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I recently accepted a new job offer with another department within the same organisation. I told my manager who was supportive and we kicked off the transfer process.

A senior manager several levels up my management chain called me and basically threatened to hurt my career if I continued with the transfer. She said my reasons for moving weren't good enough and she is friends with other senior managers in the new department.

I'm not overly important to my current team, but this senior manager is haemorrhaging people from her department and struggling to hire so it's starting to raise questions about the morale of this team.

I'm now in a very awkward situation and don't know what to do. She said this over the phone so I don't have any evidence she threatened me.

I am moving forward with the transfer but how should I protect myself or prepare for this person to do some damage?

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    This sounds like an organization that would be required to have a whistle-blower hotline. I recommend using it. Other options would be your manager and this person's manager. Jun 13 '21 at 3:44
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    @Job_September_2020 "she is friends with other senior managers in the new department." In other words, she's not a senior manager in the new department. The op is "not overly important to [her] team, but this senior manager is haemorrhaging people from her department" - aka, the senior manager is her current senior manager, and is raising a fuss because all her indirect reports are fleeing
    – Kevin
    Jun 13 '21 at 4:12
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    I'm missing the explanation why moving would hurt your career. "reasons for moving weren't good enough" - that means what? "she is friends with..." - what has this to do with you moving? Did the new department already accept you? To make it short: You should find out who doesn't want you in the new department and why.
    – puck
    Jun 13 '21 at 8:03
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    Never give in to immoral threats and ultimatums. But do get her to repeat her threat on a recorded call and keep it for a rainy day.
    – obe
    Jun 13 '21 at 10:28
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    @Michelle Did she make friendly offers before resorting to threats? If her behaviour became nasty very quickly either she is the kind of manager you don't want to work for or she is on the edge because she is going to lose her position, in the second case her threats would be short lived.
    – FluidCode
    Jun 13 '21 at 11:50
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Good on you for already making the decision to move.

The main thing to decide is which of the following options to go with:

  • Telling HR. Yeah, HR isn't your friend. But... they might be an ally. They don't want some manager killing morale and torpedo'ing intracompany transfers. I mean, companies would much rather employees transfer internally than go and work for somewhere else.

  • Telling your new manager. Who is possibly an ally. After all, they want you to transfer - some high-up threatening you in order to get you to stop the transfer goes against your new manager's best interests. If you do this, also consider asking, "Is this something I should be talking with XXX about?" (where XXX is the person above the new position at the same hierarchical level as your threatener.)

  • Document it as detailed as possible, and ignore her. You definitely want to document it, because if she ends up doing some more shady stuff, you want to be able to produce a record of this first incident.

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    HR isn't your friend, but HR is there to protect the company exactly like you said. An internal move costs a LOT less than a new hire. A lot. A standard company with easily replaceable non-trivially outsourced staff is about couple month's worth of salary, mainly for the ramp-up and learning how the company works. Any sort of specialized department the cost goes up and up.
    – Nelson
    Jun 16 '21 at 7:57
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The best response to impotent threats like this is just ignore them and retain the character insight for potential future usefulness. If she could do anything she would.

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    +1. If she actually had pull with your new org, she would have stopped the transfer, not just complained to you. Jun 14 '21 at 5:01
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Tell your new senior managers this and ask them for advice. Odds are that your old senior manager has done this before, so your new team is not likely to take anything they say that seriously even if they are "friends". Which they probably aren't. "Work Friends" at best if anything.

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