Should I quit before my company relocates me?
September 11, 2012 5:05 AM   Subscribe

I recently started a new job that is a big career opportunity and looked great on paper, but six weeks in and it has been a total disaster -- I have a terrible boss, don't like the corporate culture, and am unhappy about the hours I've been working. In four weeks I am due to be relocating overseas for the new job. Should I cut my losses and quit before the move?

The job: This is a position that would look great on my resume and undoubtedly open new avenues if I was to stick it out for a couple of years. However, I have a boss who is extremely smart but an obsessive micromanager who is making it extremely difficult for me to do what I was hired to do. In short, he has been very critical of all the work I have done so far (some justified, but mostly not), frequently changes his mind about things we have already agreed upon, causing me to waste hours upon hours redoing things, etc. I also have concerns about the culture and work/life balance. I am essentially on call 7/24 and have ended up working often on weekends, for reasons that don't always seem justified.

All of this has me feeling completely miserable. I have suffered from depression and anxiety in the past, and these issues have come back with a vengeance since I started the new position. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take a break between jobs, and am feeling totally burnt out already. I understand that part of this may be the adjustment to a more demanding position with more responsibilty, but am wondering if it's all worth it, considering the toll on my mental and physical health.

In four weeks I am due to relocate overseas to the office where my boss is. My contract has a clause that will require me to repay my relocation expenses if I leave within a year. I will also be dependent on employment by my current company for my legal immigration status in that country. All of which means that it won't be easy for me to quit if things don't work out.

I am excited about the move, but no longer about the job. Without the relocation aspect I'd probably be willing to stick this out for a few months, but given the bad feeling I have about the job, I'm considering quitting now before the relocation, and taking a few months off to recharge my batteries. I have no debt and enough savings to take even 12 months off without any worries, so money is not really an issue.

The job market is not great, however, and I'm worried if such a "good opportunity" will come up again. Any thoughts on the wisdom of sticking it out when it seems like your decision to change jobs was a disaster? Or the pros/cons of taking a career break in ones mid to late 30s?
posted by kramer1975 to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would trust your gut feelings, which are telling you that quitting is the right choice and taking a planned extended leave during a recession is a bad choice. Why not quit this job, and then take your time looking for the right one but start looking right away?

I don't think that moving closer to a micro-manager is going to decrease the micro-management. That actually sounds like a miserable situation, especially with the other things you mention that make it difficult to quit after you relocate.
posted by Houstonian at 5:12 AM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Well, quitting shouldn't be your first choice. How about you sit down with your micromanaging boss and air your concerns in a detailed fashion. Be super critical. Lay it all on the line. Then, based on what your boss says, make a final decision.

It's okay to not want to relocate overseas to work with a boss who you can't work with. But if you're going to quit anyway, you've nothing to lose by putting it all out there in a respectful bitch session.
posted by inturnaround at 5:15 AM on September 11, 2012 [10 favorites]

Being stuck overseas in a job you hate is not a good opportunity ... That said, is there any way you can limit relocation expenses? Maybe just have them pay for the plane ticket and not ship a ton of stuff? That way, you could try it out with less risk.
posted by yarly at 5:15 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If its the disaster you say it is they'll be as eager as you will be for you to leave without them having to fire you. Its pretty unlikely they'll force you to repay the relocation unless you leave for a competitor. Just go and if they fire you they fire you. Don't quit. That will look terrible on your resume, and since I'm guessing this is a career change based on your last question, making it virtually impossible to get a gig in that industry somewhere else after you've flamed out here so quickly.

I am essentially on call 7/24 and have ended up working often on weekends, for reasons that don't always seem justified.

I don't know what you do at a big bank based on your last question, but this is pretty much par for the course.
posted by JPD at 5:27 AM on September 11, 2012

A few comments:

- I think you need to really think through very deeply what this statement means:

"A big career opportunity and looked great on paper"

What are your ultimate goals, what motivates you, what makes you happy, what's important to you. And, is having an overseas posting good for you personally or good for you career-wise.

- Is this a case of "trust your gut feeling" or "don't jump to conclusions"? Probably hard to know, so I think the other respondent is right that you should just lay it all out there and see how the boss responds. Seems you have absolutely nothing to lose, and in fact you win no matter how he responds because if he confirms this won't be a good situation for you, you benefit from knowing that now, and if on the other hand he changes his tune or you reach a new understanding about him, you benefit from that too.

The worst thing you can do is have all that stress, resentment, and uncertainty festering inside you. Definitely don't stay on that course.
posted by Dansaman at 5:36 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would speak to your manager and HIS manager, for sure. Express your concerns, come prepared with concrete examples.

Frame it like this:

"I would like a meeting with you because I have serious reservantions about continuing in the position and before we all commit to my relocating, I'd like to discuss my concerns."

Your immediate boss may be a thorn in your 2nd level manager's side (Oh God, do I know how that goes) and may be able to change up your reporting structure.

Also, I think that you need to lay down the ground work for what you want in this position. What are your expectations.

If the meeting goes well, then move forward with your plans. If it doesn't, you can all agree that the fit just isn't right and you can resign or have them release you. (I'd go for release, that way you get unemployment.)

When I left the corporate world to teach, it was a HUGE mistake and I had to live with it for two years. My blood pressue went up, I was miserable and I ended up selling my house and moving to Nashville just to get the hell out of the situation.

Now, there is a period in jobs that's sort of the opposite of a honeymoon. You don't know the systems, you don't know the players and you feel like an idiot and a failure on a daily basis. You might just be in that period.

For this reason, I'd have a conversation. I too have a micromanaging boss and I've discovered that I can tease her about it. "Right, and should I use a black ink pen or blue ink to sign the document?"

I have also said straight out, "You do realize that I'm being a very good sport by working on this on my Saturday morning, right?"

Sometimes just acknowledging the transgression is helpful.

So, before you do anything drastic, have a meeting and discuss the ways in which you are disappointed in the job. They may be mortified and will work with you to make you happy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:10 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've worked for micromanagers both in person and in a telecommuting situation. It was actually much easier working together in person, because there was more casual contact that allayed her fears somewhat about my being incompetent or untrustworthy or whatever else her anxiety was telling her to worry about. I wouldn't necessarily assume that that part of the job will get worse.

What would your support system, formal and informal, look like in the new country if you did have a relapse of your depression? Maybe think about what the medical system is like, whether therapy is available, and how reachable any personal support people (friends, family) would be. Given what you've said about your current mental health, I'd be most concerned about what happens if you move and it continues to get worse.
posted by jaguar at 6:15 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Its pretty unlikely they'll force you to repay the relocation unless you leave for a competitor

Do NOT assume this to be true. Many (most?) employers do in fact mean what they say in their relocation contracts. It is laughably easy for companies to give people who want to quit a really tough time, particularly when the company has an established presence in the foreign country that the ex-employee has little experience of.

I would agree with the people suggesting you have a conversation with HR and someone in management about your concerns before you leave. Then make a decision one way or the other before heading overseas. Trust me when I say that you don't want to be stuck in an overseas job that you hate, but can't afford to quit.
posted by bardophile at 6:16 AM on September 11, 2012

Along the lines of what Jaguar said- it can be a very different thing working for someone in person and not in person. Does this person have serious personality flaws- like abuses you verbally? There's a good chance that once you're in the same place, problems you had before melt away and you get along fantastically.

also if this is in a completely different time zone, that might account for why your hours are unreasonable, that might also get better.

the flags you raise are very legitimate however, and those are real risks. I encourage you to do what others have suggested and discuss this with mgmt before making a more drastic decision.
posted by saraindc at 6:29 AM on September 11, 2012

Many companies consider the first 90 days to be a probation period. If the fit isn't there within the first four weeks, it's most likely not going to be there going forward, unless you take action to make it so.

If you're planning on leaving anyway, take the time to see what you can do to improve your situation before doing so. The worst that can happen is that you're let go, which would be a bad thing, for sure, but not the worst if you're actively thinking about cutting the line anyway.

Look for something better, try to improve things on your end, and if it doesn't work out by the time you're supposed to relocate, then you've done your best and separate from the organization.
posted by xingcat at 6:38 AM on September 11, 2012

Do NOT assume this to be true.

The Math is pretty straight forward. Figure the are paying OP $150k base and their relocation costs are ~$25k. Two months severance is also about ~25k. Given the choice between having him resign and writing off sunk cost of the relocation and firing him because he isn't a fit and giving him severance - its a pretty easy decision for them.

Like I said, that term exists only to prevent someone from being recruited away to a competitor - or at least make it marginally more expensive for a competitor to hire them.
posted by JPD at 6:41 AM on September 11, 2012

Like I said, that term exists only to prevent someone from being recruited away to a competitor - or at least make it marginally more expensive for a competitor to hire them.

OP does not mention what part of the world they are relocating to. My experience of the Middle East suggests that the issue is not always as straightforward as logic would dictate. My advice to OP would be to educate themselves carefully about how these things work in the region to which they are supposed to relocate before making a decision.
posted by bardophile at 8:12 AM on September 11, 2012

First, mentally accept that you are going to quit this job before relocating, because it is not good for you.

Then, in your personal time, startnyour job search and start taking steps to continue living where you are or to relocate on your own without the existing company's help.

At the same time, spend a few days figuring out exactly how you'd want your existing job to change to make it our ideal job, and -- since you no longer have anything to lose -- start provoking it into that kind of job (or get fired trying.)

If you succeed in changing the job, great! If you do not, no biggie. Either way you made the best choice, because you didn't settle for something you know is toxic.
posted by davejay at 8:34 AM on September 11, 2012

There are always better opportunites. Do not work for someone that makes your life miserable.
posted by stormpooper at 9:57 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, quitting shouldn't be your first choice. How about you sit down with your micromanaging boss and air your concerns in a detailed fashion. Be super critical. Lay it all on the line. Then, based on what your boss says, make a final decision.

I think this is perfect. Since you are already okay with the idea of cutting ties and quitting, just lay it out there and when you get feedback from the boss, go from there with your gut feeling of how it would turn out if you were to make the move. The feedback and his reaction will be very telling either way, so I think you will have a better idea of where to go from there. Good luck!
posted by fromageball at 5:14 PM on September 11, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all for the great advice. I am going to speak to my manager and lay down my main concerns, while being prepared to quit before my relocation if this doesn't resolve anything. As for a support system, I do know people in the country I'm relocating too and have friends there, so that at least is a comfort. Thanks again.
posted by kramer1975 at 5:05 AM on September 12, 2012

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