It's a no from me, boss
February 22, 2021 8:20 AM   Subscribe

The "promotion" that was looming is now postponed, but I have been pushed into a temporary promotion that is far and away from my role, yet still expected to work my current roles. (3 roles for the price of 1!) I've lost the motivation and hope that I want to pursue my boss's role, and now it's wondering if/how to break it to her.

I really appreciated the answers I received in my frantic post a couple of months ago. After reading through and thinking "Ok, it's a calculated risk, but maybe I can do it." I voiced my concerns to my boss, who then re-iterated the "Fake it til you make it and you'll make it." She said she did believe in me and wanted me to do this.

In the meantime, I made an appointment through my therapist to officially look into anxiety medications (still waiting for that appointment) and also made a future appointment with a career coach, in hopes that I could build up some leadership confidence skills. The coach said she would also help me evaluate if this would be something I actually *wanted* to do.

Fast forward to about a month ago. We have a new urgent project and I was asked if I wanted to lead a part of it. I decided sure, it would at least give me practice for leadership and project management. However, I would be keeping on my roles and also moving into a level above my own. When I asked about compensation, they decided to give me a 3% raise (that will shift back to my old salary once this project is completed), but this wouldn't be in line with the base salary of the level I would be officially at. When I asked my boss if I should/could negotiate, she said no, that I should be grateful and that leadership sees this as a test for me, to see if I'm ready for her position. This didn't leave me feeling great, although I know no one is malicious with it. I think they all have good intent but it didn't feel wonderful.

Currently in this temporary management role, I've discovered that I am not loving it. I cried after a few meetings just due to stress and not being sure I was effective. I know that it'll take practice and I need to get comfortable with the possibility of mistakes, but the stress of it really got to me. I will continue to do my best, but I'm exhausted.

My boss tells me that being in this temp position will not hinder me from taking over her position, but now I have found out that I will have to apply, as they will most likely open up the position to the public because it's a big role. So far, I've not made any indication that I won't apply, but I'm considering that I won't. The bad thing is that my current role (that I've moved away from, yet still working in...) will likely go away when she leaves and will not be backfilled. I will not get a junior person to help with the role mostly due to budget and the role usually worked as one position. Other (same, but in different states) programs have multiple people working on their teams though, but I understand the budget issue.

I think working this role and just thinking more over this past weekend, I have this gut feeling that I am not going to enjoy it. I'm not even enjoying it now. I miss working on the ground, and my life now is meeting after meeting after meeting. Today I have 7 meetings in a row, and it's miserable. I know life will be like this after because the role has always been like this. I thought I would enjoy it, and there are aspects that I do, but man. It's rough. I knew that my long term goal was to move closer to my family and close friends a few states away, but with COVID and this rough year, I'm considering moving that long term goal to be a shorter term goal. I am unhappy right now. I can't tell if I'm unhappy because I'm not a good fit, or because I'm not good at this leadership/management yet and just very uncomfortable (to the point of panic at times), or I just really don't like management. It could be a combo...

I'm at a crossroads whether to tell my boss this now ("I thought I wanted to go for your position, but after consideration, I don't think I want to.") or just not tell her as she's leaving soon anyways. She's gunning for me to leadership, but there is still an application process, so I know I cannot be shoveled in her role immediately. I know she will tell me she is disappointed and wants me to do this, and the people pleasing in me is deep, but I want to consider what I want too. I know deep down that I am still early-is in my career, and not pursing this is not the end of my career (which I was afraid of earlier.) I still have great experience to show on my resume. And although my boss said that she wouldn't have pursued her next job without knowing someone capable could take her role, I don't have as strong of a belief.

Unfortunately, telling her I don't want to go for her position means that I want to leave, as there will be no other role for me at this company (our team is quite niche.) If I tell her I miss working in the community and not sure if I like this level of the field, that basically tells her I'm going to leave.

My friends say I should just not tell her, wait til she leaves, stay in this temporary role as long as possible (about 9 months is the project timeline) and then not apply, and start looking for other work. My boss always asks for honesty and to be completely transparent with her, so I feel a pressure to tell her what I'm thinking. There is some doubt that I am pushing away this opportunity because I'm scared, or imposter syndrome, or I'm afraid of making mistakes (this is all probably true) but in my gut...I am not excited for the role. I'm not even a tiny bit excited. I just feel dread and sadness and I don't want to move up this direction, because I'm afraid it will make it harder to go to a smaller, non-management role. I also don't want to apply, get it, do the position for three months and bail. I feel like that would be leaving on a worse note.

so tl;dr: Do I tell my boss now my further concerns and desire to leave before she officially peaces out, or just hold it to myself, work my job as best as I can, and look for other opportunities secretly?
posted by buttonedup to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a long question. However, there are relatively few relevant details that drive a simple answer.

You aren't paid what you think you should be: When I asked about compensation, they decided to give me a 3% raise (that will shift back to my old salary once this project is completed), but this wouldn't be in line with the base salary of the level I would be officially at.

You hate your job:
Currently in this temporary management role, I've discovered that I am not loving it.
I have this gut feeling that I am not going to enjoy it.
I thought I would enjoy it, and there are aspects that I do, but man. It's rough.
I am not excited for the role. I'm not even a tiny bit excited. I just feel dread and sadness and I don't want to move up this direction

Your company is having budget issues: I will not get a junior person to help with the role mostly due to budget and the role usually worked as one position.

Conclusion: you don't want the job, and your company probably can't afford you even if you do. So, leave the job. Your friends are right. There's no reason to leave a job before you actually leave it - any advance warning you give will incentivize the company to replace you and then fire you rather than wait for you to leave at a time convenient for you. The time to give notice is when you find a new job and your new job starts in two weeks. Period. No manager can demand "complete transparency" in your career intentions just as no manager would offer "complete transparency" if you were to be fired or laid off. Further, as indicated above, you are not being treated, or paid, commensurate with "complete transparency". I give you permission to hate this job, to look for a new job, to take the alternative when you find it, and give notice once you do. However, you need to wait until you find that new job.
posted by saeculorum at 8:43 AM on February 22 [25 favorites]


or just hold it to myself, work my job as best as I can, and look for other opportunities secretly?

This. Saeculorum has it right.
posted by John Borrowman at 8:55 AM on February 22 [5 favorites]


I meant to add this in the question (*facepalm* sorry) but is there any way to save my relationship with my boss if I know I'm not pursuing this? Do I pretend I will apply even though I won't if directly asked?
posted by buttonedup at 9:07 AM on February 22


At best, you prevaricate. “Yes, I am interested in that position and look forward to evaluating it once it is posted with a job description and salary outline.” I agree with everything above. If your job is being totally transparent to you, what have you learned about their valuation of you?
posted by amanda at 9:13 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


I will be blunt.

Your manager doesn't care what you do at the company after she leaves. She's leaving the company - she almost definitely has minimal attachment to the organization now, and she will have zero attachment after she leaves.

Express enough interest so that she doesn't have to start looking for a replacement for you now. After she leaves, your replacement is someone else's problem, and you leaving is not something that should concern her.
posted by saeculorum at 9:38 AM on February 22 [10 favorites]


Your company (or boss, or both) is asking for a lot more loyalty from you than they are giving to you. That is very common but it is not something you have to put up with. Overworking you and underpaying you should only ever be temporary situations when the organization is in a hard place, but it sounds like they are trying to make that situation permanent. Again, don't put up with that.
posted by soelo at 11:15 AM on February 22 [7 favorites]


I answered your previous question and encouraged you to give it a shot. Now seeing how it is playing out, I think you are right to back away. What changes the scenario now is this "test" project, the paltry raise you've been given that they will TAKE BACK (excuse me?) and the competitive nature of the hiring process. It would be one thing to jump through these hoops if you wanted the job, but it's totally different to bend over backwards to get a job you didn't want in the first place, don't enjoy now that you've had more exposure, and won't even get paid all that more for in the end. Let's also note that if it's such a big role and they are willing to go external for it, unless you are being compensated incredibly well already, they will probably have to be more flexible with their budgets for an outside hire than they are being here with you which puts the entire budget element into question for me.

Your friend's are giving you good advice. Start looking at whatever point you want, whether that's now or later, and don't share it with your boss. I expect this is very anxiety inducing to imagine doing because it sounds like she goes digging for info when you two talk and she has a talent for asking you questions from every side to get you to explain yourself more than you want, but all you really need to do is probably say general stuff like "yep, excited to explore it once the application process opens" and then tell her how much you appreciate her support.

I suspect the pressure to pursue this role is more about your bosses feelings than actual investment in the job itself. This may be a guilt-driven reaction from your boss/misguided attempt to help you, so I expect a little flattery/gratefulness may make her back off. Like others have noted, she's leaving, so there's no scenario where she needs you to get this job for her own reasons, and considering they are open to hiring others, it doesn't sound like the company is convinced they necessarily want you to do it. Make her feel like you are grateful for her support and help and she may chill out.
posted by amycup at 1:56 PM on February 22


Look for another job and leave and don’t feel guilty for a second about it. Why? Because you don’t want this job and if the company is interviewing other people while knowing that you’re gunning for it (even if that’s not true anymore) they don’t want you to have the role either.

They’ve dangled it in front of you like a carrot and used it to make you jump through hoops and pay you less. This boss that you think has your back, doesn’t. At the moment she’s putting you forward while making no promises because it makes her look good on the way out but once she’s gone, she won’t give you or the company a second thought and neither should you.

Promises are worth the paper they’re written in and neither of you have made any firm commitment so get out now. Tell no one before you have an actual job though.
posted by Jubey at 7:20 PM on February 22


My friends say I should just not tell her, wait til she leaves, stay in this temporary role as long as possible (about 9 months is the project timeline) and then not apply, and start looking for other work.

Not sure why you need to stay in the temporary role for 9 months before you start looking. Start looking in the place that you want to move now. When you find the right job, take it and give notice. I don't think you are going to enjoy the next 9 months. By starting now, you won't feel rushed. I suppose there is some chance that you might find a job before your manager leaves the company - you can come here and get advice on how to handle that when you actually get offered the new job that you want.

I know it is very hard to find the energy to look for a job while also doing a stressful job so be gentle on yourself. On the hand, knowing that you are taking the first steps towards making your life more the way you want it to be will make things a little easier to bear.
posted by metahawk at 9:05 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


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