Want to change teams to escape horrendous line manager.

  1. To ask to change, first approach hiring manager of potential new team? Or HR? Or manager-of-manager? Or someone else?

  2. Wait till dust settles from major, company-wide reorg that's led to lots of people leaving? Or is it an advantage?


In some ways this is a follow-up* from this question, which blew up.

My question now is: in what order should I ask various stakeholders to change to a different sub-team?

My notion is:

  1. Approach potential new manager to assess whether they feel it's plausible for me to join, then

  2. Manager of my manager to hear whether they're ok with me changing, then

  3. My current (terrible) manager to tell him I'm going to change?

Or some other ordering? I don't think there's a formalized process for this at the company (update: I read the entire employee handbook, and there's no mention of anything like this) -- perhaps I should try to check with our HR first? Although I'm inherently distrustful of HR.

Second question: major re-org has just happened, too, and several people have left as well from the greater team. Is it better to wait until the dust settles from the re-org?

* Long story short, it somewhat blew over as I wasn't PIP-ed (my line manager felt I began doing better than PIP range (although still poorly)), I managed to get a well-recognized company-wide project completed despite all this, and now feel I have enough leverage to ask to change managers.

  • @JoeStrazzere yes, especially given folks leaving due to reorg. Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 20:13

2 Answers 2


In my experience, right after the shake up is when you want to try to get your move - I wouldn't wait.

I've managed teams for about 11 years now. If someone goes to HR first, that would either really tick me off, or make me feel bad, depending on whether I knew there was an issue or not. And as an executive, I know you'd be labeled as a trouble maker. (I don't like it, I don't agree with it, but I'm just telling you what I know from experience.)

If it were me, I'd start with the department I want to move to (assuming you know). Is there an opening? If so, let that manager know you are interested, and one of the reasons is that you think you'd work better under another manager. There are ways to get this across without making it all about the other manager. I personally am a fairly hands off type manager - if you are doing your work and getting it all done on time, correctly, I'm probably not bugging you too much. And for some people, that's not what they want. I currently have an employee who will be transitioning out of my department into another for this reason - he wants more interaction and team building type relationships, and I don't have time for it, but another manager does, and he's very "let's see what you are working on" all of the time. I personally think they will make a great fit together, and I'm not upset for the move. My company gets to keep a valued employee, he'll likely be happier, and we'll all be better for it. If you come at it like, "I just don't think you are getting my best work in this situation, but this other department seems like a better fit", everyone may be happier. Maybe you can split time between the two so your current department isn't left short. (That's what my person is doing - he's been sharing his time since the summer. We started with one day per week of him joining their calls to get acquainted with their processes. Then each month we add one more day to his working in the other department. He's only in my department one day per week now, and then he'll be done completely in December.)

  • Thank you for this thoughtful, detailed, and experienced response. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 20:35
  • Do you think it's worth a shot going to HR and asking them for their advice on who to speak with and in what order (while stressing that I do not want HR to take any action on their part to make it happen?) The risk here is that they blab anyway, which might upset folks, as you warn. The upside is that I might get some helpful advice, as our interests are aligned inasmuch as we both want me to have productive, pleasant working environment. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 20:37

My question now is: in what order should I ask various stakeholders to change to a different sub-team?

I don't think there's a formalized process for this at the company -- perhaps I should try to check with our HR first?

Since you don't appear to know/understand the proper protocol at your company, your first visit should be with HR, to ask about it.

Every company has different protocols and requirements for in-house transfers. Since you have recently been in your current manager's bad graces (listed as underperforming with a possible PIP to follow), you should learn the proper way to do this in your company, and make sure to follow the rules very carefully.

Presumably, your current manager will not be on your side with your transfer request. And if you choose to go around them, HR may not be on your side either. In August you indicated that you had been with this company for less than a year, so it's hard to see how much leverage you could have.

You may well be inherently distrustful, but your best bet is to start with HR, and follow their recommendations.

  • 1
    How likely is it that there is a formalized protocol for this at a relatively small, relatively new tech company? Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 20:14

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