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I work on my current position for about 4 years, I need a change since I no longer learn anything new here. While looking for a job outside the company is definitely an option, I also want to see if I can improve my position within the company. Should I approach my boss like this:

Hey boss, while working in your team is great I no longer learn many new skills. I'm looking to improve myself further. Right now I don't see an opening elsewhere in the company that I'd like to fill (I have talked to X already), but maybe something comes up. I would appreciate if you could support me here by giving me notice.
I know that his is a difficult situation, as I'm right now your right hand. I want to help to find a solution were I further train one of the others so that I don't leave to large a gap in your team.
I know I'm asking much. I would greatly prefer to improve myself without changing the company and I hope that we find a way.

Would it be a good idea to approach my boss like this, what should I add or leave out?

I'm an engineer, after my boss I'm the longest serving person in our small department by far and I'm his replacement for some (non-managerial) duties. I'm not looking for a management position/promotion, but for a horizontal change.

  • I'm not asking IF I should talk to my boss, and the situation is vastly different. – mart Feb 22 '14 at 20:27
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    duplicate question is also not asking IF one should talk: asker there is also looking for efficient way to communicate about their dissatisfaction (did you read beyond question title?), and the answers there provide guidance on how to do that – gnat Feb 22 '14 at 20:31
  • 'Duplicate' question is not about changing the team/department (away from ones boss). – mart Feb 22 '14 at 20:38
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Hey boss, while working in your team is great I no longer learn many new skills. I'm looking to improve myself further. Right now I don't see an opening elsewhere in the company that I'd like to fill (I have talked to X already), but maybe something comes up. I would appreciate if you could support me here by giving me notice. I know that his is a difficult situation, as I'm right now your right hand. I want to help to find a solution were I further train one of the others so that I don't leave to large a gap in your team. I know I'm asking much. I would greatly prefer to improve myself without changing the company and I hope that we find a way.

If you have a really great personal rapport with your boss, one that permits casual and very honest communication, this could be okay.

If not, your boss may hear the following:

I don't think you are doing a very good job with your team professionally. I'm going to leave as soon as I have an opening, but I'll probably hang around for a while until I find something better. Here's your warning. Let me know if something that might interest me shows up somewhere else in the company.

Do you have regular one-on-one meetings with your boss where you discuss how things are going? If so, have you ever approached the subject of working in a different department, without threatening or declaring your desire to leave the company?

If you haven't you might take an approach like this:

Hey, boss. Can we talk about the company policy regarding changing departments? While I really like working with you, I feel like I might be better served professionally by changing to a different team.

That might open up discussions about why you feel this way, and what can be done to help you grow.

This assumes that you really would be interested in staying. If instead you have already decided to leave, then don't start such a conversation.

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Have you actually talked to other people within the company about a different position? If so, then you may have already opened a can of worms. People talk.

If there is nothing currently within your company and you are dissatisfied then it's time to find something outside. Tell your boss about it when you are quitting, not before.

If there is something within your company, go talk to the new manager first to see if they would be okay with the shift. If that's good, then go talk to your boss about wanting to move over. Bear in mind that even speaking with the new manager is likely to cause them to speak to your boss when they see them in the hall. So be delicate, meaning don't leave the impression that you aren't currently happy. Instead pitch it as you'd like to get involved because "X" is interesting to you.

Another potential option is to go to your boss first. Start off with something innocuous like "Hey, I heard the guys in dept X are starting to work on <whatever>. That sounds like fun." and see where the conversation goes. You should be able to gauge if it's appropriate to go further with "I think that I'd like to work with them on it. Do you think that's possible?" At this point the boss will either say something along the lines of "I need you too much" or "I'm not sure, you should talk to the other manager." The first response means trouble; the second is a green light.

Various managers take hearing that an employee, even a long term one, is unhappy in very different ways. Some might term you on the spot. Some might try to help. Some may try to offer you something so that you stay. Most will likely go into a "crisis" mode to figure out what to do when you are gone. You need to mitigate the impact as much as possible. The best way to do that is to NOT give them an indication that you are unhappy at all.

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