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there's one position between my level and top-level management. The position was open for a while, resulting in a mess, then we found somebody for it. Now I stumbled over a job advertisement by my company for that exact position.

Should I tell my (relatively new, but not that new) boss that the company is looking for his replacement?

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    I'd say its more likely someone screwed up and either didn't remove the job ad or posted one accidentally. Mar 15, 2022 at 22:37
  • I would like to think so, but I actually stumbled over that job ad multiple weeks ago and it got updated multiple times. (Taken down and up again so it shows up as newer when you're sorting.) Mar 15, 2022 at 22:44
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    Why would you want to get involved in this? It isn't any of your concern.
    – joeqwerty
    Mar 15, 2022 at 23:14
  • I still wouldn't rule out "not taken down". My own company7's job postings rarely bear any resemblance to who we are actually looking for. Or maybe they are looking for a second manager. Mar 16, 2022 at 0:02
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    All the "NO" comments are 100% correct. If you tell your boss that you think he would be fired, and if it turns out that the ads are not about removing him, then what will he think about your motive ? Even if the ads were about removing him, what would you or he gain by your informing him of the ads ? Mar 16, 2022 at 0:45

3 Answers 3

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Should I tell my (relatively new, but not that new) boss that the company is looking for his replacement?

NO.

If that's what's actually happening, it's none of your business. If you misinterpret the situation (which is entirely possible), you just look like an idiot.

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There are too many reason why you don't tell then:

  • They are expanding, and they need somebody in a similar position. The larger the company the more likely you don't have a full view of all parts of the company.
  • Somebody else at that level of position is quitting, being fired, or retiring. There isn't an opening today, but there will be in a month or two.
  • H/R made a mistake. They pushed out the wrong advertisement.
  • You have misunderstood the job posting.

Even if you are right, it isn't your job to alert your boss. For all you know they already know they are done, and the company is keeping it quiet to not have a hole in the org chart again.

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Telling your boss would do two things. First, it would say that you think your boss is not able to discover or notice things that you have -- many people would be offended at being patronized with this. Second, it sets up a "hey, let's talk about how maybe this company is going to fire you" career conversation with your boss that inverts the usual relationship and could be profoundly embarrassing even if your assumption (they want to replace your boss) is true, and worse than that if it isn't.

If they do intend to replace your boss, knowing will not enable some dramatic action that somehow prevents it. It would enable a job search, but that search could very well be underway without your knowing about it, and compensation packages when bosses are let go are sized to cover living expenses during a job search.

The upside to telling this person is that you may be seen as caring and supportive, and your boss may remember you fondly when they get a new job somewhere else. The downsides are that you may in fact upset and embarrass them, and they might not be leaving the company. The ad could be a mistake, it could be for a new person to join the team at that level, it could be to replace a different boss you don't know, or many other things. You've jumped to a conclusion. Watch and learn if you were right. That will help you if you find yourself in this situation again.

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  • "many people would be offended at being patronized" - Speaking as a boss, if one of my reports knows something important that I don't, I definitely WANT them to tell me! In fact, I'm going to be FURIOUS if I later get blindsided by something that nobody in my team told me about because they thought I'd be offended that they didn't think I was magically omniscient(!?!?). Worst case outcome of telling me: I simply say "thanks, but I already knew that". Now, OK... this specific piece of knowledge (which is actually a guess) is a bit outside the scope of this general rule, but normally... tell me! Mar 18, 2022 at 11:35
  • No argument when what my report knows is "our client is angry nobody returned their calls" or "my buddy in head office warned me there might be layoffs" or "Steve has been coming in an hour late and leaving mid afternoon for a week or more now." But for "I saw a job ad and I think you're on the chopping block" ?? This isn't about being magically omniscient, it's a report who is sure they know not just more facts, but more about the way the company works, than their own manager. Mar 18, 2022 at 12:29

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