I recently took a new management position at a company and up until this week everything was going smoothly. My team was doing well and my manager was happy with my performance and in fact even gave me a performance bonus to my salary last month. Yesterday my company announced a major reorganization which calls to merge my division with our sister division. My manager is heading this new organization, however he has informed me that my counterpart will be assuming the role I once did on my former team and I will now be their deputy. I have only been at the company for 6 months and my counterpart has been here for over 3 years, seniority and office politics won out.

I’ve been seriously considering leaving the company the only drawback is the signing bonus I agreed to when I joined. If I leave now I have to pay back a significant portion of that back since I’m leaving well before my two year commitment is met.

I don’t believe I’m at risk of losing my job anytime soon. My manager has repeatedly told me I’m safe in his org and expressed feeling bad about the decision and wanting to look out for me. He wants to set up a one on one meeting to see what I want to do career wise and if there is somewhere else in his organization I may want to work at.

Any advice?

  • 6
    The obvious thing to do in the short term would be to have that 1-to-1 with your boss and see if a good option appears. Jun 16 '20 at 18:56
  • 30
    How would you feel if you'd been there for three years, and someone with only six months experience was given the decision instead of you? Talk to your manager, see what opportunities are there, and learn from the person who has more experience.
    – PeteCon
    Jun 16 '20 at 19:10
  • 28
    You haven't been demoted. Your counterpart has been promoted. You're considering leaving a company because you're (frankly) hurt with a reorganization for which you didn't come out on top. You're probably doing great, your manager probably thinks the world of you, and you're looking to stomp out like a spoiled child because your manager made a decision that was in the best interest of the company. Btw, your hours aren't "countless". They're very countable. Jun 16 '20 at 19:48
  • 55
    At the risk of sounding too cynical: I see a valuable lesson about skipping funerals and sacrificing one's life upon the altar of the company.
    – spuck
    Jun 16 '20 at 21:58
  • 22
    You seem to have omitted a critical (IMHO, anyway) bit of information: has your salary been reduced? If not, what's the problem? Most of us work for money (especially in the current climate), not job titles.
    – jamesqf
    Jun 17 '20 at 5:12

I don't necessarily see this as a demotion. There's a need for only one person in this role in the merged department. This role was awarded to someone who has more seniority/tenure in the company. That's not a demotion in the strict sense of the word. You weren't demoted to a lesser position. You simply weren't awarded the position in the merged department. There's a subtle, but important, distinction between the two.

Is this so upsetting to you that you'd consider leaving? Your question certainly makes it sound that way. Instead of leaving, why not make your concerns known to your manager and give this transition some time and see what transpires?

  • 10
    Its also possible that the poster's manager was extending an olive branch to the sister organization. By choosing a leader from the other group, he/she was signaling to the other group that they are very much a part of the company and valued.
    – spuck
    Jun 16 '20 at 21:57

Your first problem is one of perspective, and it's one you need to get over. Your boss now needs to manage a division he only knows half of. If he gives all of the leadership roles to the people who happen to be from his old division, then the folks from the new division will have strong reason to feel resentful, and rightly so - they'll assume he's playing favorites. That's especially the case if he puts someone like you (with only 6 months in) in charge of someone who's been there for years. He's doing what he can to faithfully execute the duties of his new position, and right now, that means being as visibly fair as he can be so as to minimize the inevitable morale damage. If anything, the people who did this to you were the ones who decided to merge your two organizations in the first place.

Now, you feel frustrated, and that's an entirely normal thing to feel. You clearly went above and beyond in the time you were there, and you had some hope that that meant you were building up some social credit with your boss. Now you find that that social credit wasn't enough to let you stay at the top of your team when it was your boss's call. Worse yet, they're not going to be your direct boss anymore, which means that the social credit just isn't worth as much anymore, and if you want to have that same sort of relationship with your boss again, you're going to have to build it fresh with this new guy (who you might even resent, at least a little).

Unfortunately, none of those instincts will help you here, but it's important to acknowledge them and admit that you have them (to the degree that you do have them) so that you can move on and not let them poison the situation you're in. No one has actually betrayed you. No one has wronged you. Sad as it is, the entirely normal bitterness you feel right now does not serve you. It can only make things worse.

My suggestion? Treat it (emotionally) like a job change. Your entire division was laid off by higher-up, and you managed to get a job in the new one. You have a new boss and a new role with at least somewhat new responsibilities. Try to approach it fresh, and give yourself some time to settle in. If you find that your new role and new boss are working out for you? Great. Stay where you are, get some more seniority, pick up some more social credit, and see if you can't make the next realignment be a bit more in your favor. If somehow your boss or your new role are simply intolerable? That's when you start thinking about leaving early... just like you might with any new job that turned out to be intolerable. Even in that case, though, you should try having one last talk with your now-boss before you go, explain your problems, and see if he can help. It's not like the social credit you've built up is worthless.

Protip: the only time you go to your boss's boss to fix a problem without having gone to your boss first is when your boss is the problem, and you have strong reason to believe that talking with them about it won't help.

  • 2
    Insightful, considered, and thoughtful. Great answer.
    – joeqwerty
    Jun 16 '20 at 20:03
  • 1
    Thank you for your insight. It was honest but it’s what I needed. As stated in the original post I understand the decision but it was still a tough pill to swallow (I’m human). I think I’m going to take the rest of this year and give this company a fair shake and help the team. Do you think it would be a good idea for me to mention to my old manager during my one on one I may be looking at transferring to other projects within the company? Jun 17 '20 at 0:32
  • @TrevorAustin I'd suggest letting it ride for a bit first, and seeing what your new boss is like. You don't want to transfer projects from a good boss to a bad one - transferring once can be cheap enough, in the relevant currencies, but transferring twice in quick succession is not. If you give it a try, and it's not working for you, then you can talk about transferring.
    – Ben Barden
    Jun 17 '20 at 13:49

Your manager had a problem caused by the reorganization - two managers and one management job. Your manager's immediate holding action was to make the more senior one manager and the less senior their deputy. So far, so good, but that arrangement is not a good long term solution.

For the longer term, a good manager would be looking to move you to some job that would make better use of your skills and dedication than the deputy manager job. The suggested one-on-one may be a step in that direction.

I suggest deferring any decision to leave for about 6 months, to give your manager and the company some time.

Go into the one-on-one in a constructive frame of mind. Think about how you want your career to go, and where you see yourself in a few years time. Be prepared to discuss options and alternatives.

While you are waiting for developments, do your best to help your new immediate manager merging and coordinating what were two separate teams, and organizing the combined team's relations with the rest of the now combined division. Your division generally will need extra management thinking and people-handling to deal with the reorganization.

In about 6 months, reevaluate your situation and prospects, and make a stay/leave decision. If nothing has been done, and you are still in the deputy manager job with no immediate prospect of a better job with your current employer, I would get looking outside the company. You can, of course, take a look around and polish your resume during the 6 months, so if you decide to leave you are ready to fire off applications immediately.

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