Same job, different country
March 19, 2011 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Help me plan a talk with my boss about furthering my career, as well as moving on in my life. I've already arranged a chat with my boss this coming week, but I'm not sure how to attack this without potentially ruining my future with the company.

My motivation for this is that I've watched the last three years of employment pass by, and beyond my job, my life has gone nowhere.

Thanks to a motivational speaker we had visit at work, I have crystallised the things that are important to me, and what my goals in life are. The one goal that I cannot stop thinking about is to make a major geographical move. I'm currently still living in the same town I grew up in, and this is, at least in my mind, synonymous with failure. Friends have moved on, and the only thing keeping me here is my job.

I really want to stay with the same company, and feel I could maybe be using the specialist knowledge that I've built up to do something more important. However, I don't believe there's any scope for this in the office I work in, the only position higher than mine in my department is my line manager's, and there's nothing else in the same office I would want to move on to.

The company does however also have offices in several major cities around the world, a few of which I would seriously consider moving to, but I really don't know if there's any kind of opportunity to make a move. I feel like the structure of the company could make this restrictive.

Furthering my career is the least I want to achieve from this, but my heart tells me I need to move to be happy.

How can I convey this without sounding like I'm making a threat to move if this doesn't happen? This may be an option if I get nowhere this way, but I don't want to jeopardise what I have.

If you were my boss and I essentially told you the above, how would you react? Assuming that you would probably have to hire and train at least one new member of staff to replace me (not to sound big headed).
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
First move: look to see if there are positions in your company's branch offices that you are interested in. You say that you don't know if there're any kind of opportunity to make a move, but don't indicate whether you've done any research. With a company that large, they probably have a "careers" page on their website. If they don't, check on Monster or other sites to see if they have information on positions available in your company. As for how you approach your boss, if you know of available positions you could transfer to, I would say how much you enjoy your work and the company, you're applying to these open positions, and that you would really support his/her support and a good word. Make it clear that you're ready to move to a different city, and that is the only thing that would make you want to leave the office, etc. If there aren't any open positions, I'm not sure what to recommend. Is there really no way to do that research?
posted by studioaudience at 10:49 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just want to echo that your conversations with your boss should generally yield work-related goals or action items that they or you can actually do something about while in that job with that organization. What conversations with your boss should ideally not be are therapy sessions where your emotional responses to your overall lot in life are at issue, because your boss probably can't be 100% on your side and separate what they learn from how they treat you in the future.

If I were your boss, you'd be in luck, because I happen to take a positive view of people who pursue their own needs rationally and yet keep me in the loop so that I can help or be prepared. But even I might start thinking of you as mildly frustrated and possibly a short-timer whose specialist knowledge needs to get spread around pretty soon.

I agree with others here that you should be a little further along in your independent research and your self-understanding before you raise any flags on this issue, but one-on-ones with performance and development or maybe a specific goal of learning more about the organization as the primary topics never hurt anyone.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:14 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Doesn't all of this depend on the culture of your office, but especially your direct supervisor's demeanor?

I think you are not yet ready to have this conversation with your boss if can not accurately predict her/his reaction.

Keep your plans to yourself until they are more solid. Most bosses don't do career coaching very well.
posted by jbenben at 11:41 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

The unspoken theme of many comments above is that (as I'm sure you'd agree) your job and life satisfaction is not your boss's responsibility. You need to avoid any sense that you're "dumping" your dissatisfaction on them. It can't be their responsibility. They may not have the institutional power to get you a job in another office. They may not want to. So, in your head, divide up what piece is your responsibility vs. theirs. What could this person do to help you? You can't be like "omg I need to move" (which frankly, is kind of how your post reads). You need to start figuring out a plan to move, and then start thinking about what sort of support for this your boss could provide.

At this first meeting, maybe your boss could help you to learn a bit more about various general career trajectories for people like you, and what it will take for you to make progress along that path. Here are a list of "general advice" questions that could open up that conversation:

- "I have been thinking about where I might be 10 years from now, and how I can develop my professional skills and grow in my career over time. Do you have any advice for me?"
- "I really enjoy working at Company and my job here as a Server Operator. You've surely seen people who started as a Server Operator for Company grow to take on more responsibility. What does that path look like over time?"
- "To grow in this field, what additional skills do you think are important for me to develop?"
- If their answers discuss other offices, you might throw in "I have friends here in Toledo, but I suppose if it made sense to move to Paris for a few years to be better connected with Central Operations, I could do that." Otherwise, they might assume you were only talking about growth opps in Toledo.
- "Thanks. I really appreciate your suggestions. I enjoy our work here, and just wanted to develop a better sense of the directions in which I should be trying to grow. You've suggested I work to improve in three key areas; maybe we could check in again in two months about whether you think there has been improvement."
posted by salvia at 12:46 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Furthering my career is the least I want to achieve from this, but my heart tells me I need to move to be happy.

OK this is the only thing you should be discussing with your boss: furthering your career. Please do not go in to this meeting with the mindset you present in your question. The way you've phrased this and seem to be approaching this is, you've got an armload of personal unhappiness and you want to walk into the boss's office and unload it there and see what s/he can do about it.

Don't do that.

Take the advice that others have already offered. Push the meeting back at least a few weeks. Research like crazy what opportunities exist within the company in various offices. Even if there isn't actually an open job, maybe there's a team or department that you'd fit well with, in a city that appeals to you. Find out everything you can about that and only then, schedule a meeting with your boss.

No matter what you have to present this in a way that highlights how this will benefit the company, not how it will make you feel happier and more fulfilled.

You should also be putting some serious thought and introspection towards what you personally think a move will accomplish for you. You want to move because your friends have and you haven't and to you that means failure? I think you really need to figure out what your personal and professional goals are and make a plan, a step-by-step outline, of where you want to be and how you're going to get there. Because right now you just sound sort of sad and confused and if you don't work on that first, you'll be sad and confused in a new town, possibly without a job.

Start writing down your thoughts, goals, plans. Research. Go back and work on your lists of goals. Modify, think some more. Make a plan. Then, take your plan and go talk to your boss. Be the hammer, not the nail. Good luck.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:17 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

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