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I work for a company in north Africa that is owned by a bigger company in UK.
Reporting hierarchy: Me-->my local manager-->development manager in UK-->IT manager in UK.

I'm preparing to request to be moved to another local team under another local manager.

My current manager was hired 6 months ago and I was one of his interviewers. I objected to the hiring decision then, but he was able to impress both foreign managers by his confidence and strong personality.

why I am leaving:

  1. The team became a one man show.
  2. He must prove you wrong when you do anything.
  3. Even other teams are complaining about his attitude.
  4. He is constantly pressuring me by undermining the complexity of the tasks I work on (I'm working on a legacy application with no documentation so normal tasks take longer times than usual).
  5. He never says no to the foreign managers whatever their requests are even if that breaks what we agreed on earlier.

I can go on and on, but to prevent myself from ranting I want to emphasize one thing. Several other employees are going to complain about my manager to the general manager when he visits next week.

Since the probability of him being fired in almost 0% I am requesting to be transferred; however, I'm not sure how to communicate this request with a manager from a different culture(English & American) as in my country such a request will make me really look bad.

But maybe it is acceptable or normal for Western cultures to make such requests? Am I approaching this the wrong way?

  • @JonStory thanks for the edit. I was having difficulty phrasing the question. – Long Feb 20 '15 at 14:26
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If you push for a move because you can't get along with him you'll be refused and marked as a troublemaker.

As a professional you should be looking to see if you can work around differences, or resolve them. This is your best strategy. As Abraham Lincoln said:

I don't like that man, I must get to know him better.

Having said that, if you can't get past it, pushing for a move due to differences is not a good option, you need to make this a positive thing.

Look at the other team(s), look for things where you can benefit, or ideally where you can add value to them or make things better for them. And make sure you are not requesting just a move, but a move specifically onto the selected team.

This is your key, you pitch the move in terms of how well the company will benefit by doing this, this will get them behind you, and not burn your bridges making the move (you never know if it will be better, the other man's grass is always greener etc).

Maybe after some time away your relationship will improve with the current manager, especially if you don't bring him down as part of your move.

  • I really like the idea of requesting the transfer to move toward something good for both yourself and the company instead of to run away from a bad situation. – ColleenV Feb 20 '15 at 20:06
  • I think your point about phrasing my transfer request in a positive way is currently my best option. However, it seems I have very small chance of getting out of it unscathed. – Long Feb 20 '15 at 20:28
  • you should never say you want a transfer because you don't get on with X - phrase it as you want to move for career development reasons – Pepone Feb 21 '15 at 12:51
  • @Songo - it doesn't have to be, just pitch it so everyone wins by doing it. – The Wandering Dev Manager Feb 21 '15 at 13:38
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Several other employees are going to complain about my manager to the general manager when he visits next week.

Because you are not the only team member who is known to be frustrated, y'all should coordinate your efforts.

You don't list the general manager in the management chain, but he is apparently somebody your fellow employees feel can address the problem. Given that he'll be visiting you soon, I suggest you hold off on your request for now and join your fellow employees in making this manager aware of the problem. Ask the others who you know to be unhappy (before his visit) if they're also unhappy enough to leave or request a transfer; "half the team wants to quit" sends a different message than "Songo is unhappy". Use that.

A few years ago I had to request a change in management because of what I considered to be problems with my then-current manager. The next person up the chain was local to me, so in that sense I didn't share your problem, but this person was a recent transfer into the position and didn't really know the team very well, so my experience might help. In my first meeting with that manager I asked for advice -- I'm having these specific problems, I've tried these specific things to fix them, I really want us to work together as a team, what do you advise I do? Even if you already know you're going to ask for a transfer, try this first -- it's important to show the higher-level manager that you're making an effort and aren't just bailing at the first disagreement. In my case I listened to what she had to say, tried to apply it, gave her informal (drop-in) updates every couple weeks, and then a few months after that I made my request. By then two things had happened: (a) she had gotten to know me better, and (b) I'd shown a track record of trying to solve the problems at a lower level. It took another six months or so after that (the cogs of bureaucracy move slowly, when they move), but I got my change of manager.

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Your request may or may not be honored.

Honored or not it will not reflect positively on you.

Some times the best thing is go gut it out. Hopefully the organization will recognize the problem and correct it.

Often the best way to get out of a bad situation is to perform in that situation. Apply outright for another position when one becomes available. You need a good rating in your current position to be attractive to other positions. But you don't want to be such a suck up that you become his right hand man that he does not want to part with.

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My assumption in this posting will be that the issue cannot be worked out with the manager in question.

Sometimes individuals with a "strong personality" such as this are brought on with the specific purpose to be a 'hit man' who can clean house.

With a manager such as this it becomes simply a matter of time and often happens through natural attrition, such as when the manager starts giving lower evaluations and treating people like you describe, so those who cannot handle it leave.

So this may be a strategic move from above.

In this case openly appealing to the higher-ups for transfer may backfire since you are offloading decision-making onto them, whereas the whole point was for them to clean house without getting directly involved.

With this in mind I would second @Blam's suggestion to "Apply outright for another position when one becomes available." You may want to keep this as quiet as possible and apply to another organization with the company with little or no overlap of work with your current team. (This may or may not be feasible in your case, but would be the best option as it would reduce the chances of interfacing with this manager in the future.)

Find a mentor within your organization (again, preferably in another department/building). If you are in a union, you would benefit from finding an ally who is a Union Representative with long tenure in the company, who knows the ins and outs of the union contract.

Have a conversation with that person without naming names, talking from principles and objective facts rather than feelings. See what they have to say about how to navigate the internal job market to secure a position with a different unit/team. (Again, this person does not need to be in that organization where you want to move; they can be in a completely unrelated role, as long as they have experience in the organization and can relate to your predicament).

Do your homework. Research internal postings, job responsibilities, qualifications, and figure out where you might fit in outside of your immediate department. Think about the skills or education that you have but are not currently using, and see if you can 'dust off' these parts of your resume (which may require substantial revision when applying for different kinds of positions). If you are geographically mobile, consider expanding your search to your company's offices in other cities (have a 2nd and 3rd best position options).

Chances are if you go through an interview process for another position, your manager might find out about this just as the hiring manager on the other team is getting ready to make you an offer (it may be company policy to consult with current manager).

Be ready for this and make sure to approach this issue in calm, matter-of-fact and relaxed way if your manager decides to confront you about this. Do not make this personal about you and him. Rather, cite your own professional development goals and reasons such as interest in gaining experience in other facets of the company's work to round out your skill set.

Be composed, strategic, focused and proactive. Do not make hasty moves, but methodically do your research/gather information about alternative opportunities and ways to navigate this issue (as you are already doing by posting a question on this forum). Keep calm and carry on ;) Good luck!

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