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A few introductory concepts about the organization I work for: First, it is a huge, old, very rigid and quite hierarchical organization, so, any expectation of me effecting any change in it is totally out of the question. Second, despite any shortcomings of this organization, to work for it, once the (extremely) difficult admittance process is over, is 100% worthwhile. This is so due to external and internal circumstances, except for the most marginal of cases. This is to say that to look for another job is, again, out of the question.

That said, the organization has an internal and informal labour market in which poaching employees from other areas is quite common. Department bosses can stop people from changing positions, but they rarely do so as it is perceived that if the employee and the new boss want the change, it is because it will be a better fit (and, in the end, we all work for the same organization).

My case in particular: I received a nice offer from another department and, due to personal reasons (mainly the physical location of the new offices), I accepted it. My boss took it very badly, as I am an expert on a particular field and quite difficult to replace, but stopped short of blocking my transfer (maybe due to custom, maybe somebody higher up intervened, I don’t really know). I was very frank about the reasons, I told my boss several months in advance and went to quite some lengths to wrap up my work there before departing. I am not inexperienced, so I did the “basic” things to keep the bridges standing. Still, the bridges are burnt and we are on a non talking basis. Right now we don't work close at all, so it is not an immediate problem.

My questions: as my former boss is, and will be part of the same organization, and it is very conceivable that we cross paths again, could I have done anything different to keep the (working/colleagues) relationship better? What could I do now to repair it? I would be more comfortable, that’s for sure.

I don’t know, maybe it is not worth it, thank you for any advice.

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    I dont think you are at fault. I think you are very very professional and kind. The problem lies with your old boss. Make sure you have good relation with new boss and tell him your problem --so that the new boss can pitch-in if there is any friction in future (because of old boss)
    – chendu
    Oct 8, 2021 at 10:48
  • How did you broach this subject with him? What did he actually say? Who did he learn from about the transfer?
    – sfxedit
    Oct 9, 2021 at 0:40

2 Answers 2

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Let the embers smolder for a while.

As far as I can tell you did everything correctly. If your old boss is mad nevertheless, your best option is probably to give them time to cool down and get over it.

As long as you are not working together on anything, there is really no urgency to this. Once things have calmed down and everything is back in steady state mode, it should be easier to approach them. You can also just wait until a natural contact/trigger point shows up in your work assignments. If that never happens, then there is also no reason to make up.

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  • Like putting cold water on an oily pan straight off the stove. Better to give it time to cool down.
    – TCooper
    Oct 8, 2021 at 21:37
  • Yes, I guess, that may be the correct approach: if I cross paths with him in the future, I do something, otherwise, I forget about it.
    – m e
    Oct 15, 2021 at 11:46
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Wait until the dust settled, your successor picked up all the tasks, and your boss might recognize how wonderful you were. After half a year or even a year, call him for a joint lunch to catch up.

That's a good opportunity to see how bad the situation really is, how far it improved, and it might help to improve the situation from then on. Not sure, whether you should talk about the leave in bad terms or just leave it.

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