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I was proposed to be promoted under the condition that I promise to not leave my current company within a year. There is no contract, just an informal agreement. My question is whether it is reasonable to request such a promise and how should this informal contract be approached if I receive a competitive offer within this year.

  • What is the "agreement" exactly mean? Does it mean if you get promoted, then starting from that date you have to stay for at least one year? – Brandin Jul 31 '14 at 6:00
  • Is this verbal contract enforceable :-) – Pepone Jul 31 '14 at 14:26
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My question is whether it is reasonable to request such a promise and how should this informal contract be approached if I receive a competitive offer within this year.

Yes, it's reasonable to request such an informal promise. Your boss is basically saying "I'd like to promote you, but for it to be worthwhile to the company, I'd like you to promise me that you'll stick around for at least a year."

If you plan to stick around for at least a year, then it's reasonable for you to make such a promise.

Since this is an informal promise, and not contractual, you get to decide how much your word/promise is actually worth.

If you don't care about standing by your commitments, then just accept the promotion, and if something comes up just say "I changed my mind."

If you do care, then don't make a promise you won't keep. If you need to keep open the possibility of leaving within the year, just say "I can't make that promise."

As @HLGEM rightly points out - it never hurts to be known as someone who will keep a promise even when it is difficult!

  • If I have given a commitment whether it is writing or not I will try to honor that. Yes sometimes life interrupts and you can't such as when you have to move to another state to care for your sick mother, but short of something like that, I would not look at other jobs if I agreed to stay for a year and I would turn down any interviews telling them I was committed until such and such date. It is a small world and it never hurts to be known as someone who will keep a promise even when it is difficult. – HLGEM Jul 31 '14 at 14:12
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It's entirely reasonable for a manager to want to invest in someone who's going to be around long enough for that investment to pay itself back.

There's nothing wrong about asking you what your plans are. If you don't know, you can ask for a bit more time to think about it, or you can say you don't know (in which case someone else will probably be given that position) or you can lie about it (which I would consider a bit too selfish, personally).

As you said, all you're being asked for is your plans and expectations, not a signed commitment. If you can honestly say "yes, I plan to stay for at least a year", and then six months from now something major causes you to change your plans... well, life happens.

  • is it reasonable? at the moment its only your opinion in many parts of the world your view would be regarded with suspicion at the very least – Pepone Jul 31 '14 at 14:33
  • I'm not sure I understand your objection, @Pepone. It's an informal question. You're entitled to decline to answer it, but by doing so you will also decline the opportunity offered. The alternative is not to be offered the opportunity at all and for management to promote someone they don't feel they have to ask; I fail to see how that would be better. – keshlam Jul 31 '14 at 15:07

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