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I have a job that I've almost always liked. Unfortunately, the past few months I have been assigned to a team of people I just don't get along with. I work with a certain individual, "George", and we have never really gotten along.

George is my senior(though not my boss) at the company and and our relationship is quite strained. It's bad enough where the thought of continuing to work with him for more than a few weeks more is causing me minor depression.

I can say without hesitation changing teams would help me immensely. I haven't had problems with any one else and enjoy almost everyone I work with.

I asked my boss(and his boss) to change teams and told him clearly it was because of George. I indicated I didn't think it was a problem with either of us, just that we don't work well together. I've been told it's on the agenda, but nothing is going to happen in the immediate future. Teams can stay together for a few months to a few years. I told them I really want a change but didn't say anything beyond that. I don't think they understand I would quit over this.

In short, I am already looking for another job but would stop once they said they would move me.

I feel like having a job offer for leverage will do damage to the current relationship with my employer and I much rather resolve this without an ultimatum.

I don't want to give my boss an ultimatum, but how can I friendly say "If this doesn't change, I am going to be leaving soon"?

  • 47
    1. line up a new job. 2. give the ultimatum as politely as you find possible – amphibient Jul 14 '15 at 15:34
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    There's no such thing as a polite ultimatum. Why can't you and George work things out or at least agree to stay out of each other's way? – teego1967 Jul 14 '15 at 15:40
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    @teego1967, sometimes it's easier to find a new job than to deal with difficult people – amphibient Jul 14 '15 at 15:47
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    @amphibient: In the next job, one of the interview questions will likely be "How did you deal with a team member who was confrontational or adversarial?" -- Switching jobs is not the answer any employer wants to hear. – Joel Etherton Jul 14 '15 at 18:22
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    Curious, how do others on your team deal with George? If George is as bad as you feel he is, then you can't be alone in feeling how you feel. If you are alone, then it's time for some soul searching... before you make a mistake. – Zoomzoom Jul 14 '15 at 22:29

16 Answers 16

68

In short, I am already looking for another job but would stop once they said they would move me.

I don't want to give my boss an ultimatum, but how can I friendly say "If this doesn't change, I am going to be leaving soon"?

One definition of ultimatum is "a final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which will result in retaliation or a breakdown in relations."

There's no way to deliver an "If you don't... then I am going to leave" message that isn't an ultimatum. If you are serious, it is indeed an ultimatum (perhaps a friendly one). If you aren't serious, it's just an idle threat.

You already asked for a transfer to a different team, and were told that it was in the works, but not imminent. If you can't wait, then you are right to seek another job.

If you really think they don't understand the depth of your concern, and believe that your boss might hasten your transfer if he knew, then you need to be clearer in your communication. You could up the ante by saying something like "I understand this transfer will happen eventually. But this is really important to me, and I don't think I can wait that long." This is still a subtle ultimatum.

Only you can decide if your boss will be amenable to further discussion, if you can wait until the promised transfer happens, or if this is a lost cause.

For me, I wouldn't threaten to quit until I already had an offer in hand. Your mileage may vary.

  • 5
    +1 for clear communication. Maybe your boss thought that "it's in the works" was enough to keep you happy for the time being. It's only fair if you tell him that this isn't the case. – Sumyrda Jul 14 '15 at 21:16
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    I have been in this position before, and clearly communicating what is going to happen is key. I didn't think of it as an ultimatum though. I just told my boss "I'm unhappy with the current conditions because X. If Y & Z happen I will be content. I think 3 months is a reasonable time-frame to expect the changes, and if the changes aren't possible, then I will likely look for another position." It's not an ultimatum - it's information similar to what I would do to give management a heads up on a project that's run into a problem. – ColleenV Jul 15 '15 at 14:24
  • @ColleenV The only problem is that if your manager is not capable of making Y and Z happen in these three months, they will either make you redundant or fire you. If you cannot find a job in this time frame, you will be either more miserable than before or unemployed. "I wouldn't threaten to quit until I already had an offer in hand": golden rule. – Adam Smith Jan 6 '18 at 19:10
0

Threatening your boss, which is what giving him a ultimatum is, is just not a good idea.

Ultimately the company gets to define your working environment, and you get to decide whether that job, as defined by the company, is worth it for you. Trying to force change for your comfort usually doesn't work, and usually leaves resentment no matter how it is addressed (or not).

In this case, the obvious answer is to continue looking for alternate employment. It's a good thing to know what your options are. Maybe you even discover a better job than what you'd have even if they fixed the George problem. Then also go to the boss and ask him when to expect that re-assignment. If you get it, or are convinced you will get it, before you find a better job, great. If you find a better job, great. If neither happens then continue looking for that better job until you find one.

-2

Assumption is that the friction with George is purely work related and George has nothing good to teach/offer and is a complete jerk.

Key take away from your situation is there are mainly Four options for you A. Choose to stay in same team and put up with George B. Consult with George C. Consult with your Boss for change of team D. Choose to provide ultimatum for a change of team or leave for another job

A and B could happen mutually or exclusively with little risk to your employment. On a positive side this may have tremendous impact on your professional life when you look back at how you dealt with the situation. THis is a hard road to take but one with greater fulfillment at the end of the journey. Provided you deal with George professionally and do not aggravate the situation yourself or coming across as unprofessional yourself. B can result in matters changing for the better in which case you may have chosen to stay ie. situation A. If B does not result in easing of the situation then you would choose A. or C. and D. C can put your situation on the Boss's radar and your Boss may react +ve, -Ve or neutral. Depending on your employment situation and your worth to the company your request will be dealt accordingly. Be prepared to explain your situation and also to go into a meeting called by your boss with George, which in my opinion you may not stand a chance with a senior employee like George. D can put your Boss on his backfoot and may even be considered that you are in the position of power rather the Boss himself. Remember George is a senior employee and you may never know how much of influence or employee worth he may have compared to you.

I wish I had asked a question in a similar situation I was in, I probably wouldn't have taken any advise but you are already wise to have posted this in a forum. Remember every situation is a learning lesson and only thing that matters your response and your sincerity to your job.

-1

A good strategy, generally, for workplace issues like these, is to imagine you were describing a system in which YOU WERE NOT PRESENT, like your office was an ant colony or a computer system. If you were talking about a computer system you could say "Part X causes a lot of stress on part Y, and if this is not addressed, by replacing or fixing part X, part Y is going to no longer be able to work effectively.". Then imagine George is part X and you are part Y.

Now, you're just describing a situation, without bringing any emotions or other personal issues into it.

0

Sorry to frame my answer in a set of questions. However, sometimes a bit of forethought/reflection to see things under a diff. light helps. I realize some of these comes across as cynical but, if you plan to stay there for a long time, walk gingerly.

  • What does your gut tell you?
  • Has your performance suffered tellingly as result--from your boss's view point?
  • Were you a top performer before?
  • Has George had issues w/anyone else your boss knows about? If so, how was it resolved?
  • Does George treat everyone like that or do you feel singled out?
  • Have you had problems w/other people at this firm --in a diff. team-- before/ever?
  • What if, in the new team you find yet another problem person? What do you do then? probably this is a one-shot opportunity before being labelled "not a team player" by upper management
  • Trust that you will make the right decision
  • Would getting the HR involved be (mis)construed as an escalation and making your boss look bad? --company culture/your boss's boss's viewpoint
  • Would mentioning depression, etc. have other unwanted repercussions later? Not knowing your boss/company, unless I trusted my boss/HR/company at large, that would not be counted negatively, i.e., misinterpreting your difficulty as psychologically weak/unstable/unbalanced, etc. --once that gate is opened is very hard to control
0

An ultimatum is a threat and an attempt to assert power; you really can't directly issue a threat from a position of weakness (regardless of whether you intend to carry it out or not) without coming across as petulant or idiotic. As an aside, ultimatums from a position of strength are a completely different animal.

The correct way to handle this is a little more diplomatic than going around and proclaiming "if I don't get my way, I'm going home". For one, if you issue that ultimatum you have to be prepared to follow through on it no matter the personal cost or risk losing all credibility in any future negotiations. For another, you're likely to trigger some negative emotions from your counter-party, which is a dangerous and unpredictable game.

You can't really influence your manager's decision about whether to move you immediately or not. Therefore, your only play here is to be sure that your manager understands the risk; ideally, you'd do that in such a way that you don't end up burning bridges or backing yourself in a corner. Once you know your manager understands the risk, then his actions tell you the next play - in this case, looks like the options are either stick it out or find a new job.

How you communicate this risk to your manager while maintaining some level of composure depends on your relationship until now. In my case, I generally don't bring things up to my management unless asked, or it's a serious problem I need help with. I can get away with saying something seemingly nonchalant and with a smile like "I don't know how much longer I can continue working with George" a few times and the message would be clear.

If I really wanted to emphasize it, a comment such as "George is stressing me out this week" would add a little more emphasis to the fact that I see George as a problem.

If I was feeling particularly bold and unsure that my message was being received, I may throw in a throwaway comment about a local firm that's hiring or a friend that started a new position such as "You remember Bob? I ran into him at the grocery store - he just started over at Acme Corp. Says it's been really good - maybe I should apply there! Ha ha!" (you have to do this as a joke; the point is to let them know you know the market and know you have options, not to threaten).

These seemingly throwaway comments and jokes are code for the following series of statements - but never made in an overtly threatening or unprofessional manner:

  • I don't like George, and am unhappy working with him
  • I know I can change it (so do you)
  • I'm giving you a chance to change it first
  • If you don't or can't then I will

At that point, a few different things can happen. Your manager is clueless and didn't receive the message. Your manager is aware of the risk, and chooses to do nothing about it. Or your manager actively works towards a resolution.

If your manager is clueless, you're kind of stuck. Assuming not everyone in your organization is clueless, you still can't issue an ultimatum. So you should either find a new job, and/or work towards replacing your manager.

If your manager is aware of the risk, and chooses to do nothing about it - then you have the answer to your ultimatum without ever having to issue one and living through the consequences. You don't have enough leverage to force a change; sounds like you need to polish off that resume. By avoiding the confrontation though, you can do it on your own timetable and with no ill feelings.

If your manager is actively working towards a resolution, then you get what you wanted without ill feelings. Your manager will appreciate your subtlety, and won't have to explain to his boss that he moved you because you were unhappy and complained (which, believe me, he doesn't want to do...because his boss would probably just fire you or plan for your replacement instead, because he doesn't want you having that power over his organization).

  • Welcome to the site Mark. Thank you for taking the time to write an excellent first post. – Lilienthal Jul 15 '15 at 19:07
  • This passive-aggressive approach could be counter-productive. As a manager, I would much rather have my employee be direct than throw around little "hints" like this. – Roger Jul 27 '15 at 14:12
  • @Roger - I don't think this qualifies as passive-aggressive at all; it's a way to protect yourself from managers who would otherwise take the approach of firing or marginalizing you for being "direct". It also gives the manager an out if they are unable or unwilling to concede - the direct approach forces a conflict where the manager must either lie (we're working on it) or directly refuse the request (we are prepared to accept your resignation in lieu of moving you) and the inevitable fallout that entails. – Mark Brackett Jul 27 '15 at 16:26
  • One other thought, that depends a little on context. If there's open roles on other teams - ask for those roles (as opposed to asking to be removed from your current role). This sends the same message (hey, I'd be happier somewhere else) without, again, being "direct" (hey - I hate my current team). Then, if you do leave, you can truthfully say it was because of "lack of opportunities" instead of "interpersonal conflict". IOW - never get caught complaining. – Mark Brackett Jul 27 '15 at 16:37
2

The best way to phrase it, is to make it sound like it is out of your control - that way, they are less likely to blame you. Say something like: "I just want you to know that I really enjoy working here, and leaving is the last thing I want to do. I know that you've been doing your absolute best to help me, and I've tried everything I can think of, but I'm afraid it's just not going to be possible for me to continue working in the same team as George". When your manager asks "what do you mean?" you calmly explain that, once you get home tonight, you plan to begin looking for a new job.

No need to mention that by "looking for" you mean "signing the contract for" - if you say you've already found a job, then it sounds like an ultimatum. But if you make it seem more like you've reached the end of your rope and you simply have no choice, then it's not your fault. It's not an ultimatum; it's just you accepting the misfortune that fate has thrust upon you.

Depending on the manager (and whether they read this site :p) they may just fire you on the spot for trying to manipulate them, but 9 times out of 10 you'll get better results taking the softball approach, especially if you are actually sincere about wanting to stay there.

There's a big difference between "give me what I want or I walk" and "I wish there was some way I could stay" - the first one puts you into a confrontation; in the second case, you are working together with your manager to try and solve a mutual problem. It makes you allies rather than enemies, which is a much better position to be in.

  • +1. There are other answers that give better advice overall, but this answer gives the best advice on how to give an ultimatum politely. – ruakh Jul 16 '15 at 4:01
  • This advice could work in certain situations, but in many it will cause a great many burnt bridges and hurt feelings when you show up the next day with a letter of resignation. In addition, in some situations, the manager may decide you are the problem (since no one else has a problem with George) from this approach. – Emerson Jul 16 '15 at 6:47
  • @Emerson The point of this approach, is that you are not saying "George is a problem", but that there is some incompatibility between you and the workplace - you're not the problem; George is not the problem; No single person is at fault, and no fingers are being pointed. Just the simple fact that the two of you are not able to work together. – Benubird Jul 16 '15 at 7:24
  • @Benubird while I understand that, not everyone does. At the end of the day your complaint is about how you cannot work with George. If George works well with the rest of the company, then it could be construed as you not being a good fit anymore. In particular if George is part of a minority group, it could be taken to be that you don't like working with that specific minority group. This can be compounded if the manger does not like that style of manipulation (some of us view it as dishonest), which could cause them to view you in a negative light. – Emerson Jul 17 '15 at 4:16
  • @Emerson You are right on all counts, although I would say that if you are not being a good fit anymore, then you should leave. – Benubird Jul 17 '15 at 8:21
3

You have a business relationship with your employer. Part of your job is to maintain that relationship so that your customer - ie, the company - is happy and continues to employ you. However, don't be afraid to fire your customer (ie, quit) if they aren't willing to likewise maintain the relationship.

So I'm going to go against the grain here. Issue an ultimatum, but do so professionally. Request a meeting with your boss and their superior or an HR representative.

Here are the things you want to convey:

  • You used to enjoy working here
  • You really, really want to make this work out
  • You've already tried many things to resolve the situation before this meeting

Here are the things you do NOT want to convey:

  • George is a bad person/worker/boss (unprofessional)
  • You are already looking for another job (unprofessional)
  • You are suffering mentally or experiencing depression which you attribute to the job (unprofessional)

Remember, anything you bring up in the meeting may be scrutinized as an opportunity for them to resolve the matter in a way you find unacceptable. When they ask you what it is about working with George that is causing a problem, you can probably make a laundry list, and they can probably pick it apart and suggest ways for you to deal with some items, suggest you accept others without change, and even offer to make George change a few others. These concessions won't help you though - if they could, you'd have already resolved the problem. If you suggest that you are becoming depressed, they'll focus on that and ask if you're seeing medical professionals, if you understand the company's disability policy, etc.

So don't distract them with ancillary information that won't motivate them to change in the direction they must go for you to stick around.

Thank you both for meeting with me. I've been working here for N years, and up until X months ago I really enjoyed it. When I was moved to George's team, I quickly discovered that he and I don't mesh together well. There's nothing specific I can point to that if one of us changed would resolve the problem.

I've already requested that I be moved to another team, but it appears this might not happen for weeks, or longer, and I've reached a point where I recognize that I could either wait an unknown length of time for the team change to occur, or I could start looking for a new job and at least feel that I was doing something to resolve the problem, rather than merely waiting for it to resolve itself according to a time-frame I cannot influence.

It's not a good feeling, though, and while I strongly want to continue to work here, I haven't been given a deadline or any way to influence the change process. Can the change be made in the next 2 weeks, or should I start looking for a position elsewhere? I really do want to stay here, but I understand that you might not be able to accommodate such a change so quickly. I would rather level with you than look for a job without giving you the opportunity to improve our business relationship.

Of course, any sort of ultimatum may result, as others mention, in them simply saying, "We understand, good luck in your job search and please give us two weeks notice" or even, "Thank you for your time here, please clean out your desk and leave."

The reality, though, is that you probably don't want to work for such short-sighted or short-tempered people anyway, and moving on will probably be a good thing for you in the long run. At least this way you can say that you tried, and you might be surprised - they may truly want you to stay and might work with you to provide the environment you need to work optimally.

  • This is an excellent answer that deserves more upvotes. In a well-run organization, this would be a great way to address the problem. I would caution, though, that this is only a good option when the employee has a good relationship with their manager and believes that the parties involved will listen and will act in good faith to resolve the problem. A lot of managers (bad ones, mostly) would see an attempt to call such a meeting as a direct threat to their authority. – Roger Jul 27 '15 at 14:08
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I think you are looking at the problem from an angle that isn't helpful to you. I would suggest to instead reformulate it from an angle where you have more control. Right now you have others in control. You are now for instance giving George way too much power over your life and you can't even fix it yourself you need your boss (your boss is not your mommy) to fix it for you.

I would suggest there is a valuable lesson for you to learn here so I would not recommend quitting. You will encounter another George in every future job you will have. Most people chose this path but it is the wrong path.

I think it would be more helpful to you to instead own your own problem. You need to identify how the relationship deteriorated and what steps you can take to improve it. Depending of how bad you allowed things to deteriorate you may have very little or a lot of work to do.

All this requires maturity and the ability to take feedback from self reflection and from George who probably looks at the situation from a different perspective.

In regard to your boss nothing would impress him more than if you went to him and tell him that you will fix it. Being able to deal with difficult people it's an important soft skill you can leverage on an interview. You yourself will feel better because you are doing something about it. I hope this helps.

11

Some of the other answers are distinctly "anti-ultimatum", so I'm adding here the perspective that ultimatums are a normal part of business negotiations.

While ultimatums are quite impolite in social situations, there's absolutely nothing inherently impolite about an "ultimatum" in a business negotiation. All that an ultimatum signals in business transaction is that, from your side, you have better options than are being offered by the other party, and you have no reason to stay. Ultimatums are universal in business negotiations. When you hold out for more pay in a hiring negotiation, you are essentially issuing an ultimatum ("I won't work at this company for $X or lower"). If you've never issued an ultimatum in a business negotiation, you're probably getting fleeced.

A manager who always reacts negatively to ultimatums is clearly undervaluing the employees that are more difficult to replace than implementing their "demands" would cost the company.

That being said, it's important to couch the phrasing of an ultimatum so that it's clearly a business ultimatum rather than a social ultimatum. I.e., instead of using the informal cliche "or I'm leaving", say "or I'll have to consider other employment options".

  • 3
    I agree in that in a professional/business context ultimatums &c. are nothing bad. But, from my experience, many people pretend to be professionals and claim the benefits thereof for themselves, while actually behaving much like children. And being offended or feeling attacked personally by an ultimatum posed by a subordinate, or anything that might urge some action, is not really uncommon. – JimmyB Jul 15 '15 at 13:15
  • @HannoBinder Agreed. But, obviously, Rule 1 of ultimatums is don't issue one unless you actually have better options. If you follow this rule you're pretty well protected from the consequences. It is, of course, a measure of last resort when all other avenues have been exhausted. – Atsby Jul 15 '15 at 16:28
  • @Atsby You don't play poker ? – IvanP Jul 17 '15 at 13:49
  • @IvanP No, but playing poker with one's employment -- an interesting idea. – Atsby Jul 17 '15 at 21:53
  • Ultimatums can be delivered harshly and without empathy. They can be delivered in a straightforward manner without much verbal lace. Either way, the answer above is clearly honest and humane. Most of us don't go throughout our day dropping ultimatums on people. If someone gives me an ultimatum, I listen. I reflect. I don't judge. – user29416 Sep 22 '16 at 6:57
1

First thing I'd consider is to see if there is any way to address the issue with the troublesome colleague. You don't have to be best buddies, but you may be able to set boundaries that let you effectively work together.

Failing that, your ultimatum delivery depends on couple of things:

  1. How well you get along with your boss

  2. The way you communicate your concerns

If you have a good relationship with your boss, #2 is less of a concern, but you can still remove the emotion of a cold, hard ultimatum with something softer, but still likely to be understood.

Something along the lines of "If the current situation continues for much longer, it's really going to start to make me consider my position here - which is a shame, because up until now I have really been enjoying it."

So you're not saying you'll leave. Just that you may have to consider it. That still gives your boss a chance to understand and address your issue while communicating that your resignation is an option (rather than a certainty) should there be no resolution.

11

I'm really confused why you can't just tell your manager something like this:

I'm honestly not fitting well into this team -- I'm doing my best, but it's just not working out, and it's hurting my experience and also my work at the company. Is there any chance at all that I could be moved to another team in the next few weeks? I'm happy to wait a few more weeks and I will do my best to make it work until then, but I've already waited X weeks, and it's just too detrimental of an experience for me to continue waiting and working in this team without having something clear to look forward to in the near future.

There's no reason to say anything about seeking another job to get the point across that you're pretty desperate. Just say something like this to make your manager clearly understand that you indeed want to stay around, but that if the answer is "no" then you might have to solve the problem yourself.

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    I have pretty much done this and said what you suggested almost verbatim. – Ronnie W Jul 14 '15 at 20:53
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    @RonnieW.: Oh... and he still isn't doing anything? Well in that case just leave for another job, don't even bother with an ultimatum because they've already understood how important this is so an ultimatum isn't going to change anything. – Mehrdad Jul 14 '15 at 20:56
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    This could be used as the textbook definition of a "polite ultimatum". The ultimatum is never actually voiced; just the problem, and the efforts that have been made to improve the situation, and an emphasis on how important it is to resolve the situation at some point in the near future. The "or else" clause doesn't need to actually be stated; it's implicit. – Trevor Powell Jul 17 '15 at 7:36
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    I really like how the message is only about "me" and "I" and "my", and not about judging others or ordering them around. – kubanczyk May 20 '17 at 2:39
60

As a manager, and in general in my personal life, I respond to ultimatums by immediately agreeing to the consequence. "If you don't X I will have to resign," someone says. "I'm very sorry to hear that, we'll miss you," is my immediate reply. "When will your last day be?" This is regardless of whether I think X is a good idea or not. It is simply how I react to ultimatums. "I won't come to your party if Y is invited," someone says. "I'm sorry you feel that way. We'll have to get together another time." (I once said that to BOTH HALVES of a feud, neither of whom came to the party.) I think you know that many people react like this, because you want a polite ultimatum.

So, step 1 - do not phrase it as an ultimatum and do not say "yes" if asked "are you giving me an ultimatum?"

Step 2 then, how to phrase it. You already have. Go to your boss and say:

The thought of continuing to work with him for more than a few weeks more is causing me minor depression. I can say without hesitation changing teams would help me immensely. I haven't had problems with any one else and enjoy almost everyone I work with. I am already looking for another job but will stop as soon as you say you will move me.

Come at it from a point of view of "please, help me be able to stay at this company." But be open to solutions other than "move me to a new team." Perhaps it's George who should move teams. Perhaps someone else can move onto your team who could be a buffer between the two of you or enable you to interact with each other less. Perhaps George could be spoken to about whatever behaviours are a problem for you. Perhaps another team member would be prepared to mitigate those behaviours. Say George is an interrupter. Other people might take on the role of reminding George to let you finish. You haven't been at all specific about what the issues are, so it's hard to suggest "fixes" but the point is there are fixes other than "move me to another team" and "I quit."

Your boss may not be able to help you, even if that means losing you. But if you make this a power struggle I am quite sure your boss will choose to show you who has the power, by telling you to go ahead and quit if that's what you need to do. So keep it solution-focused and be open to many possible solutions.

  • 34
    Someone else mentioned this, but there are times ultimatums are necessary. Ex: "You need to fix the sexual harassment or else I am going to leave". Or "I haven't received a paycheck in two months, I am afraid I need to get paid or else I am leaving." If you already have a response in your head, regardless of the concern, then you may need to listen more. – Ronnie W Jul 14 '15 at 22:04
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    Ironically, in your head your are saying "If you are giving me an ultimatum, (regardless if it is a good idea or not) then I will..." – Ronnie W Jul 14 '15 at 22:14
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    I am aware that this behaviour of mine isn't logical. I am even aware that there are times my irritation with the way an issue is brought to me and the attitude of the bringer may cause me to make a decision that the long run will show me is wrong. I consider it at least slightly wise to at least know this about myself. Perhaps in another few decades I'll have completely overcome it. In the meantime I know there are others who react this way, so I'm sharing our existence with you all and providing some tips for how to avoid triggering this response. I didn't ask for advice about myself :-) – Kate Gregory Jul 14 '15 at 23:51
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    Lots of great food for thought in this answer and thread, and I disagree with the previous comment that there is anything at all gender-specific about it. – Don Hatch Jul 15 '15 at 22:03
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    Davor is right it is just silly. I'll give you an ultimatum: you either get counseling to deal with this defensive attitude, or else you must give me a million dollars. – Bproductive Jul 17 '15 at 13:17
8

It is not clear to me if you have told him why you want to change teams or if you have sugar-coated the reason. You can't blame your boss for not acting if he doesn't actually know what the problem is or how serious it is from your perspective. I don't mean telling him you would quit, but telling him what the issue with this person is, that it is causing stress and depression, and what you have done to try to make it work.

  • I have updated the question to be more clear. – Ronnie W Jul 14 '15 at 22:07
74

Unfortunately; I think "polite" and "ultimatum" are mutually exclusive.

Issuing an ultimatum would put your manager on the defensive; and would probably damage your working relationship even further. You would also run into the problem of actually having to follow through. You've been told it's on the agenda, but are you really willing to walk out the door right now? You might also be seen as a possible risk (can't have a disgruntled employee with full access to source code & network credentials); and you might end up taking that walk a lot sooner than you're planning.

My suggestion would be to bring it up with your manager and try and use "manager-speak" to see if you can get reassigned. Things like "I feel that I could be more productive in Unit XYZ", "This is causing a lot of stress which is making it hard to stay focused", etc. Try to demonstrate that it is beneficial to the company if you get reassigned.

One other thing to note; if you're looking for another job offer to use as leverage; it can backfire. I've seen the situation where someone comes in with one and it generally leads to 3 outcomes:

  • Manager reconsiders; but notes employee could be flighty. They get moved to less mission critical projects; and get let go with the next round of layoffs/"downsizing"
  • "Well, best of luck. Door's over there, we'll mail you your last paycheck"
  • Manager sees the errors of his ways and everyone is a big happy family again.

I've seen the first 2 options play out much more than the 3rd.

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    "Three things can happen and two of them are bad". Actually there's a kind of 0th thing that can happen -- someone goes looking for leverage, finds a better job, and realises that they don't need leverage, they should just take the better job. – Steve Jessop Jul 15 '15 at 2:30
  • @SteveJessop DAYUM!!! That was so well put. – Renae Lider Jul 16 '15 at 11:27
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    Polite and ultimatum are not mutually exclusive. One may deliver it poorly, perhaps, but then it is the delivery, not the fact that someone is clearly stating what's going to happen. – Tony Ennis Jul 16 '15 at 12:07
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    Politeness is not exclusive with anything except rudeness. You can literally kill a person while being completely polite to him. – Davor Jul 17 '15 at 10:40
  • @Davor "My name is Bond, James Bond. Nice to meet you. Goodbye." (boom) – Per Lundberg Feb 2 at 20:11
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Show your immediate manager how it is impacting your productivity and causing you strain which is affecting your performance. If you can't get your manager on board to assist you in this matter then you should be able to go through the proper HR channels to attempt an amiable resolution. I wouldn't go so far as to give your boss an ultimatum unless you have something lined up already and/or are prepared to follow through with such an ultimatum. It would not be advisable to tell you boss you would leave soon. You either stick it out, or you walk out then and there. No one reasonably says they are going to leave soon as an ultimatum. If you can avoid burning bridges, by all means avoid such. Let others do the bridge burning but don't join them.

protected by Community Jul 16 '15 at 20:11

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