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I am a new member in the team, for half of a year. When I joined the team, my boss/director assigned a mentor to me, who is responsible to train me and assign me projects. I reported to the director.

However, today, the director told me to report to that mentor directly. So that, he is no longer my boss, but my boss's boss.

I am thinking, am I downgraded? It seems like I have poorer visibility, and poorer promotion chances than previous. Is that right?

more information:

  1. Because I was very new, the mentor simply assigned some easy tasks to me. I think I either don't have too good or too bad impressions to the director.
  2. There are 40 people under this director.

My question is: should I talk with director directly, to get the reason?

  • 8
    do you think you have been downgraded? It could be that your boss now feels he doesn't have to watch you as much, you have proven yourself in the last 6 months. Also your mentor may have been upgraded for doing a good job with you, rather than you being downgraded. I assume you haven't had a pay cut or a reprimand? – Kilisi Jan 7 '16 at 4:24
  • No, there is no pay cut or any other change. I just feel sad because I no longer report to the director. Reporting to higher member is always better , right? – zxwjames Jan 7 '16 at 5:01
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    From my own experience. A new employee started at my company, I as his mentor in the same capacity as you descirbe. After a few weeks it was decided that the new guy would no longer report to the director but myself. This was an effort to give me more responsibility. This decision had nothing to do with the new guy's performance. – Novocaine Jan 8 '16 at 17:06
  • @Novocaine, why the director doesn't want the new guy reporting to you at the very beginning? – zxwjames Jan 8 '16 at 18:54
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    comments removed: Please don't use comments to answer questions as this may prevent others from providing full, complete answers that the community would vote on. Please see How should I post a useful non-answer if it shouldn't be a comment? for more guidance. – jmort253 Jan 9 '16 at 2:02
22

Do not think that you have been downgraded. There could be some reasons why the director told you to report to your mentor , reasons may be :

  1. You have worked and reported efficiently & regularly in the half year to the director so he/she knows that your work is very good and trusts you.
  2. The director might be getting extremely busy in other work and no longer has time to look at your reports so decided that you should report to your mentor from now on.
  3. The director may feel that your mentor should have some more responsibilities so they prefer this way.

All above are possibilities that I am assuming based on your question.

  • 2
    Totally agree with this. Sometimes in a smaller company, the Director likes to micro-manage, sizing up new recruits him/herself. Being assigned under a senior basically means he is confident with your abilities / character. Its a good start.. – nigelhanzo Jan 7 '16 at 8:43
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    +1 but I think there is also an alternate view of #3. It's possible that the mentor was always in some kind of training or promotion plan that included supervisory responsibilities and OP simply wasn't aware that change was less of a downgrade of him rather than a planned promotion for the mentor. – Joel Etherton Jan 7 '16 at 13:19
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    I've seen the third point happen first-hand. Instead of the mentee being downgraded it was the mentor being promoted into a more managerial rule. – Lan Jan 7 '16 at 14:03
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Organizations restructure all the time. Sometimes they add layers of management especially when the company is growing and that just means there is too much work for the director to directly supervise everyone.

To evaluate if this is a problem for you then you need to think about the answers to these questions:

Have there been any performance issues brought to my attention. If so then yes you have likely been downgraded.

Has my pay been affected? If yes, then you have been downgraded.

How does my report status compare to others in the organization who are doing equivalent work? If you are the only person reporting to this mentor and all the other devs report to the director still, then there could (note could not must) be a problem. If the group you are in does something specialized like say Data Science as opposed to a general development, then probably not, otherwise, this is a key signal there may be a problem.

Is there an obvious organizational need for a new group? If so, then no you are not demoted. They are simply splitting up responsibilities above you.

Is the organization growing rapidly? Then it is likely just that more layers need to be put into be able to effectively manage. This can be a plus or a minus, more layers and more people generally means more opportunity to move up in the organization but it often comes with more bureaucracy as well.

Is your new boss well respected in the organization? If yes then you likely don't have a problem, If no then you and he have been shunted off to get you out of the way and it could be a very big red flag.

Is it always best to report directly to top management - not likely unless you are very senior. As long as you are organizationally at the same level as your peers, there is not likely to be a problem due to organizational position. Junior people are expected to be at the bottom of the hierarchy. And nothing stops you from impressing the top person even if you don't directly report to him or her. Significant accomplishments that are known in the organization count for far more than who you report to (unless the person you report to is someone who has no organizational influence).

  • Thanks for the answer. The team is bigger, and not everyone can report to the director. The director added layers, and created 3 subgroups. – zxwjames Jan 7 '16 at 17:38
  • I still don't understand, why report to senior member may not be good. Actually, I have good relation with the director, but not that good with the mentor. So I don't want to report to the mentor directly. – zxwjames Jan 7 '16 at 17:40
  • I say that because for many really senior people, they are irritated at having to deal with junior technical issues when they have more business critical things to do and often they have left the technical so far behind that they are not good resources for the junior people to learn from or to get their technical questions answered. – HLGEM Jan 7 '16 at 18:43
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    @zxwjames - I would suggest you repair your relationship to your new supervisor and learn that in the workplace it is not smart to not get along with someone. I've worked for plenty of people who I personally did not care for or particularly respect. As long as you accept the paycheck, then you are obligated to try to work with them. (If it is so bad you can't then quit, but don't whine if you have trouble getting a job after six short-term jobs.) Organizations move people around. You have to learn to be able to work for anyone and give your best instead of pouting. – HLGEM Jan 7 '16 at 18:48
  • But it is still a downgrade. They were at a level and got bumped down. Even if the company is shifting people they are shifted down for a reason 90%+ part of the time. I doubt a new hire is that one off that needed to be refocused. – blankip Jan 7 '16 at 19:30
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No. It seems like your team is expanding.

Also, your boss may have been grooming your former mentor for more leadership responsibilities. Now he/she is ready to assume those.

Although you're further away from your former boss (rank-wise), you shouldn't see this as a "downgrade" or a demotion.

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Chances are that is a downgrade. The other answer answers things in a very positive light - in my opinion way too positive. However if you were efficient and doing a great job on your own I doubt the director would have cared about you reporting to them. I would assume that the director thought that you needed more attention than originally planned so you were bumped down below someone who could give you more attention.

I am not saying that you are closed to being fired or they think you are doing a terrible job. I am saying they planned for one thing and after you worked there for a while they changed that based on your performance. Is there a chance that they just wanted to give your mentor a report or something like that... sure. Is that the most probable answer... no.

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