Edit at bottom for clarification as this seems be be misinterpreted.

My boss wants to send me to a training seminar for a product a lot of our clients use. She mentions that this will also help me with my personal development and my career path.

This product is something I will rarely if ever encounter again as I move more towards development. I feel that learning more about it is only going to detract from what I am already focused on learning and understanding. I have been doing software and web development for the past three years and am trying to quickly move away from my other duties (Data Analyst). I do not plan on staying with this company much longer at my current pay level and lack of career pathing towards my goals.

My boss is very helpful thus far, and I do not want to scorn her by telling her that my goals for my career are much different than what she sees when she is actively trying to promote my career development. She is not familiar with software development in any way, and is very much a "people manager" not a technical one.

What are some tactful ways to let her know that my career goals are different than what she is promoting without scorning her efforts? I don't want her to spend the time and effort getting budget approvals for a training seminar for me to leave the company a few weeks afterwards. I also don't want to sacrifice my mobility in the company by putting a spotlight on my willingness to stay with the company.


I think this is being misinterpreted as I want to avoid doing work that my company needs me to do? This is not the case. I am doing whatever work they need or want me to do. However, as well as you, I have preferences what I would prefer to be doing. Preferring or wanting to do something different does not mean I am not doing what is needed.

I am also being tasked with web development projects from a different team, so I'm not just going off and doing my own thing because I want to move to development. I am already doing it, at my employer's request.

That being said, clarification:

My boss, is putting in extra effort not just for me, but for each person on our team, to try and find ways to advance each of us in our careers. I appreciate this, as she is providing us with value past a paycheck every two weeks. However, in my case my goals and aspirations are different from what she has assumed they are. I am already doing development, going to a training seminar about something I am guaranteed not to use or encounter in development is counter productive for me.

She has already put in effort for my benefit, I need to be tactful if I go to her and essentially tell her that her effort is for naught. That I appreciate her and what she is doing, but that I am actually interested in a different career path. Avoiding making her feel scorned.

  • 3
    Have you tried explaining this to her? If not, what do you expect her reaction to be if you do say what you've written here?
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 5:44
  • Many people write in their résumé objectives that they want to contribute to their own and their company's goals. Are you sure you're not only focusing on what your own goals are and ignoring company goals? Just food for thought.
    – cst1992
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 5:48
  • You ask for a lot of contradictory thing, perhaps just focus on the one that benefits you the most and let the rest take care of themselves.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 6:46
  • 1
    @cst1992 I think you are taking this the wrong way... She is putting in extra effort to find things that benefit for the company AND me. Why shouldn't they? I am selling my life to a company, we should mutually benefit from it. I want to tactfully let her know that the extra effort to help me is well meaning, but wasted as it's in the wrong direction. If you go out of your way to help someone, and come to find out they didn't appreciate it or that you didn't actually help at all, you may feel scored. Which is why I need to be tactful. I want to save her more wasted effort. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 7:56
  • 3
    Learning more about it is only going to detract from what I am already focused on learning? It this like a 1 year seminar? You are over reacting. Just go to the seminar.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:25

4 Answers 4


When I want someone to learn something I tell them those same three things:

  • it will serve this immediate need the company faces
  • it will make you more skilled and be good for your personal growth
  • it will help your longterm career here with us

Those last two bullets are for you. Going on course is hard - you have to listen, and learn, and these days you still get emails that you have to deal with at lunch and after hours, and maybe you aren't at your usual location, and so on. So I remind you that this isn't just for me, it's also for you.

You know something your boss doesn't know - those last two bullets mean nothing to you. If you tell your boss this, the first bullet doesn't go away. The decision has already been made that spending the money on the training is worth it to the company because of the first bullet. Most firms allot little or no benefit to the other two, except in a vague "employee satisfaction and retention" way. Sometimes people would request courses like "assertive communication" or whatnot and I would agree simply for last-two-bullet reasons, but that was the exception. Your boss has justified the cost of the course and your time for first-bullet reasons.

So what are your choices?

  • take the training, and be more valuable here and now in the job you have.
  • refuse the training, and lower your value to your boss. You're also considering adding "plus I really don't want to stay here long term" to the conversation.

I don't see the value in the second one. I guess it feels honest, but bosses these days know that people move around more - companies, fields, careers - and plan accordingly. When you leave, your boss will be able to replace you. A multi-year heads-up probably isn't needed.

I think the best response would be to go on the course, while reminding your boss that you've been doing a lot of development lately, and enjoying it, and some more formal training in that direction would also be terrific, when budgets allow of course. This is co-operative, useful, and honest.


From what I understand, you are now following a career path that you will soon abandon, in order to do something that will appeal more to you. That is understandable, since nobody should expect you to keep doing something you don't enjoy. However, your boss doesn't seem to know that you're not interested in data analysis, and you need to let her know as soon as possible.

Here are some things I think you could do:

1) Have a clear view of the time period in which you want to leave the company. You mentioned that you don't want to stay with the company for much longer, so the best thing you can do is to set yourself a goal. Something like: "I will leave this company by the end of the year."

2) Arrange a meeting with your boss. You can arrange a meeting, or just talk to her when you know you won't be overheard (although I think an official meeting is more appropriate in this situation), and you can start by telling her how grateful you are for all the interest she is taking in you. You can then inform her of your plans of leaving the company (also mention the period in which you want to leave), and mention that your interest lies more with software development, and that you will be looking for a career in that direction.

You said that your boss is a "people manager", so I'm assuming she's aware that there is always someone who is looking for something different than what they started out with. As long as you make it clear to her that you have no regrets about working with her until now, and that your dedication to the job won't change, I don't think you run the risk of making her feel insulted.

The way you phrase this is important, and I can't tell you exactly what to say to her (you know her best and know how to discuss the issue), but I hope this can at least help you get started.


Are you sure you'll never use this training? Is there no chance that this training will ever be useful to you at any point and is there any prerequisite that you refund your company for the training if you leave?

If I was in your position (and assuming you don't have to pay the cost of the course) I would quietly do the training but not let it affect my goals. I might tactfully talk about how passionate I am about the development work, but I wouldn't let her know I was intending on leaving.

I understand you want to help your boss but I don't see an easy way for you to spell it out for her without you damaging your own position. You never want your company to know you're intending to leave before you have an offer in hand and even giving them clues you're unsettled is not for your benefit.


Do you suppose that any tactful way that you convey the message that you and the firm have irreconciliable differences is not going to result in your boss's getting rid of you?

Until the day you leave, you owe your employer the rendering of your services in exchange for your paycheck. One of those services is performing product support for the firm's clients, for which she is sending you to a training seminar. If you are planning to resign a week after the training seminar, then you should tell her before the seminar as a matter of being considerate. If you are thinking of leaving but haven't firmed up any plans, then say nothing because you really have nothing that you can pinpoint as definite to say to her.

Until the day you leave, you perform whatever work the employer requires of you, as long as the laws are not being broken and your sense of ethics is not challenged.

  • 2
    I think this is being taken the wrong way, the opposite actually. I am doing the work my employer wants and needs. However, my boss is putting in effort to make this mutually beneficial by providing me with helpful career pathing in what she thinks I plan to advance in. While I very much appreciate this, it's in a way that does not help me at all, and for the company they will likely not get the "bang for their buck" out of their money if I don't continue to stay with the company. She is trying to be very helpful, but it ends up not being, and I need to be tactful to avoid her feeling scorned. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 8:00
  • I added clarification. However, I am wondering if I should just delete this post and re-write it. I don't think anyone that has read it this far has interpreted it in the way that I meant. If you agree, delete your answer and I can go forward with that. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 8:12
  • @DouglasGaskell She'll feel scorned if she is into the habit of taking personally whatever her business interactions are - It's outside of your control that a significant percentage of managers mix up business with personality. If I were to leave, I'd tell her that my leaving need not be the end of our professional relationship but a beginning and that my career is going to go on the up and up over time. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 15:31

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