How to address surprise org change while discussing role transition
November 19, 2015 7:58 PM   Subscribe

After several months of working with my manager to get more visibility from upper management on my performance and frequently discussing an official role/title change, I was given news this week that an org change will place me under a new manager, while also taking over many of my previous manager's responsibilities. No formal title change to title or compensation has been discussed. I am meeting tomorrow with my Director (manager's manager) to talk through any questions or concerns I have. I have many, but would like advice on the most professional way to address them.

I work for a large technology company where org changes are not uncommon, but this is the first in my year and a half-ish with the company, so I'm not entirely sure how typical any of this is.

About six months ago, my manager started talking with me about clarifying my job objectives. When I told him one of my desires was to be more involved with program management and strategy rather than solely being a contributor, he was very positive and supported me in a few initiatives that helped me work with a broader group in the company.

However. He was also (and always had been) VERY micro-manage-y in his style, offering suggestions on how I could work independently and drive projects, but then sitting in on every. single. meeting. and chiming in/interrupting when I was speaking, which to me felt like he was undermining the very authority he claimed to support my developing. In general, we always had very different working styles - he would constantly IM or email me throughout the day, asking me to jump on a call and with no context want me to begin working on a PowerPoint, a budget, or some other project. He wanted to collaborate on documents in real-time, which for me was not productive. I found him abrasive and in general really rough to deal with; however, I always had in mind that a change within the company (either by my own doing or by an org change) was possible and I kept my eye on the prize for that reason.

I have been recognized by colleagues (including upper management) for my attention to detail, clear communication, and project management skills (as well as the knowledge specific to the job I was hired for). But, after a year and a half, I also think I am a bit hobbled by the way my manager took over so many calls and meetings I was part of - we are a global company, so a lot of conversations take place via conference calls, and he who speaks loudest is heard the most. My voice felt muted a lot by his.

In the last few weeks, we had more discussions around a title change and official shift in my responsibilities. This made sense to me as we are getting to the end of our fiscal year and planning for next year is in high gear. Basically, we had a conversation on Wednesday where he said he'd get back to me on Thursday about the title and then on Friday he announced the org change.

He is moving to a different but still related role; my only other direct (parallel) colleague and I are moving underneath a new manager, but the expectation is that I will take over most of my previous manager's, um, managerial duties. I will be the primary owner of tasks that I had previously work in tandem or contributed to.

I am meeting with my Director tomorrow - I don't want to say anything super critical of my previous manager, but I don't want to let myself get rolled over during this transition, either. How can I best address my concerns about being given a glut of new responsibilities while the issue of my title and compensation hasn't been addressed at all?

The change has already been formally announced, which to me signals no title change is to be expected.
posted by DuckGirl to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would leave your concerns about your old manager's style completely out of it. The objective was "to get more visibility from upper management" and that has been achieved with you taking over most of his duties. Woot.

In your meeting you should focus solely on the solveable problem and be very upfront about it: "I am very pleased with the recognition and the opportunity to take ownership of many of the projects I've contributed to. My only concern is that neither title nor compensation that reflect this change have been put on the table for discussion. What is the plan for that?"

And then resist the urge to say anything more.

In future, if your old manager who was a dick is still a dick in ways that actually impact you, you'll be able to address them, but now is not that time.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:47 PM on November 19, 2015 [8 favorites]

In what way is what they're offering you different than your negotiated understanding with your ex-manager? If seems like changing managers could be a huge quality of life improvement, plus an expansion of your professional scope in a way that is good for your career. If you're being expected to take on personnel management responsibilities related to the other person on your manager's former team, you should get that relationship clarified ASAP. DarlingBri's blurb is A+ and exactly what you should say. Make sure you leave the room with a clear sense of your mission and scope of work and that you feel good about your compensation + title relative to others in the org with similar scope. You'll also need to be communicating your understanding of the role to your new manager, who (imo) could really be handling this entire transition.

Your former manager's performance is not relevant to that conversation. The ways he was misbehaving were public enough that it would take the org being negligent to not deal with it in some way. This is one of the more extreme solutions, but maybe there are other issues you're not seeing, too. Over the next year I'm sure you'll piece the situation together through after-work gossip and get a clearer sense of why this went down.
posted by heresiarch at 9:08 PM on November 19, 2015

You absofuckinglutely need a raise and a title change to acknowledge the change in acknowledged responsibilities. Do not bring up your former manager's mansplaining micromanagement.

Do you have any male coworkers or colleagues who you trust enough personally to ask what THEIR expectations would be in this situation? Because look, I'm stridently fucking feminist and kinda great at giving advice to younger women in my field, but STILL manage to be surprised by the casual entitlement assumed by men of a similar age and station to me. I'm not saying that you should ask your male coworkers what to doooooo, or that they know better than you. I'm just saying that if you've got a trusted friend in the field who's male, it's a GREAT reality check against worrying about sounding outrageous or ridiculous or presumptuous.
posted by desuetude at 12:02 AM on November 20, 2015

Definitely reiterate enthusiasm for your new responsibilities and state how you really are looking forward to working on them. Don't criticise your former manager or bring up any discussion of your working relationship with them.

Do put the question of title and/or raise on the table, and keep asking open ended questions or looking for compromise. If the director counters with "we can't give you a new title because of X" then find a way to ask around it -- respond with something like "well how could we work to make X not an issue?"

Another tactic that works well in negotiations is to pretned you're advocating not for yourself, but for a more general group. You have to do this with a light touch, but it can work. For instance, someone I know always says he's reluctant to even raise this topic because he doesn't want to break any goodwill between him and his boss, but you know, he has to think of providing for his family. You might also try talking about internal equity and what would be appropriate for anybody in this position, not just yourself.

Last, if nothing's going well - you should close with the question "when can we talk about this again?" so you don't let the director shut the door entirely.
posted by hyperion at 6:14 AM on November 20, 2015

« Older How can I hire people in Europe to do software...   |   How can I download multiple PDFs from an EBSCO... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.