3

Back to my previous question Asking for training during annual performance review about 2 years ago.

I am still with the same company for personal reasons that didn't allow me to move to another company. I got a promotion which took 18 months to actually start working on the new role and a small salary bump (2k GBP). I am now a Systems Engineer and I got a new manager, which we have been working with since I've started with this company.

As with every year, back in April, we had our yearly review and once again, for the 4th time, I've raised that issue of training and what I want to be trained on.

Since then I've heard nothing as usual. Today out of the blue, my new manager came to me and said to pick out a course and he will put me to it.

The problem is that the team's environment at the moment is hostile. Speaking to my manager is very difficult as anything can set him off and he puts you very easily in a defensive mode. He forgets things or he made things out of his own mind. He almost read emails on project updates.

All the other members of the department (7) have issues with him and two or three have raised this with HR and our department manager directly. I am the only one that still hasn't raised any issues as I am not a comforting person.

We haven't had our monthly 1-2-1 for 3 months now. I am fed up with the situation and my luck or progress personally and professionally.

I have looked around and I am actually a finalist to move to a position which is closer to where I am looking to move and will offer a 5k increase in salary. Where I am looking to move also will decrease the cost of leaving by about 100-200 GBP per month maybe even more. So it would be like I am getting a substantial financial bump.

The problem is that the training I was offered by the company I am working for is coming as a sponsorship, which means that If I leave before 2 years after the training I have to pay for the training itself.

My manager is pushing me to give him the training course details ASAP within 24 hours, or never speak to him about training again!?! If I say I don't want training it would look stupid and suspicious. If I say yes I put myself in debt of about 2k-2.5k which I just don't have spare, lying around.

Any ideas about how to handle the situation?

  • How soon do you expect the offer might come through? – thursdaysgeek Aug 13 at 17:54
  • Is the company paying for the training? – JazzmanJim Aug 13 at 18:50
  • I am expecting an amswer maybe early next week. Yes the company is paying for the training but we a clause that if I leave in less than 2 years i will have to pay for it. – Papous13 Aug 13 at 20:13
5

It sounds to me like this manager is disorganized and doing a lot of things at the last minute when the pressure is high. Perhaps someone reminded them of a deadline to submit names for training or something. Even if you would be obliged to repay the training if you left, they pay for it to begin with so it has to come out of some sort of budget. And on getting this "hey everyone Wednesday is the last day to submit training requests" email the manager remembers you wanted training and asks you to name a course on short notice and get this mess taken care of.

Lesson 1: if you want training, don't want just random general training, want something specific. You know what you want to be trained on. If you manager catches you in the hall and says "what do you want to be trained on?" you should know the answer.

Now, if you tell them you want to learn Introduction to Advanced Whatevering and then a week later someone tells you that you're registered for in in November, and remember if you leave us less than 2 years later you owe us for this course, then you can decline at that point, either because of the state of your projects in November or because you've already accepted another job.

As for the "never mention it again" business, I would ignore that. This manager may get replaced, you may leave this company, or this manager may forget what they said or never meant it in the first place.

4

It is unfortunate but common that offers like "free training", "tuition assistance", or "free education" come with strings attached. A "pay us back if you leave within some defined period of time" clause is a particularly common requirement. Remember, the whole point is that the business wants to be sure paying for something is useful to them, it is not a charitable gift to you.

I see a few main options going forward:

  1. Consider if you think the training offered would be actually worth the price if you decided to leave and had to pay for it, and of course that you could reasonable find a way to actually pay for it if it came to that. If so, great, go for it. If not...

  2. Try to delay to a future time. If things are busy, you can say you are very grateful for the opportunity but have too many things going on right now - you can cite undefined personal reasons if the training would happen on your own time, and/or work reasons such as being too busy. The problem with citing work busyness is they can just decline your suggestion and tell you to do it now or stop bugging them about it. They may not accept this deferral, and just say now or never, etc.

  3. Just do it and accept that if you get the job you want you'll have to pay back the cost when you leave - assuming that you have decided you could actually pay for it, even if it might be painful to do so. Since you don't have the other job, it is not like you are certain you won't be staying where you are for longer. Chalk it up as a lesson in being careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

  4. Decline. You can say if it is specifically because you don't want to agree to the strings attached (will make it very clear you don't intend to stay that much longer), or just that you have decided you have gained enough experience on your own that it is not worth the time and money, or just say no.

You can say, if you want, "I can't at this time, I won't bug you about it further" if you've decided to drop it and move on - after all, if you don't want to take the training with the payback clause, why would you not want to agree not to mention it again in the future? Seems like a comparatively easy way out of the situation! Sure they will be annoyed that they finally agreed to something you've been asking for for years, but it sounds like you are all annoyed with each other anyway.

Try to be gracious and professional, regardless of your decision, and keep working on other options.

  • Thanks for laying out all my options. No 4 is what I am looking at to be honest. I would love to say No2 but they won't bite it. – Papous13 Aug 13 at 20:15
  • #2 doesn't help anyway. If the training is worth the financial risk or not is likely going to be about the same "later" rather than "now" - inability to make a decision is indeed your problem not your manager's problem. – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Aug 14 at 14:54

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