1:36
  • seems like no brianer, double pay and you get to leave your current "boss" who is stressing you out. – NULL.Dude Sep 20 '18 at 16:40
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I can hear the pain in your description regarding your current position. You are really taking the right steps regarding lining up a new position. You should commit you mind and sanity to the new direction and the opportunity it presents after the 10 year stint that you have been through in your current role.

As others have stated the best way to address the resignation and moving on is to communicate that this about you and your desires to move your career in a slightly different direction. There will be no real value to make any bad vibes about your current company or any of the people there. Simply make a smooth move into the transition continuing to execute your current job to the best of your ability to the last day.

It has been my experience that once you set your path and mind on a transition that the best course of action is to not veer from that direction despite the possible incentives or counter offers that may be presented when you turn in your resignation.

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I would want some type of employment contract to ensure he is serious when he says he supports me and is pleased with my performance

It is very unlikely to happen.

My kids are at a horrible stage to move, which my new position would require.

Family well being is very important, so your choice is as much as your well being than your family well being.

I can’t hurt my promotion chances since I am already as high as I will go in the company.

If you can't go up in your current company you can just say you leave to find new challenges, after 10 year at executive level it is normal to leave a company, it is healthy.

So to reply to your question:

How to resign but leave door open

You can leave on good term by saying : "after 10 years in the company I feel so lucky to have the chance to work with you and learn so much and now I want to keep on learning that is why unfortunately I will leave this company but i hope to come back one day." This explanation is reasonable and everybody will accept it.

Don't mention your boss.

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If I understood your question correctly you're NOT asking how to leave in good terms but how to discuss this possibility.

Does anyone have advice on how I should resign, while leaving the door slightly open to discuss what it would take for me to stay?

Simply ask a 1:1 meeting with your boss and straight ask him:

You often praise me and my team but you often openly and publicly critiques my work. I understand it might just be a culture clash but I need to know if I should interpret this as an hint that I do not fit our company anymore or as a constructive critique.

Slightly stress the word publicly. Be ready to clarify the reason behind your concerns, he may not be aware of these cultural differences. I assume he is aware that there are differences between German and American cultures and he is ready to change his behavior.

His management style won't - probably - change quickly but if you're both aware of this then you'll both actively work to solve it.

  • Want or need to know, not love. I’d love to win the lottery, I need to get paid this month. – jmoreno Sep 17 '18 at 11:46
  • @jmoreno I intended love as a more polite form of need (as in "I'd like to know") but I'm not a native speaker, tnx I changed that. – Adriano Repetti Sep 17 '18 at 11:49
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I'd prefer to part on good terms. Be polite and respectful. You never know what the future holds. I have found over may decades in the workplace and now as the Managing Director of my own company it pays not to burn bridges. Sometimes we have to walk away from jobs or deals just has we have to make these decisions in our personal lives. Be clear in your own mind about your decision.

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    +1 Give your 110% to your actual boss, be helpful with everybody and be positive all the way to your last day. If there is any exit interview, do not say anything bad or reveal your real motive, emphasis on your position advantages and the company strengths. Some people will connect the dots about your departure. – Sebastien DErrico Sep 17 '18 at 3:12

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