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My company just went through a reorganization, with team members reassigned to different projects. I appear to be the only developer being reassigned a different role, along the lines of "helping the testing team learn some scripting". Is this a demotion, or just a sideways move?

My previous boss would probably describe me as a bit too head-in-the-clouds, not as practical as I should be. My worry is that he felt my performance as a professional developer wasn't sufficient. But on the other hand, he did stick up for me to his superiors to try to open source an internal project I was working on, before the reorganization shook everything up.

Are there some practical steps that I can take to succeed in my new role although I'm not overly enthusiastic about it?

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    Hey mcandre, and welcome to The Workplace! I am a bit unclear on what you're asking here. Without knowing your organization or your company culture, how can we know what the change in position means? Why do you think this is a demotion rather than just restructuring? Did you ask your previous boss or whoever informed you of the reassignment? As-is, your question is only going to get opinions rather than practical solutions to your problem. If you want to ask how to bring up not changing roles with your boss, we can do that. Otherwise this may be closed. Consider an edit perhaps? Thanks! – jmac Feb 3 '14 at 6:24
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    @Ann, to address that I created this last week. – jmac Feb 3 '14 at 7:59
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    @Ann, you can feel free to comment on the linked meta question. You can even edit it more appropriately if you want. Regardless, this isn't the place to discuss other issues -- meta is -- so if you have something to add, please do it there. Thanks! – jmac Feb 3 '14 at 8:21
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    Even if this was not opinion based it is basically an offshoot of asking what job to take which is off topic. I think if this question were "I feel like this move is a demotion what can I do to overcome this speedbump to my career?" would be much more answerable and likely to end up addressing the concerns the op had. If this modification is ok with the OP I would make the edit. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 3 '14 at 15:20
  • ****comments removed****: Please avoid using comments for extended discussion. Instead, please use The Workplace Chat. On Workplace SE, comments are intended to help improve a post. Please see What "comments" are not... for more details. – jmort253 Feb 4 '14 at 8:55
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Is this a demotion, or just a sideways move?

It's hard to tell. If you see it as a demotion, then it is a demotion.

However, I disagree. Testing is critical. No matter how fancy the code is, the whole system is useless if there are serious bugs in it.

describe me as a bit too head-in-the-clouds,

I am not sure what you mean. If it means what RobM explains in the comment below, who might be smart and have lots of ideas, but who doesn't translate them into useful actions for the business., I don't think the reassignment is necessarily a demotion. The management wants you to understand how the real stuff works and how it may not work. They transfer you there to further train you so that you can see the whole picture of the business. This may be your opportunity to be promoted in the future. If they really dislike you, why not just let you go right now? Please be positive about this action, work hard on testing and learn. Everything starts from the ground (testing is an integral part of the business). Good Luck!

  • To the downvoter and flagger, the OP is asking is it a demotion? My answer is "not necessary". If you don't consider it an answer, please leave a comment to explain. Thanks. – scaaahu Feb 3 '14 at 8:57
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    "head-in-the-clouds", here in the UK at least, is a turn of phrase that would describe someone who might be smart and have lots of ideas, but who doesn't translate them into useful actions for the business. I've got no idea if the OP's boss is making a valid criticism or not but it might be consistent with transferring them to testing, where you need be a be a bit more grounded to deal with what's in front of you. – Rob Moir Feb 3 '14 at 9:03
  • @RobM Thanks for the explanation. I edited my answer. – scaaahu Feb 3 '14 at 9:30
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There's a saying: good testers are worth their weight in gold.

So don't ever think that a tester has less value than a developer. In most situations, it could be the other way around because it's generally easier to find good developers than to find good testers (PS: I have no formal proof of this last statement, but from the talks I have/had with people in this industry, it appears to be true).

There's no way to provide a definitive answer to your question (we don't know anything about your company culture, your former position, responsibilities, company business etc.), but I will go so far as to say: I doubt this is a demotion. If you believe the saying above, then it might just be a promotion and an opportunity to become very valueable for your company :) .

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In my experience, people with development experience often make really good software testers. They know what frequent programming mistakes are and how to look out for them, they know how to reproduce and isolate bugs in a useful way and they are able to describe bugs in a way other developers understand them.

But whether getting moved from development to testing should be seen as a promotion, demotion or sidestep depends on the company. We can't tell you how your company values testers relative to developers. But a good hint is usually how well they pay people who have these positions.

We also don't know how you personally value the new situation. When you find that the new work is less enjoyable than the work you had before, it might feel like a demotion to you, even when it isn't meant as such. When you feel that your career is forced into a direction you don't want it to take, you should act and try to get a position which is more in your personal career interest. But that's your personal assessment of your situation.

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You got moved to this job because somebody needs to do it and you got picked. The worst thing you can do is do it badly or go into it with a poor attitude. In fact, you may find you enjoy it when you get into the work. Many a person has been moved in a reorg to something they never thought to do and it turned out to be something they really liked. So don't go in thinking this will be horrible.

I personally woud sit down with my new boss and tell him your concerns about this being a career limiting move for you (or at least not something you are terribly interested in) and ask him if you can create what is needed, create a system to train a successosr in the position if it is still needed and move back to a development team in six months. Show him you intend to do a good job though and will work hard for him so he will give you what you need in about six months. Talk to him about how you can get the experience you need to move to where you want to be in five years.

Then dig in and do a good enough (but not brilliant, too great a job and you may never get out of there) job so that they want to make you happy by moving you when you ask again in six months. Take it as an opportunity to shine somewhat and to learn much more about testing which I assure you will be handy in the years ahead.

The other thing you need to do is start to make connections with the managers of the projects you might want to go to in six months. If you can show them that you would be a person they would like to have, then you can get them to ask for you specifically. It is always easier to move around when the new manager is asking for you.

Also start making connections in the local developer community though volunteering with users groups and the like. That way if it turns out you can't escape this job you don;t want in any reasonable time frame or you just utterly hate it, you will have the connections to get a better job.

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I've encountered this as well in the past. I was the only RnD in my company where i would develop new products which enhances the current products. On the side i would also do what the rest of the engineer do, which were on site installation and support.

My solutions, which consist of new tech (cloud, android, etc) was considered an innovation, and brought in many new customers and also manage to win over customers who were using our competitor's product.

I was excited and contented with it, till the raise came. I found out that i did not get the raise i wanted, and on the other hand my other colleague did. I sat with my manager and discussed about it and his reply was that i was handling new product, while my colleague was handling our main product, which was the bread and butter. I explained that between the RnD, i also do what my colleague did, but he didnt wanna listen. I even created a spreadsheet on all my projects vs my colleague's projects, unpaid overtime amount and etc, which was requested by him.

So as simple as that, i told him i would give him a week to reconsider and sure enough he did not change his mind. The following Monday i tendered my resignation and found a better job elsewhere. thought pay raise wasnt the only reason why i left.

Thought i am proud to say that he begged me to reconsider after getting screwed by the owner, but it was too late as ive already gotten a better offer elsewhere.

In summary, if you have doubts or dissatisfaction with your job or roles, you must voice it out. However you must be reasonable about it too. I believe that at work you must committed 100% to your role. Thinking about what ifs, or why this and that would only serve as a distraction and messes with your performance.

My dad used to say, always have 3 letters ready in your drawer, your Resignation letter, your CV, and your job offer letter.

  • That's just bad business. Bread and butter becomes a ball and chain soon enough, especially in the tech industry. – mcandre Feb 5 '14 at 21:08

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