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I've been working as a manufacturing engineer at a plant in a Dow 30 corporation for 2 years. When I joined I was told I can move around the company after 2 years. I realized I'm not growing in my role and I applied for an internal role as a data scientist. My direct manager is originally supportive but as I got close to getting an offer, upper management blocked my transfer because "I've been doing a good job." The hiring manager still wants me.

With the pandemic, I really don't want to work in a plant anymore. I started job searching and now got an offer as a data scientist from a lesser known company, with equal pay.

I got about a week or so before I need to make a decision. Should I just break the news to my employer that I got an offer but I wish to stay within the company and ask them to expedite my transfer request? It's either that, or I give them a 2 weeks notice soon, so they are going to find out anyway. Honestly, I prefer to stay within my current company. But I don't want to sound like I'm threatening them.

Advice?

  • 47
    I think you're an example of the Dilbert Principle, which is now more realistic than the Peter principle. Unless you want to work for a Dilberty company, I would gladly seize this opportunity to move on... – Laurent S. Aug 13 at 14:16
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    You need to move on. I've had this same thing happen to me. Manager told me, "You're too valuable to move into a higher position but we'll give you a raise." Months later they provided a less than inflation level raise and I had someone recruit me into a role in a different company that paid double. Oops, they lost their "too valuable" employee. – mkingsbu Aug 13 at 17:38
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    They treat you like this and you wish to stay? You might have stockholm syndrome. – MonkeyZeus Aug 13 at 19:27
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    Why do you wish to stay with a company that broke their promise to you? – RBarryYoung Aug 13 at 21:35
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    I know of a situation where the engineer wanted to move internally, but his immediate supervisor said, "No, I want you to be our <some title>." The engineer used these words: "I don't feel that is in my best career interest." The supervisor didn't pay attention. A month later the engineer gave notice. The supervisor said, "I had no idea this was coming!" The engineer then said another perfect sentence: "Well, you should have." So I offer those two sentences for your use. – B. Goddard Aug 13 at 21:54

13 Answers 13

204

When I joined I was told I can move around the company after 2 years...upper management blocked my transfer because "I've been doing a good job."

Obviously they lied. Upper management is not only betraying you, but also undercutting your direct manager.

There are two good reasons why you should leave your current position.

  1. Upper management is greedy and selfish and doesn't care a whit whether you're happy or not. It also show that they are foolish and shortsighted because they don't know or care that a thwarted employee will either leave, or stay but do poor work.

    You have been told that your reward for doing a good job is to be stalled at your current position. Their attitude will not change. Even if you didn't look for another job, and just decided to swallow the insult and stay, you can expect this kind of abuse to continue.

  2. If you use the threat of leaving to successfully force them to expedite your transfer request, you will become marked as an effective and dangerous adversary who once humiliated upper management. People do not rise to positions of power without big egos, and most of them are extremely sensitive to any perceived threat to their omnipotence.

    You can expect that at least one upper manager will take your offer to bargain as a personal threat. He will eventually find a way to get even. Probably when you do not have a better offer on the table.

In general, when your workplace is so unsatisfactory that you have been put to the trouble of finding another job, the best common wisdom is to never accept a counteroffer to stay. You never shed the taint of disloyalty.

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  • 49
    I would not risk speaking to management first, you're marking yourself as a flight risk and this workplace only cares about keeping you where you are regardless of your own effort and endeavor. Take the other job, sign the contract, put in your notice and don't accept a counter offer - Your current employers have shown you they are not worth your loyalty or trust. – Old Nick Aug 13 at 7:15
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    +1 for "Never accept a counter offer. " – gnasher729 Aug 13 at 7:54
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    "I've been doing a good job." - this. They are looking a person who will do good job without any reward. Talking is cheap. Free even. If they valued yoou they would help you grow in your role. – SZCZERZO KŁY Aug 13 at 8:22
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    Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but this seems like a very negative view of the employer. There is a lot going on at the moment and it's possible there are legitimate reasons for not allowing anyone to change role in the short term. (Changing company is still the solution, but I wouldn't take it personally or hold a grudge that "Upper management is greedy and selfish") – DBS Aug 13 at 8:57
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    @OldNick Not at all, which is why I said "Changing company is still the solution". I just don't think we should assume malicious intent with the information we currently have. – DBS Aug 13 at 10:22
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There is one place where you do not want to end up:

The job offer expires or is withdrawn, and you end up staying with your current company in the same role.

Personally, I never give notice until I have a start date my new company - so my maximally cautious advice while still holding a very faint glimmer of hope for a new position at your current company is this:

  • Accept the new job offer immediately.
  • Receive, sign, and return the contract.
  • Receive a letter confirming your start date.
  • Have a meeting with the relevant bosses at your current company, and make it absolutely clear you want to move to being a data scientist right away.
  • If you get any answer at all other than "here's the paperwork (treat a verbal promise as worthless) confirming your new position and salary, you start on Monday", hand in your notice.

You will end up leaving. Don't worry, you'll probably love your new job. On top of that, you will now be a data scientist, and applying for other data scientist roles anywhere just got that much easier.

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  • 43
    I would not try to get the position in the old company after signing the contract, because it is a commitment. – lvella Aug 13 at 13:30
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    @lvella to be honest neither would I, personally. But while it's a bit rude it's not at all unheard of to back out of a job offer. – Grimm The Opiner Aug 13 at 13:33
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    Great advice with one addendum, Do NOT attempt to stay at your present company in a new role, broken trust is extremely hard to reacquire, and you will always wonder if you are on their chopping block – Strader Aug 13 at 15:36
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    @Strader. Absolutely true. But leaving and coming back some years later is a whole different story. – Mad Physicist Aug 13 at 21:27
  • That just feels icky...don't be That Guy. – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Aug 14 at 12:43
49

They already know. Management doesn't know you have an offer on the table at this exact moment, but they know that seeking a transfer to another role is a sign of being dissatisfied in some way with your current position. They know that dissatisfaction will eventually lead to looking outside the company, and if they're smart, they will plan as if it's already happening. If they truly think you are "doing a good job," they will take steps to retain you.

They know you are at risk of leaving, and for whatever reason, they have decided to take that risk. You shouldn't feel like you owe them any additional warning.

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  • This is an interesting answer, but it's totally the first time I've ever heard anything like that. Do you happen to have any source? – o0'. Aug 14 at 5:04
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    Yeah, any management who don't know that initially giving a green light to a lateral move to an employee who's dissatisfied with their current role and then withdrawing that and telling them to stay put means that employee will be moving on elsewhere is incompetent management. While that could be true, it's more likely they just don't care. Move on. – T.J. Crowder Aug 14 at 8:27
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    This. They blocked a transfer that you requested. They would have to be absolute morons to believe that you'll just accept that and do nothing. They may be surprised at the speed you are moving, that you secured a new position during the pandemic, they may have estimated that you will do your old job for half a year or a year before moving on, but unless their IQ is barely above room temperature, they know that blocking your transfer request means they'll lose you. – Tom Aug 14 at 14:21
  • @Tom, you would be suprised how many people think about what's in their own best interest, and then they somehow imagine that people around them will also do what's in their best interest, without ever considering what's in those people's best interest. – gnasher729 Aug 18 at 21:15
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I kind of agree with A. I. Breveleri´s answer, but I want to offer a softer approach.

As a general rule: Don´t ever tell them about the other offer unless you have decided to switch and the contract with your new employer is signed!

What you can do, if you really want to stay, is try to give them a "last warning" (don´t call it that ;). Explain that you currently feel you are not able to grow professionally in this environment. Also state that the reason to deny your transfer because "you are doing a good job" is not satisfactory - it would mean you´d have do a bad job to progress in this company and that does not send a particularly motivating message. Ask them to give you a clear and written commitment for your career path inside the company.

There is no need to mention the other offer. If you let your manager know you are not happy with your current position and are running out of patience he will know he is about to loose you soon. If nothing is done about it, obviously, the company does not care.

So if they do not give you any commitment to support you in your professional development or if you are not satisfied with what they offer, take the other offer. Then, hand in your notice. Don´t renegotiate after accepting the other offer - the time to do so has passed.

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  • I think that if you already have a signed contract with the new company it's a bit late to threaten the old company with "I'm going to leave if you don't treat me right". Depending on how the old company responds to that threat and how you react to their response you have the potential to both piss off both the old and new companies at the same time. And there may even be legal consequences from the new company if you don't fulfill that contract. – Peter M Aug 13 at 13:51
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    @PeterM Where do you get the impression that OP has signed a contract? – eirikdaude Aug 13 at 13:52
  • OP never stated anything like that in his question. If you are talking about what's written in this answer, that is clearly a piece of advice independent of the other actions suggested here. @PeterM – eirikdaude Aug 13 at 13:56
  • @eirikdaude Of course I meant the op of the answer I was replying to, and that my comment was clearly referring to that answer, where the "signed contract" aspect was clearly stated. – Peter M Aug 13 at 13:59
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    @Peter M You don´t tell them "or else". You tell them you are not happy and ask if they can offer you something to make you happy. If the can´t, you sign the other offer and quit. If they come around with $$$$ after you quit, you tell them: Thanks, but no! – Daniel Aug 13 at 14:30
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The company you are working for will be hiring again. I think you just take the new position, work there as long as it is fulfilling and you are growing. If you keep being fulfilled and growing, great! If not, there's a good chance the company that thought you were doing a good job will want you back. Keep it professional. Give them notice, politiely decline if they offer to give you the position you wanted after all. Tell them you don't want to reneg on the commitment you made to the other company when you signed the offer, it's nothing against your current company. You don't need to (nor should you) say it. They know they didn't live up to their promise that you could move after two years.

Your current manager probably likes you and was going to lose you anyway. The other manager wanted you and didn't get you because of upper management. That's two good contacts at this company should you be looking to go there in the future. You also have a very credible thing to say about why you left that position (for future interviews, I mean). "They said that I could change positions after two years, but they did not follow through on their commitment."

I think this is all win for you. You expand your network, and you are leaving in a professional manner with the current company "wanting more". I think this is better from a long term perspective than the idea of getting the signed offer and using it to force upper management's hand. Unless that's a way you like doing business (and some do--it's considered by many to be a completely valid negotiating tactic and might even be respected by other people that have the same opinion about how those kind of decisions should be made), get out before it becomes the standard for how to advance at your current company.

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6

If your direct manager was supportive I think it would be good to sit down with them and explain the situation. If they are sympathetic to your case and if your phrase your situation well they might be able to act on your behalf and help sort this out.

In this case talking to the right person and phrasing your situation properly will help your odds. Anyone with more leverage that is sympathetic to you will be helpful to convey the right message that they cannot keep you at this position but they can keep you in the organisation.

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  • 7
    Following this advice is risky given how the company has behaved, doing this could mark OP as a flight risk, lead to delay tactics and meanwhile the other job offer may evaporate. – Old Nick Aug 13 at 7:17
  • @OldNick "explain your situation" doesn't need to include that you are currently in the process of accepting another offer. Just the general want for some sort of commitment for internal transfer from the current company. If OP is going to accept the other offer anyway at the end of the deadline, provided he doesn't get an internal transfer, there is no harm in exploring the possible opportunities with the supportive manager. – Dan M. Aug 13 at 14:28
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    As well-intentioned as this advice may be, it's really not the right choice in this situation. The OP had an internal hiring manager who wants them and a direct manager who is supportive of the move. Both managers were overruled by an upper-level manager. These two managers clearly have no power in the system and no amount of convincing them is going to matter. Also, if the OP is believed to be doing good work by upper management, this shouldn't be able finding the magical phrasing... the upper managers here just don't care. – Dancrumb Aug 13 at 19:42
  • @Dancrumb of course it's not necessarily the upper manager who is blocking the move; one or the other line manager could just be using upper management as a convenient scapegoat. OP suggests they're suspicious of this possibility by saying their current manager was "originally supportive but..." -- "I fought for you but the company blocked me" is one tactic to try to preserve a working relationship while delivering bad news. It's moot, though: in either case it doesn't bode well for OP to remain – thehole Aug 13 at 22:25
  • Without being there its hard to know which way to go on about this. If the manager can be dodgy, try to go above. There is a possibility that the blocker will be out of ranger after the move. If staying is truly worth it, its good to gamble. Otherwise jumping ship should be default. – Al rl Aug 13 at 22:34
5

You are threatening the company and this is okay.

You don't know why Upper Management is blocking your move, but there is a global pandemic on that is likely to have messed up almost every company in the world's plans so jumping to hasty conclusions about them is unfounded. Right now they believe that you will stay at your current position and want you to carry on doing the good work because they believe that is the best thing for the company. If they know you will leave the company instead of doing that is entirely reasonable for them to change that view and decide it is better to give you the position you want. It's possible that the company is run by utter morons who will hold that against you in future but not altogether likely and if they do - eh, you can go elsewhere.

Tell them you have a job offer elsewhere and give them a few days to offer you the new position within the company, in writing, or take the new job offer. Explain you prefer to remain and move within the company but that it is more important to you to move into a data scientist role. They can then decide what to do.

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Do what makes you happy

You already have a good idea about what it will be like if you stay at your current company. You want to leave the plant and don't like working there, especially since they blocked your transfer. About the notice, don't worry too much. The best way is to explain to your manager that you have decided to quit in person, but you can also write a letter. Good luck on your future endeavors!

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1

It depends on how you get on with the two managers, and whether you want to leave a good impression there.

Upper management doesn't know you nor really care, but you can build a rapport with the two managers by quietly telling them, confidentially, about the offer.

Your current manager would have lost you as a worker had the internal promotion gone through; and the hiring manager is in the same general data science field as you've going to. This is good networking.

I've found that it is never a good idea to burn bridges, and you likely have decades in the workforce ahead of you. There's a small, but non-zero chance that you'll run into one of them in the future, in some capacity.

Separately, by sharing this with someone at work, it adds some weight and commitment to your plan to move jobs. That can help you get momentum on your plans in what can be a scary change, and more so in this current climate.

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1

Assuming your preference is to stay your current company

Reconfirm with the hiring manager in your current company that the data science job is still open. Follow up with that other company and let them know you are still considering their offer and will let them know in a day or two.

Then approach your manager and say this (calmly):

I thought about this a long time, but I am going to be making a job change in the next couple of weeks. I have several opportunities, but I'd like your help and support to enable me stay at this company. Can you unblock my transfer to the data science team so I don't have to leave the company? I would need to know by tomorrow.

Yes, you're putting your manager on the spot. But your words were carefully chosen so that it frames his decision between being "helpful and supportive" or let it be his fault for the company losing a good employee.

If he asks about the other job offer, dodge that question and just keep repeating you want to stay at the current company and getting the transfer unblocked.

I see the following as possible outcomes:

  • He relents and possibly negotiates on extending the internal transfer date so that you can transfer your knowledge to the others on your team before changing teams.

  • He wants to help, but fidgets about it being out of his hands and it's an upper management decision. Again, just repeat that you need your internal transfer request needs to be confirmed by tomorrow. But don't threaten to quit. Just say you are going to be making a decision within a few days.

  • He refuses to budge, just tell him you'll let him know at the end of the week what your final decision will be. Then go confirm and accept that other offer.

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0

A word of warning

The sequence of events is very important. Think carefully before doing anything. I know a little about contract law and so should you.

True story

Many years ago, an uncle of mine got a fantastic job offer from a company. Thrilled, he gave notice at his existing job. Everything got into motion.

Two weeks later he got a letter from the new company saying that the offer to him had been withdrawn - they had found a better candidate. Immediately he went back to his old employers and asked for his job back. They refused saying they had formally accepted his resignation. He was left with no job and a family to support.

Moral of the story

Make sure you get a job offer in writing in contractual terms before giving your notice. Also formally accept the contractual offer in writing and make sure they have acknowledged your acceptance of the offer before handing in your notice at the old job.


Having given that warning, it is common for employees to use a job offer as a negotiating tool.

Suggested course of action (but I am not a lawyer so consult one before following my ideas)

  1. Get a formal, written job offer from the new people.

  2. Do not accept it yet.

  3. Show the formal job offer to your current employers.

  4. Ask them to provide a better offer (promotion) in writing, saying exactly what your new position/salary will be.

  5. You now have two offers in writing. Each forms the basis of a possible contract. Decide which you want and formally accept that one. You must then receive formal written confirmation from the company you choose that they have received your acceptance.

  6. Finally, formally decline the offer from the non-chosen job and, if it is the current one, give them your notice.


Summary

Everything should be in writing at every stage and the sequence of events is critical. To use contract law, get the following things in formal written/printed and signed documents.

  1. Job offer in writing
  2. Promotion offer in writing
  3. Accept 1 or 2 in writing.
  4. Get formal written acknowledgement of your acceptance.

NOW YOU HAVE A CONTRACT.

  1. Decline offer of party you don't want to be with. (Give notice if necessary)

DISCLAIMER

I am not a lawyer nor an employment specialist. I am merely giving lay advice based on experience of a family member and a limited knowledge of contract law. You must use your own judgement, and obtain legal advice if necessary.

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0

Should I just break the news to my employer that I got an offer but I wish to stay within the company and ask them to expedite my transfer request?

It sounds like you're asking "Should I use the offer from the other company as an incentive for my current company to give me what I want?"

No. It rarely works, if ever.

Consider from your current employer's point of view. You come in and say "Give me my transfer that I want or I'm going to quit". Why would they give something to an employee who already went out and got another job?

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-3

Yes, you should give them notice that you are leaving the company. Otherwise, if you are not giving notice and staying neither the company, there is nothing to notify them about.

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    I think you have misunderstood the Question. It´s not if OP should give notice, but if he should try and leverage the the outside offer to negotiate a change in position. – Daniel Aug 13 at 11:27
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    @Daniel I think you have misunderstood this answer. This answer is saying OP's only course of action worth even considering is to take the outside offer. – Tiercelet Aug 13 at 13:10
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    @Tiercelet: Then I think this answer needs to be improved. currently it´s hard to understand and there is no reasoning or reference given: workplace.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer – Daniel Aug 13 at 13:31

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