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My manager is retiring soon, leaving the management of my team up in the air. Initially, I was pegged to take over his role by upper management, and was groomed to do so, increasingly taking on more responsibilities over the last few years.

Lately, as his retirement looms near, upper management has indicated that there has been talk of merging several teams, but no firm decisions have yet been made. To cover the management of my team until a decision on the merger is made, I would be offered a "secondment", allowing me to move from my current technical position into a management position and manage the team for a year. After a year, the position would be re-evaluated, based on the decision of whether or not to merge teams.

Perhaps I'm being overly cynical, but I'm having a hard time understanding how this is a good thing for me. Yes, it gives me some management experience, which I currently don't have, other than a few projects on which I served as project manager. On the other hand, it strikes me as a way to cover my manager's position until a permanent replacement can be found. It also strikes me as a year-long interview.

Would you view this as a good opportunity? Suggestions on things to watch out for would be appreciated.

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    Do you think not taking it would be good for your career?
    – paparazzo
    Mar 15 '16 at 5:17
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I know this probably isn't the outcome you were expecting, and you have disappointed expectations. However, moving forward, I see only upside to accepting their offer. True they may merge your teams, and possibly may bring in someone from outside. But refusing their offer will not prevent that; in fact, it will probably make it more likely. Their offer shows that they are undecided, and are willing to let you take the lead for a little while and try things out.

It sounds like it is not impossible that they will make promotion permanent. And if they do merge teams and bring in a new manager, then at least you got management experience for a while, which will be an invaluable resume line-item if you ever apply for a management position in the future.

And if you say no? I would say that sends a message, and excludes you from consideration for promotion for at least a few years (or longer). Also, you miss out on gaining a management perspective and experience.

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  • "And if you say no? I would say that sends a message, and excludes you from consideration for promotion for at least a few years (or longer)." +1 - my experience and observation is that turning down a promotion or stepping out of management will mark you as someone content to stay in the trenches, even if you just thought that position wasn't right for you.
    – GreenMatt
    Mar 15 '16 at 15:04
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I don't really have long term career experience, but it sounds like it's a good opportunity. You've said that you don't have a ton of management experience. So this would give you more management experience than you currently have. And you've said management was grooming you for the position earlier. So you probably are their first choice unless some upper management have major concerns.

Sure, I would probably be a little worried about the secondment being a year long interview. And I think I might be worried about not getting the promotion I was expecting. But you could also just view this as an opportunity to check out the new job for a year. I don't know about management level positions, but I've heard that short term jobs are common in tech. And you already have several years of experience at this company. So you could just start somewhat actively looking for a new position at a different company before the year was up. And if you got other offers you were really interested in, you would probably be much more comfortable negotiating for what you wanted when your job changed in your current company.

I'm sure this is a disappointment, and it probably isn't as good the expected promotion. But accepting the promotion is much better than denying it. If I wanted to get into a management level position I would much rather be looking for a new job with a year's worth of management experience instead of no management experience.