Should I take a new role, after committing to staying at my current?
January 28, 2017 8:04 AM   Subscribe

For 1.5 years, I've been in an unpleasant situation with my boss, which has recently been acknowledged by senior leadership, who asked me to be patient and stay for a few months. Out of the blue, a great new opportunity came up, and I have to decide whether to stay or go.

I posted a question here asking for advice with some challenges with my new-at-the-time boss. At the end of the chain a few months later, I posted some additional information. For what it's worth, I took the advice of the thread, deferred to my boss in all things and pretty much don't interact with my old boss much, unless he approaches me directly.

Suffice it to say that my boss's lack of leadership skills has been noticed all the way up the chain to our most senior person in the organization. Senior leadership confided this to me privately, and assured me I was an asset to the organization, with great prospects but they knew they were at risk of losing me. They asked that I be patient while they resolve the situation (the resolution wasn't shared with me). That was about 6 weeks ago, and I said that this recognition was appreciated, and that I could be patient for for another six months.

A week ago, a mentor I interned with two years ago asked for a meeting, and said they'd like me to create my own job description for a role with them. They completely understand my career ambitions, and I'd have the opportunity for very operational, challenging and rewarding work, which will be great experience. This role would me to get valuable on-the-ground experience that aligns well with my career ambitions. They can hire me in 6 weeks.

I do love my current organization very much, but do not know what they have in store for me, and when. We have a lot of work planned, and I have a very valued skillset, and I would feel bad leaving after just two years. On the other hand, my immediate boss is insecure and a terrible leader, and I don't know what their plans are. The kind of work I do here is very different, and not at all operational, but affords me the opportunity to get exposure to numerous senior leaders in my sector, and weigh in on large-scale matters, to a certain extent.

Do you have any advice? I am not a person that would like to break my word, and leaving may risk damaging the relationships here, but maybe they'll understand, as I've been in this situation for 1.5 years, and at the end of the day, nobody is truly indispensable. On the other hand, it would be a great opportunity.
posted by althanis to Work & Money (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You committed not to leave because of your bosss. You're not leaving because of your boss (or at least not exclusively). Don't sacrifice your opportunity for a company's wellbeing; they'd turn around and sacrifice you without a moment's thought. Give appropriate notice and be gracious.
posted by Nyx at 8:06 AM on January 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


Oh my god leave. You have nothing but unsubstantiated promises from them and they would fire you tomorrow if they wanted to without an ounce of guilt or angst about 'breaking their word' to keep you employed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:08 AM on January 28, 2017 [51 favorites]


Go. No question about it.
posted by jferg at 8:10 AM on January 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


When it comes to employment you have to be your own priority, you will be no one else's priority. I say this as an HR person who has worked at the kindest companies for employees.

This doesn't mean that you peaceout and burn bridges but it means that you always make sure that you have your best interests at heart. Remember it is business, not personal. If they found something better they would make the business decision not to stand by that promise, they could very well feel bad about it but they would still do it.

If you leaving a bad situation (that they know is bad) in a kind a respectful way means damaging that relationship with them then that is on them and I'm not sure what you would want to work there anyway.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:23 AM on January 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


Yup, take the job.

What other people said, but also in context it sounds like the agreement was "give us time to sort out your boss situation" not "we don't want to put you on this critical project unless you commit to six months." The second one is something you promised them, and while not legally binding, would be the one to feel guilty about breaking. This is more them trying to do something for you and giving you a timeline in which they could deliver so you had some visibility.

Which is why the advice to explain that you were not looking and are not leaving out of frustration, but because of a great opportunity, is good advice. It's not just that they see you did what you said and that you are trustworthy, but they also understand you trusted them.
posted by mark k at 8:40 AM on January 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Leave. Do not look back, do not feel guilty. They've had 1.5 years to fix this, and then they asked you for another 6 months. Did they offer anything at all as compensation for the fuckery? Did they offer you a raise?

Just leave. You are not in an equal position of power with your employers, and you've already put up with more than you should have to. You do not owe them the sacrifice of what sounds like a dream opportunity, especially not in exchange for vague promises.

Seriously, you have nothing to feel guilty about, and you might want to think about why you do feel guilty.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:52 AM on January 28, 2017 [18 favorites]


Agreeing with everyone above. Take this excellent new opportunity and run with it! Decide how much notice you want to give (you don't need to give them 6 weeks, but might want to give more than the traditional 2), then professionally resign and wrap-up or transition your projects as needed.

The only person who will make your professional growth and development a number one priority is you, no matter how wonderful a company or mentor is, and, so far, based on your related AskMe, they already are not operating with your optimal professional growth in mind, which doesn't mean they are bad people, just that they have other priorities. Also, as noted above, if the roles were reversed, and your company was facing a decision that would greatly benefit them but would be to your detriment, they would choose what would benefit them, even if they felt bad about how it affected you.

As for keeping your word, you made a verbal committment to do your best, be patient for another 6 months (which is a rather long time that no reasonable person in business would hold you to), and did not seek out this position. You've been recruited for what sounds like a dream job. Good for you! As long as you give proper notice, you are neither legally nor morally obligated to stay in this role for any length of time. Move forward with enthusiasm and a clear conscience and congratulations!
posted by katemcd at 8:55 AM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Has anything changed for the better in the last six weeks, or has it all been wait & see? Has upper management actually done anything to rein in or remove your awful boss, have they given you a raise, have they at minimum moved one of you to a different department or work section so that person is no longer your direct supervisor?

If the answer to all of the above is no, there have been no changes yet (just promises), then leave. You aren't in some sort of hostage situation, nor do they own you: also, remember that if it was in their interests they'd walk you out the door today, so why should you owe them more false-loyalty than they would show you?

Leave, and have a great life.
posted by easily confused at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


The seniors recognize you as an asset but need 6 months to fix your boss after being aware of the problem for 1.5 years? Doesn't add up.

Has your boss' leadership and management changed significantly since your private meeting 6 weeks ago? If not, start pursuing other opportunities. Your seniors already know why you would leave.
posted by mountainblue at 9:12 AM on January 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


It took the higher-ups 1.5 years to notice that they have a damaging situation with one of their managers. That response timeframe isn't too impressive. Then, they address it with you and need 6 months to fix this and ask you to hang tight with no mention of what opportunities they see for you? I wouldn't trust them to come up with an acceptable solution for you if this is their track record so far. Their responses are late and their timeframes for implementing mysterious solutions are long. Their choice is to use soft gloves with your inept boss instead of making sure they do everything to retain employees with skill-sets that they need tells you a lot.

Take the new job.
posted by quince at 9:41 AM on January 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


What's best for you? Do that.

You have been patient, and now you are "pursuing an exciting employment opportunity that did not exist at the time they asked you to be patient." It's not about the old job, it's about your new job.
posted by Rob Rockets at 9:59 AM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


From your ask- "They completely understand my career ambitions, and I'd have the opportunity for very operational, challenging and rewarding work, which will be great experience."

You'll be kicking yourself forever if you don't go for the new opportunity. You are not disloyal at all in leaving. Most employers have little loyalty to their employees in today's world, why should you wait around for an imaginary day sometime in the possibly far off future for things to change? Also imagine how you'd feel if something major changed at your present company and sympathetic senior mgmt was gone and jerk boss were promoted. I know that's unlikely but the pit you feel in your stomach at that idea should help you make the jump. Congrats on the new gig!
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 10:11 AM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Go. Not only would they do the same to you, but they admitted they knew you probably should except that you're being patient with them. Know what? If it matters that much to them, I bet you they have the power to make a change to make you happier NOW. So essentially they're telling you where you fall on the priority list: not last, but also not first.

I would actually have that conversation with my immediate boss, but we have that kind of relationship where that's ok. I'd say I agreed not to go looking, but I'd be a fool to pass up a good unsolicited offer. My boss would understand that, and either try to make me change my mind with actual tangible action for me, or genuinely wish me well.
posted by ctmf at 10:47 AM on January 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Senior leadership confided this to me privately, and assured me I was an asset to the organization, with great prospects but they knew they were at risk of losing me.

This sounds like the sort of thing management often tells workers when they're too valuable to actually promote. To borrow from Utah Phillips, "You are about to be told one more time that you are America's most valuable natural resource. Have you seen what they do to valuable natural resources?!"

Actions speak louder than words.

They completely understand my career ambitions, and I'd have the opportunity for very operational, challenging and rewarding work, which will be great experience. This role would me to get valuable on-the-ground experience that aligns well with my career ambitions.

Take this. Opportunities only come along every so often. Your employers may be happy for you, they may be upset. That's on them. You leaving might give them the gumption to actually fix the problem of the bad manager so you might do them a favor in the long run.
posted by Candleman at 12:10 PM on January 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, a bird in the hand in 6 weeks is worth 2 years of vague promises that will never materialize.
posted by tel3path at 3:49 PM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Take the job. It sounds like they had that conversation to let you know they know there's an issue and to try to keep you from going out and pounding the pavement for a new job, and as you agreed, you weren't doing that. I would maybe trust them enough not to take a job that was just meh. But a fabulous new job with someone you've successfully worked with before has dropped in your lap and you should take it. How much will you be kicking yourself if you don't take it and things drag on for 8 months or a year?

You can even be somewhat forthright with the higher-ups, especially the ones you spoke with before: "[As we discussed a couple of months ago] I wasn't actively looking, but an old mentor sought me out for this role. I love Current Organization very much but this was just too interesting to pass up." Give them a month's notice as a goodwill gesture and take 2 weeks off between jobs to decompress.

2 years is plenty long to be at an organization without looking like a job hopper, especially when 1.5 of those years have been with a boss who sucks.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 4:32 PM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


A) Wait for the offer letter before deciding you'll leave.

B) Without a retention bonus of, let's say multiple tens of percent of your salary, there's nothing really keeping you there.

Wait for the offer letter.
posted by rhizome at 5:25 PM on January 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Wait for an offer letter.

Give two weeks' notice, not six.

Do not accept or even entertain a counteroffer.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:50 PM on January 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


TAKE door #2 THE JOB!!

If you really really think the job you have now could be your dream job, then go give two weeks notice. Tell them you'll stay, IF you get it writing what is going to change and the time frame in which these changes will occur. And tell 'em you want a raise, starting immediately. I'll bet you dollars to donuts you get lots of excuses and promises that they WON'T put in writing, and no raise. Just more empty promises about some *golden* day in the future, when all your wishes will come true.

Right now they've got you where they want you, beavering away, with only a few words about pie in the sky happening for you someday.

Just leave. Nobody will miss you in a couple weeks.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:37 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Are you kidding me? This is a great opportunity. You owe your employers nothing beyond the bounds of your contract. Do what is best for yourself. Go.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:03 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Although they admitted that it was a problem, it seems that if they actually felt it was important enough to act on it, it would've happened already. They did not. Instead, it seems they are trying to buy you off with cheap words.

Get the new job offer in writing,
then give your two weeks notice.

Honestly, in the exit interview (if you have one) I would say that you were presented with a great opportunity...
but if asked, I would not lie that the lack of any actual action taken--over a month-and-a-half--led to a lot of worry and questions about any potential future you had at the old job.

These ineffectual hand-sitters need to know that their inactions have consequences, and that they're losing good people (and liable to lose more) because of it.
posted by blueberry at 12:24 AM on January 29, 2017


A week ago, a mentor I interned with two years ago asked for a meeting, and said they'd like me to create my own job description for a role with them. They completely understand my career ambitions, and I'd have the opportunity for very operational, challenging and rewarding work, which will be great experience. This role would me to get valuable on-the-ground experience that aligns well with my career ambitions.

Why wouldn't you take this, even if your current situation were very good?
posted by ziggly at 11:20 AM on January 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


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