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So. I've been working for this company for almost a decade. During these years I've been doing all sorts of tasks, basically helping where help was needed. As a result, I now have skills in various areas.

My main task for the last 4 years was software development, but now due to various people quitting (reasons below) we have open positions in tech support. My company has recruited a new hire but here's the thing: they're not available to work in tech support, so the solution is to make me train them so I can replace the colleagues that worked in tech support. Management thinks this is a great idea since I have the skills needed for customer care, and I've been informed of this last week.

Since this has nothing to do with my performance and skills, I don't think I should accept what is nothing short of a demotion. I expressed my concerns to my manager but it looks like upper management wants to proceed with this plan anyway. Other than looking for a better job, is there anything I could do to salvage this situation? How would you approach this with upper management?

I also want to add:

  • a lot of people are quitting because of the general state of chaos the company is in, I thought my seniority and competence would be recognized but I was apparently wrong
  • I'm not sure what ties management has with the new hires
  • I have no room for legal maneuvers
  • I was probably chosen for this since I'm the youngest in my team, and I've been a team player, and therefore they thought they could get away with it
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    Is this an actual demotion, with less pay and a 'lesser' job title? Or is it that you don't like the new job? And when you've trained the new hires what will you be doing then? Jul 21 at 19:56
  • Why do you think it's a demotion? Is it a cultural perception relative to support in your company? Jul 21 at 20:17
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    Please add a location. In countries with labor laws you have a written contract that cannot be changed without your consent and you cannot be fired for not agreeing to a change. However, if you work in the US for example, you may not have a written contract because what good would it do you if your employer can fire you for any or no reason anyway. So our answer may vary depending on your location.
    – nvoigt
    Jul 22 at 5:11
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    It's a demotion because it looks bad on a resume, as a commenter said. My pay would remain the same. Thank everyone for your input. Jul 22 at 7:23
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    It sounds like all those people are quitting for a good reason. I still can't wrap my head around the thinking... the new hire doesn't want to do this job so we'll force one of our few remaining employees to do it? Did it not occur to them that during a mass escape it would just provoke yet more people to quit if they see loyalty is not rewarded? Of course you could always ask for a job title increase and pay bump to take this obviously worse job until they find someone, as you now have a lot of leverage.
    – Rastilin
    Jul 22 at 9:36
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If you want to continue working in software development, and this role does not offer much in the way of software development, do not accept the change in your role. Future recruiters will look at this and many will think "they couldn't handle software dev and got shunted into tech support".

If upper management intend to follow a course of action which goes against your personal interests, it may be a good idea to polish your CV and start jobhunting.

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As an employee it's entirely reasonable for you to be concerned about both your career progression and your remuneration. It sounds like you're valuable to the company, partly due to flexibility but also because you get things done.

If you think this will affect your chances of progressing up the company, mention this. Ask what the opportunities would be to progress if you did this - you might be able to move into a team leader/management type role in tech support. Or they might say it's only temporary. This may not pan out, but it's worth knowing what they think is going to happen.

Likewise, if you're worried about salary, bonuses, future salary progression, benefits and other things in this area, it's entirely reasonable and common to ask about this before accepting a new role.

If you're looking to turn down a role, it's much better if you can say, "I've done the research and I'm not doing this for these reasons," rather than just "I don't want to." Some people think finding out about something before turning it down is wasting everybody's time, but it shows you're serious and willing to be flexible if it's of mutual benefit.

And finally, if they're asking you rather than immediately transferring you, it means you have the choice. As you say possibly others have said no, so why not say no yourself?

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I have seen this happening in teams and companies where I worked. It can also happen when you are assigned to certain dead projects or technologies. If the new role does not meet with your professional and career goals, the only action that you can take is leaving the company, or giving an ultimatum that you will leave and hoping they go back on their plans. Be careful of sweet-talking, you could be lied to with things like "just for a few months, until X" or stuff like that.

Now, it would also the time to do some instrospection, as in my experience, the person assigned to these duties that nobody want is either the least useful developer, or the one easier to push over.

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    I disagree with your last statement, OP could be the best developer on the team but simply that he is the only person with good customer relation skills and is therefore the only viable person to do it.
    – musefan
    Jul 22 at 11:12

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