Temporary team reassignment at work
April 29, 2018 11:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm being temporarily reassigned to a different team at work and I'm in need of advice.

The situation is complicated, but to sum up:
  • I've been at work about 6 months
  • The product team I'm working on is ~2 years old and needs to transition from a more startup-y approach to a more disciplined "enterprise-grade" one; this is one of my strengths
  • Shortly after I started, my manager became the manager for all the engineers on the team (only the PM does not report to my manager)
  • Several senior team members (including the PM) have established some values in the team which are toxic and the manager wants to change
  • I've had some pretty unpleasant conflicts so far working to shift things to a more disciplined and healthy culture, but my manager has said that I'm being a good actor in a broken system and seems to blame the other team members for these conflicts
  • My manager plans to restructure the team in the near future, but because of business-related deadlines can't do so immediately
  • According to my manager, leadership knows this team has problems and they assigned my manager to try to save it
  • At the time I was hired, I argued for a title one above my current one and my manager and I compromised on moving my annual review up to a 6-month review to reconsider
  • When I recently asked about promotion, my manager described me to another manager as an exemplar of the title I'm looking to be promoted to
So that I'm not left in a toxic situation, my manager plans to move me to a different team temporarily. I've heard good things about the person who runs that team, but the work is not the same as the team I was hired for and I do want to return since I'm really interested in the work.

Questions
  1. Should I quit instead of going along with this?
  2. If anyone has had a similar experience, how did it turn out?
  3. My manager doesn't want to tell the team that I'm being moved for my protection and plans to say I'm going to be temporarily working with another team that is in urgent need of technical leadership. I'm concerned about the optics of this. Will it look like I'm a problem? Is it unrealistic to expect open, truthful communication about this?
  4. I'd like something concrete to show that the company supports me. My first thought is to insist on the promotion. Should I be willing to walk if they won't do that?
posted by Cogito to Work & Money (4 answers total)
 
This doesn't seem like such a bad thing to me, and I feel like I'm missing something. Why do you not want to move, besides a sense of the work not being as interesting? It sounds like the team you're on is not in a healthy place right now, and you are suffering because of it. Your current manager clearly cares about you, and thinks that you're doing good work, but unable to be successful on the team you're currently on. Moving you to another team while they deal with the issues on this team is probably the approach leadership is taking to save you for the company.

To your questions:
1. If I were you, I'd do the move. If you end up not liking the new team, you can look for a new job, and leave, but leaving abruptly when the company seems to care about you and seems to be trying to put you in a good place feels rash.

2. I've moved plenty of people who were for whatever reason unable to be successful on one team, to another that we thought they would be more successful on. It often works out, especially when the team they're moving from is having cultural issues that are contributing to the problem.

3. Telling the team that you're being moved "for your protection" sounds like a bad idea, so yeah, I think your manager is right here. They're going to tell everyone that you're providing technical leadership, that sounds very positive, and much more likely to set you up for success.

4. Insisting on a promotion after 6 months which must've been somewhat rough given that you apparently need to move teams seems like a risky move to me. It sounds like your current manager sees your potential but that you are not actually able to work at the more senior level due to your current team's dysfunction. So, I wouldn't advise insisting on the promotion. This company is showing that it supports you by getting you the hell out of a situation where you are not able to thrive. Assuming your new team is healthy, a promotion in another 6 months seems quite realistic. You can certainly ask, but I wouldn't burn bridges unless you feel like you've proven yourself working at that level consistently for the past 6 months.
posted by ch1x0r at 12:39 PM on April 29, 2018


I would do the move and see if it works out but probably polish the resume and start looking elsewhere if it didn't seem like a place I'd want as a long term position.

My manager plans to restructure the team in the near future, but because of business-related deadlines can't do so immediately

I've heard this stuff time and time again in broken systems and there always ended up being another reason after another reason why the changes never get put in place. I wouldn't hold your breath on the PM getting removed from the position after the deadlines pass.

I'd like something concrete to show that the company supports me. My first thought is to insist on the promotion.

You're at six months, when they'd agreed to review the idea of promoting you. Regardless of the other drama, if you feel you've demonstrably shown that you're working at a higher level than you're being paid and recognized for, you should be ready to walk. Telling another manager that you'd be great at the position doesn't pay your bills, give you job satisfaction, or make your actual job title reflect the level of work you're capable of.
posted by Candleman at 1:27 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


When I recently asked about promotion, my manager described me to another manager as an exemplar of the title I'm looking to be promoted to

I don't quite understand this - you mean you asked about being promoted, and later you heard your manager telling someone else that you'd be a perfect (Level+1) Engineer? What did they actually say to you about the chances of being promoted?

At my company, I think it'd be very unlikely you'd get actually promoted at the six month review, but it could mean that they'd decide at that point whether to put you up for promotion at the next round, which for us is each July/January. Maybe that's how it works at yours as well, or maybe your manager just doesn't have the power to get you promoted, or maybe it'll actually get announced on Monday. Try and get something more specific from them.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:54 PM on April 29, 2018


Response by poster: Thanks for the wonderful responses! To address some of your questions:
Why do you not want to move, besides a sense of the work not being as interesting?
Mainly uncertainty. I do a good bit of research before accepting a position. The work of the team I was hired onto fits well with my background and interests. It could be that I like the work on this other team, so I'll try to be open-minded.
I don't quite understand this - you mean you asked about being promoted, and later you heard your manager telling someone else that you'd be a perfect (Level+1) Engineer? What did they actually say to you about the chances of being promoted?
I was in this conversation, so my manager was saying it to both me and the manager of the team I'd be moving to (temporarily). It's definitely on my list to get some dates by which I can have an answer on the promotion. My manager said they were looking into it, but I haven't heard back yet.
posted by Cogito at 4:42 PM on April 29, 2018


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