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In the past, my manager has given me additional employees which were loosely connected to my team's functions. Although it was outside of my zone, I was OK with it, because it was a growth opportunity. Some time later we rehired a lead who fits this function, and my manager just moved the recently added employees. He tried his best to make it seem like this is what I wanted, but we both knew this was not the case. I told him I was very upset about it since the career growth at the company is not clear and number of people/projects you manage is a major key indicator. I suggested the new lead could be placed under me, but this was not acceptable. After a discussion, I was promised a "refill" of the team. As we received new employees in the company, they did not come to me. Eventually I got a refill, but they were with non-senior employees.

Just recently, my manager suggested moving another set of employees off of my team as a growth opportunity for an SE on a technical path who wanted to switch to management path. He believes that the technical path does not have true growth like the management path does. I was a bit taken back, because my manager keeps making false promises left and right. I suggested moving this SE under me, then the team refactor would be OK. Otherwise, I would not be OK with this. My manager did not bring it up again, but I have a feeling he is going to change the team dynamic. How would you go about this situation? From what I can see, either you accept it or leave, but perhaps there is something else I'm missing.

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    You've mentioned staff being removed from your team in order to provide a growth opportunity or satisfy a career path change for people elsewhere in your organisation. Perhaps you need to arrange a meeting with your manager where you can outline your career path, and get them to commit to providing you the same opportunities. – fubar Jul 31 at 2:00
  • @fubar I've brought up the career path planning (along with other leads). There hasn't been any real word on it and it's been a few months. – But I'm Not A Wrapper Class Jul 31 at 2:29
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    Sounds like it's time to do it again then. Even if you say something like... "With all the changes to my team, I thought it'd be good to reiterate my own career ambitions and agree a career plan with you, which I can work towards". I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease. – fubar Jul 31 at 2:36
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    Agree with @fubar, you would need to have that 1-to-1 and agree on your own career plan. The uncertainty is having an effect on you. If you don't get the commitment at least you know where you stand and then you can make a decision on if you would want to leave or not. – fran Jul 31 at 8:30
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As a manager, I see two immediate underlying view points as to why I would regularly send members into your team and move them on to other teams or departments, and have some commentary on the perhaps subconscious thought processes behind them.

  1. You are a good people person and have some good management and mentoring traits that mean that overall the staff who are on-boarded through your team have better long-term retention and/or they are generally inducted quickly into the company ethos.

    • I might not genuinely identify this as my reason, but I have a hunch that new staff do better long term if they start with you and this is good for the company overall.
    • Perhaps you are competent enough to maintain output even through inductions when this would severely incapacitate or disrupt other teams.
    • Perhaps I keep doing this to you though because on paper this is a hard metric to trace, I want to exploit this ability of yours without granting you higher remuneration or responsibilities for as long as I can while no one else notices.
    • I might be personally worried that your people/management skills may exceed my own even though you have less experience and therefor I find you a threat to my current position.
    • Overall on paper your team has a high attrition rate, the productivity is adequate, but nothing to champion, compared to other teams as yours is already less settled than others it is the best candidate for additional disruptions, the reasons how the pattern originated are not clear but it is a pattern that overall works and we have stuck to it.
  2. I value your team's contribution to the company poorly and really don't want to put the effort into new personnel or can't afford other teams to waste their time doing so. For this reason I handball the induction and probation process to you.

    • By poaching the new staff that are developing well I can boost the productivity of mine or other teams before your time and effort can be attributed to their success.

    • Inductions are really time consuming and I don't have time to develop the process in a way that other any team could easily manage the task, If I had to pick a team to take the hit, I pick yours.

    • I might not even be concerned with how good you may be at this task, I simply do not want to put the effort in, but you keep doing it, so I'm going to keep handballing this task to you

Either they see some value in your mentoring of new staff, or they see your time as a lower cost option to waste on on-boarding and vetting new staff.

If they really really do have a negative mindset against you, and you are subordinate to them, then you're in a really tight space where it will be hard to take this head-on without risking your position.

Instead take the high road on this one, identify then find a way to explain the value proposition for your role in this process and that you could do a far better job at both your current role and at inducting new staff if your had more senior staff with mentoring asperations or qualities and more stability in your team. You are happy to take on the burden of this role because you can see the long term value that it offers to the company but you could do it better and in doing so it would reflect favorably on those who helped make it so.

The point of this approach is that it blind-sides any deliberately underhanded tactics against you without negatively affecting anyone else or the company as a whole. If done well you should attract attention from other key stakeholders while offering them an acceptable explanation as to why your team doesn't land and maintain the same number of projects as others.

  • If there are no negative feelings, then you could be seen as taking the bull by the horns, do it well and it will help you in the company standings, you've provided a distraction from the usual narrative about success within the company.

That said it is probably a good time to evaluate your options, you're correct that in most organisations the number of projects awarded to a team is usually seen as a badge that identifies those teams as being reliable, dependable or otherwise superior. But its only 1 metric of success, having experience developing new staff and maintaining effort looks wonderful on a resume for the next role, but only if it's backed up when they call in the character reference, so even if your resolve is to leave, its time to step out from the shadows and start a new narrative about your contribution.

Perhaps its not about the staff and inductions at all, perhaps your team is efficient at starting projects and or facilitating others to the point where they don't want to hold you down on long running projects, they deliberately want you available to assist with many projects. If this is the case, then apply the same reasoning, turn this around so that when an external party calls asking about your performance, they only hear your praises.

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Are you entitled to extra persons on your team, so you will get extra growth opportunities within the company? Are your subordinates your personal peons to give you status? I find these very strange thoughts. Nowhere you mention that you actually need more people in your team because your current team has to much on it's plate or it misses someone with a specific skill set. I think the only thing you can hold against your boss is that he/she didn't state to you clearly this obvious truth.

Update,

I realise I didn't give you an actual clear advice, here it is. If you want extra persons assigned to your team and keep them, then show/convince your boss/the company that you need additional people to do the tasks assigned to you. Don't talk about how leading a larger team would be good for your career.

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