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I am eight months into my first full-time job. I have a specialized skill set post-graduation, and have been working in a mid-sized R&D company. A recent reorganization relocated my team from our current place in the company. As part of this reorg, we changed managers, job descriptions, and job responsibilities.

Instead of working across groups within the company, we now report to the highest level of the company directly. It has been strongly implied that this indicates increased trust and responsibility, which is supported by the reality of our changing work requirements.

However, the reorg has substantively altered our job functions by removing the portion of the work I was enjoying, and has instead focused me on labor I dislike & feel is relatively uninteresting to me personally. I am no longer learning from my work, despite the fact that I can do it well. Additionally, my skill set is now extremely underutilized. One side-effect is an order-of-magnitude uptick in stress.

I want to talk with my manager about this, but talking with him carries some risk. Our previous jobs - and our previous work - functionally no longer exist, period end. There is no "moving back," and even aside, we were moved because we were needed. I also don't have a good solution to offer, and expressing dislike with my current position will sound aimless and dejected.

I could potentially ask to be moved to a different project area, but no matter which way it's cut, it would also cause a major headache for me to leave. We've subsumed an important corporate function, and I'd rather not be a headache this early in my career.

How can I balance these needs? I obviously need to talk about this with my manager, but can I do it without jeopardizing my job security, and without compromising on my own enjoyment of my work? What kind of risk does this situation put me in?


(As an aside, finding a new job at a different company is a costly option for me. I have nothing negative professionally, but I am transgender, and it often takes us far more time to find a job anywhere in skilled labor, a situation which is often worse in STEM industry.)

  • Why do you think discussing this with your manager would jeopardise your job security? – trashpanda Dec 21 '18 at 11:07
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I want to talk with my manager about this, but talking with him carries some risk.

It certainly does - the "I'm not happy chat" is sometimes necessary and can be effective. You need to have a clear goal in mind though otherwise it's all risk and no reward. And as you say you don't have a solution

There is no "moving back," and even aside, we were moved because we were needed. I also don't have a good solution to offer, and expressing dislike with my current position will sound aimless and dejected.

That said if you're reached the point where it's a case of something has to change or you leave then it may be worth having an honest chat with them because there might be a solution you haven't thought of.

As you say there can be complications for you in changing jobs because of your transgender status - it's not fair, right or legal but let's not pretend that there aren't employers out there who will find some totally unrelated and nothing to do with that (honest!) reason not to offer you a job. So I would be wary of mentioning the words "leave", "resign", or "quit" in any chat with your boss until you have something else signed and sealed.

Instead you can say things like:

Is there anything we could do to bring some/more of X into my role? I understand the reasons and need for the recent changes but I feel like I have more to offer and it seems a shame not to utilize my skills in X

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What would happen if you got hit by a bus tomorrow? Could it be that you overestimate how critical you are to the team and are you perhaps overly loyal to your employer? This is something many, many highly educated and motivated young people (myself included) do. Yes, a skilled worker leaving is always a headache. It sucks for your colleagues, it sucks for your manager. And it’s orders of magnitude worse for highly specialized functions. However, it is the job of your manager to ensure that your team contains a mix of people that guarantees that the team can continue to function in absence of any one team member. Taking an active role in ensuring continuity is desirable, but don’t put that responsibility on yourself.

Ask yourself: What do you need to maximize your ROI for the company and your personal long-term growth? To what extent can these two goals be achieved together? If they cannot be combined in an acceptable fashion, then it is time to look elsewhere. Roles change over time - be it quickly due to restructuring, or slowly due to technological or societal changes. This is quite normal, as is the fact that people may grow to dislike their role as a consequence of changes. Your manager likely knows and understands this. You could be at risk if: You’re in an at-will state, your manager is not happy with your performance or if further restructuring slashes the size of your team. If you are under the impression that your manager and colleagues like the quality of your work, then your manager will probably prefer you doing other work, to you working for someone else. Getting and training a new specialist is a major hassle.

In the first conversation with your manager, discuss intent (‘I would like to transition into a different role…), position in the org (…ideally under your supervision / in this team…’), content (‘I would like to do more relating to…’) and timeframe (‘…in the next year or so…‘). Don’t demand, don’t complain, just tell him how you feel. Unless you’ve been very clear about your preferences before, stating your preferences is all you do at first. Since any role will have some busywork that you do because you can and not because you like it, you want to emphasize the work you would like to do over the work you would like to stop doing.

He may ask you whether or not you have thought of specific roles and tasks. Be honest, especially if you don’t know yet. I would suggest taking a week or two to ‘think on it’ and making your suggestions in a second meeting. Before you get into specifics, inventory your current tasks and responsibilities. Look at other roles and responsibilities in your team and the company and what you would like about those. It may be possible to change your role, of have you work more with other departments. Make concrete suggestions, and ensure that the workload remains reasonable and the division of work is logical with respect to company processes. Look at which responsibilities you could discharge, to whom and what training/resources that would take. Be generous but insistent about the timeframe: The change may not be as fast as it could be, but your manager must demonstrate a willingness to enact change. If the manager won’t act and you’re unable to motivate him, then it is time to leave. If you feel that you cannot be patient, accept that you’ve let this go on too long already. All you can do is to leave and resolve to discuss it sooner in the future.

How long can you continue to deliver quality if nothing changes? Leaving on good terms is always preferable to burning out or slacking off.

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