My company has posted a position in another department. It looks like I am qualified for the position. Before applying for the position I talked to my supervisor and was encouraged to apply.

In a few days I will have an interview for the new position. I have heard from a friend in HR that he heard that I will not end up with the job because my boss's boss doesn't want to let me go from my department. I have some critical processes and me leaving them will impact the performance of my team. I've been told that my supervisor is actually fighting for me but is being overruled.

I understand in a way what's going on; they don't want to be left without resources, but then again they are stopping my growth for something that is not my fault! On top on that, I don't think they will offer a position change or salary raise to retain me.

I'm at a point where I need to make a decision. I heard something that I probably shouldn't have been told, but I can't be 100% certain that the rumor is true.

I am faced with a dilemma:
So I'm really worried about this, and I'm tempted to quit the company. I liked it here and I think is a good company but I cannot believe what's happening. Quitting without knowing would probably not be a good idea.

Is there something I can do in my present position to prevent this from happening?

  • 1
    Can I suggest that the word 'sabotage' isn't appropriate here. It implies that your current boss is being underhand or deliberately destructive, when it looks more as if they are just trying to make sure they aren't left without being able to fulfil their own function. It's a small point, but sometimes the word you use can make a difference. Jan 28 '13 at 19:53
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    @DJClayworth - the issue is that, in order for the manager to be able to fulfill their own function, as you said, they are undermining the OP's request for growth, promotion, increased salary, etc. In such a case, I think "sabotaged" is acceptable, though perhaps "undermined" itself is better?
    – Adam V
    Jan 28 '13 at 20:56
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    What is the question here? The only constructive questions I can think of in this would be too localized to be of use. Currently you do not have a question. Jan 28 '13 at 21:16
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    @Chad mhoran_psprep made an edit to this question which I think addresses your concern, so I am going to vote to reopen.
    – Rachel
    Jan 29 '13 at 13:31
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    @Rachel - This question should have been brought to meta before editing... Jan 29 '13 at 14:12

Your situation is not unusual. Many employees feel afraid to apply for a internal position, unless they are about to let go because of the end of a contract, or because of downsizing. They fully expect that the moment they apply for a transfer, their current management is sent a email/phone call/text message labeling them a traitor.

Some companies actually protect their current employees by only letting the current manager know about the application after the offer has been accepted. They do limit your ability to apply for a position when you are new to your current position.

You have now been handed valuable information regarding your future with the company.

If management cared about you they would approach you, your current supervisor and the new supervisor and have you workout a transition plan. The idea will be to get you into the new position in X months. During that time they will hire or designate your replacement. You will document everything you do, and then train them. When the date of transfer arrives you will now be in the new position, with hopefully a new pay rate. During the next few months you will be allowed to charge overtime to the old job, to allow you to guide them though a key event or two.

If they just squash the transfer, they have told you (assuming that you are qualified for the new job), that they are willing to risk losing you from the entire company in the future to prevent a loss of capability today. Use this time to prepare to switch companies. Don't hesitate to apply to other companies, because the current one is not yet ready to let you grow.

If they don't give you the new job at your annual review make it clear that you are expecting a big raise/promotion. Explain that by blocking the transfer the company said you are extremely valuable. If they don't compensate you, take a job with another company.

  • +1 for the last point about bartering for a raise in the annual review.
    – Grahame A
    Jan 30 '13 at 20:09

Internal transfers tend to require consent from your current management. Yeah, that doesn't seem fair as you could quit entirely without anyone's consent, but that's how it works and the company naturally wants to protect itself from slipped deadlines etc due to people moving around. So you should focus on making sure you'll get that consent.

Did you talk with the objecting manager before applying for the position? If not, you should schedule that meeting now; don't wait for HR to ask him to comment on your application. Explain your reasons for wanting to move and that of course you don't want to leave your current team in a lurch, so let's talk about a transition plan should I get the position. It's possible, depending on timing and your team's needs, that you won't be able to take this position, but if not you're laying the groundwork for the next one. And anyway, you should be discussing your career objectives with your manager on a regular basis anyway, at minimum as part of the annual performance review/goal-setting discussion, and he should be working with his management to help you achieve your goals. Many managers will expect you to drive that conversation; as one example, the manager training I received at a large US company made that explicit (I should let them initiate and intervene only if I see problems).

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    I was going to add an answer but then I realized I was going to say this exact same thing, so, well, here's an upvote!
    – enderland
    Jan 28 '13 at 18:23
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    +1 One thing I'd like to add: add the end of your conversation with your current manager, they should understand that if you can not meet your career objectives in this company, you will eventually leave to meet them somewhere else. By no account should you threaten to go though, it should be very subtle.
    – MrFox
    Jan 28 '13 at 19:36

Thanks for the update- that helped clarify a response.

So - your direct manager is on your side and advocating for you, but the higher management is restricting it. I see two strategies:

1 - Talk up the chain

Can be a little pushy, but if you have serious concerns about the situation and are likely to leave if you can't get a transfer...

Talk to your direct manager and get him on board with talking up the chain. Tell him you know you are important the current work, and certainly you don't want to leave the company in the lurch, but if you don't get a chance at the new role, then you are likely to look for opportunities in another company. Ask him for a good approach and his support in talking to senior management. Work out a plan together so he's OK with you going over his head.

He may offer to advocate for you, instead (I would), and that's fine if you trust that he's a straight shooter working honestly on your behalf. If not... well... it's time to leave, regardless. Working for a manager you don't trust is never a good answer.

2 - Make contact with the other side

This kind of cross department sneaking around is only workable in a rare case. If you fail, you do risk being seen as insubordinate by a territorial manager...

Go to the managers doing the hiring and voice your concern that you are too important to move from your current job. Talk to them about wanting to make sure your current team is covered, but that you strongly prefer this alternate position. This is difficult territory because you really can't come out and say "my senior management is playing games and I know it", but you can angle a bit with body language to emphasize how much you appreciate being given an opportunity.

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