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I started my job here a little less than a year ago. We're a pretty small operations team, supporting a large number of teams within our organization. More specifically, my team consists of six members and a manager; within the past 4 months, we've lost two of our most experienced members (one external, one internal).

When I accepted the position I have now, I was under the impression that I would be doing a lot more development than I am, day-to-day. Coming from a full-time position writing C++ code, it's been an unfortunate experience sometimes when I realize I'm now writing code (scripts) for maybe a week every couple months. Though the role is consider 'DevOps', it's heavily weighted on the operations side of things... probably 90%. This isn't exactly what I was looking for, unfortunately.

My team is good, just small. I'm used to (and preferred) working on a team with dozens of people.

A position within the company (and, at the same location) came up on the careers site, and it's something that I'd really love to apply for. It's more of a full-time C++ position, and is much more closely related to what I'd like to be working on.

The issue I have is, I'm not sure how to bring up the possibility of transitioning to my manager. We're short staffed as it is (partially our fault - we've had at least one open spot since December, and have only interviewed two people) and I've only been with the company for (almost) a year. I feel like I haven't really 'paid my dues' to the manager and position I was hired for.

The company is amazing. I really don't want to leave the company. I'm willing to stay at the position I'm in now for the foreseeable future if it means I can stay with this company (benefits, culture, etc. are superb). It's just that I would rather look forward to coming to work each day. I don't dread it currently, but it by no means excites me. I want a challenge.. and I'm not so sure this position is going to offer that anytime soon.

This all boils down to two questions that I'd really appreciate some guidance on:

  • How do I bring up to my manager that I want to transition to another team, after just starting about a year ago? We're short staffed as it is... should I even bring it up, or just suck it up for a while longer?
  • What if I apply and interview for the position, and don't get it? Is this likely to cause an issue in how my work or effort is perceived? I don't want to explain that I'm considering transitioning to another team, not get it, and then be seen from that day on as the guy looking for a way out. I just want something more challenging than what I'm doing now.
  • Have you spoken to your manager about your desire to do more programming work? It's going to make a big difference to how you ask, and if you've never said you weren't happy with your role then it's going to be much less well received when you (seemingly) suddenly want to do something else. – clairebones May 1 '15 at 15:57
  • Not really, simply because I know what work is available and what work just isn't part of our job. Since we're a really small team, the actual work we do and work coming down the pipe is pretty transparent to everyone on the team. – MrDuk May 1 '15 at 17:28
  • If you had to choose would, which matters more the company or the job? For my money it's the job, but do tell us please. – Nathan Cooper May 5 '15 at 6:53
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+50

Bottom line up-front: tell him about what's bothering you, not the role you want.

Manager's perspective here: Manager's are happy to solve problems that they themselves can do something about. If you go to him and say "I'm unhappy about this job, and I want this other one" there's very little he can do... other than make a mental note about potentially poor job fit. (And honestly, there's nothing in it for him.) Instead, concentrate on the particulars of why you don't like your job:

  • You don't get enough chance to do programming.
  • You are used to working with many more people.

Your manager is almost certainly being evaluated by his manager regarding how well he develops and retains his employees. By making these sorts of problems known to him, you're allowing him to help you grow professionally - and make himself look good in turn. No, it won't mean you get the new role - but honestly, if you've only been in your role a present year, unless you have serious, visible accomplishments under your belt, you won't be able to make the move. Meanwhile, focusing on fixing problems where you are, rather than getting for the new job, will allow you to chalk up visible accomplishments in your present role, so that when a role you really want comes by later, you will have the leverage you need to get it.

Now about your particular situation, in DevOps:

Your present role, as you describe, does not sound like a DevOps role. As I understand it (and I manage some DevOps responsibilities), such a role would involve both programming and working across teams - both of which would solve your issues! As such, it is necessary to figure out why they hired you, a software developer, instead of someone from a typical support background.

When you tell your manager you want more programming responsibilities - watch his reaction. If he admits that he brought you on board because of your programming strengths, and he has plans to leverage it but has been overcome by events, then that is a good sign: he aspired to use you as a developer and you may want to stick around - provided he starts giving you enough opportunities that script programming becomes a significant part of your job (and you may have to nag a little to make sure you keep getting them). As a developer, you might make a real difference there - one visible enough that in a few years you can pick your opportunities. But if he just says he hired you because "he just needs smart people who can get things done," then this is a warning sign. That indicates your manager has no focus on automating your infrastructure, and you could be in a dead-end role. Particularly if that open role remains unfilled (that's how his bosses are telling him to "make do with less"), I'd update my resume and maybe even take a gamble with other internal roles.

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    By making these sorts of problems known to him, you're allowing him to help you grow professionally - and make himself look good in turn -- And if you can come to this meeting with suggestions? Man you are going to make your manager want and love to help you, because helping you makes him look great. This is a good answer, because I think most managers have the same perspective - trying to help their employees and enable them. – enderland May 6 '15 at 17:50
  • Here are some good recommendations here, but... While managers might prefer that you stay under them, plenty of them would be happy with you moving if it means you'd be happy and stay at the company. Transfer policy varies greatly between companies, you don't necessarily need "serious, visible accomplishments" to transfer. – Dukeling Oct 24 '17 at 19:40
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First of all, at my company, you must first talk to your manager before applying for another internal position, so check to see what the rules are.

Also, why not have a talk with your manager about your current position and state that your preference is to do more programming? Ask if it's possible in your current role, and if not, what steps do you need to take to transition to a role in the company where you would do more programming? A good boss isn't going to keep you just because he needs you, a good boss will be more than willing to help you move to the role that you desire. Having said that, you may need to give your current team a little bit of time before you transition to another role. I don't think it would be out of the ordinary for them to ask you to stay in your current role for a month while they hire someone else.

Regardless of what you decide to do in this situation, I think you should talk to your boss (or future boss) and state your desires to do more programming. One thing that I've learned recently at my job is that if there's something you want, you need to let that be known.

  • I think my concern may be the fact that they haven't already hired someone else, and we've had open spots for 4 months now. I'm willing to stick around while we limp along, but at the same time I don't think it'd really be fair to expect that of me if the hiring process is going to take another 4 months? – MrDuk Apr 30 '15 at 14:09
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    If you left, that might give your boss some motivation to take less than 4 months to hire someone. – coder1 Apr 30 '15 at 17:43
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Don't beat around the bush. See your manager and say that while he is deploying you in Devops because he needs you there, you really want to get back to C++ programming now that you've experienced Devops. Keep it straightforward. Keep it friendly. And tell him the reason you are telling him now is to give him as much advance time as possible to make the arrangements. I am assuming here that the C++ position being awarded to you - that's a done deal.

If you HAVE to interview for the C++ position, check with HR for their policies on applications for internal transfers. If HR allows you to interview without having to notify your boss, then don't notify your boss with the caveat that the assumption is that the receiving manager is not permitted to contact the current manager. If the assumption does not apply, then you'll have to bite the bullet and notify your boss.

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    OP states he still has to apply and interview. Because it is internal, the interviewer is likely to ask the OP's boss about him. By not telling the boss about applying, OP is probably causing major damage to his career with this company. – Dave Johnson Apr 28 '15 at 16:47
  • @DaveJohnson The interviewer is going to ask the OP's boss only after the interview has been successful and the offer is made pending a reference check. What's the point of the interviewer checking with the boss if the OP is not under serious consideration? – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 28 '15 at 17:00
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    It may simply be a professional courtesy. The interviewer will know that the applicant is internal, and will assume that the applicant's boss knows about the application. Or perhaps based on the resume and internal documentation the OP is under serious condition. Either way, if the boss finds out from someone other than the OP, it will not end well. – Dave Johnson Apr 28 '15 at 17:05
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    @VietnhiPhuvan I have to agree with Dave on this one... If I get an internal application the absolute first thing I'm going to do is contact his supervisor and ask them for some input about the candidate. When you apply for jobs outside the company, hush hush is good, when it's inside the company whether you tell someone or not both have things you need to consider. Some places keeping it quiet is best, others you should really be upfront about it. – RualStorge Apr 30 '15 at 17:06

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