Excited to work with you, total stranger!
June 22, 2022 4:27 AM   Subscribe

I have been assigned to a new job by my large, impersonal bureaucracy. Just received a ‘looking forward to discussing things’ email from new manager. Help me respond appropriately!

Longer story: movement happens each year due to staffing needs. If someone is moving, this is determined 100% by seniority. In other words, the lowest synchrony number moves, and neither the boss nor the employees have any discretion about it. I had a great relationship with my boss this year, but my seniority was the lowest and I am moving to a different site next year. This was assigned to me by the central HR, and neither I nor the receiving manager had any say in who would receive that position.

So, yesterday, we were notified. I was told where I would be going, and I am fine with that, and I am excited about the new position. He was told that he would be receiving me, and he knows nothing about that other than HR has placed me in this position and I am qualified for the job. I just received an email from him saying hello, and looking forward to having a zoom meeting or a drop in visit to discuss things in person and get to know each other better. I need to reply to this email. What I want to convey is:

1) I am a good employee and I will be an asset to his team. I’m sure I’m overthinking this and he is aware of how the placement process works and that having a low seniority number is nobody’s fault and does not reflect on me. But I’m just wondering how he is feeling about having this random employee just placed underneath him who he knows nothing about, and I would like to reassure him that I will be a real asset to his team.

2) I am excited to work with him and I’m hoping to stay there long term. This is my fifth year with the large bureaucracy, and every year I have been at a different site. It would be nice to have a homebase for a while, and if his site is the place where that is going to happen, I would welcome that and I’m happy to be a part of the team.

3) I don’t know what else? If you have worked for these types of organizations before, can you just reassure me that he is not dreading this whole thing and wondering who on earth they assigned to him? I really enjoyed my job this year, and although I had some initial trepidations due to a past experience with my current boss, we had a great year together and I would have been happy to stay there. The only reason I am moving is because I had the lowest seniority number and it’s not a reflection on my work.
posted by ficbot to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I’m the manager in a similar situation. I’ve had two new team members assigned to me in the past few months that I had no say over, and sent a similar welcome email. I sent it mostly to put *their* mind at ease - I know they don’t know me either, and are probably concerned about walking into a situation they’ve been assigned to. I don’t really have any expectations for a response to that initial email - I usually get back a “thanks, looking forward to it”. When we do meet, after we get through any initial formalities, that’s when I want to hear about their goals, plans, etc.
posted by okayokayigive at 4:33 AM on June 22 [14 favorites]

We have a "managed move" system a bit like this. I think you're worrying a bit too much. If they've been around a while, they will have experienced it before and know what to expect.

As a manager I'm generally feeling curious and optimistic about new people joining my team and my anxieties are mostly about ensuring they are welcomed into the team and that I can help them be the best they can be.

My reply to their email would be just to thank them for the email and say you're looking forward to meeting them and working in the new team. If you felt like it, you could also include a brief account of what you've been doing in your current role, but I wouldn't particularly expect it.
posted by knapah at 4:34 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]

I get the overthinking, I'm right there with you. But all that is required is a matched response that confirms the meeting and that you're looking forward to it. Make your email as short as possible.

You don't know what to say because you're currently trying to cram all of this into your response:
- Proving your value to the team
- Assuaging any worries they may or may not have about your value
- Your enthusiasm about the role
- Your long-term aspirations for sticking around
- Anxiety-soothing about this transition

That is a lot and it's all important stuff! None of it belongs in an email response to a meeting request.

Discuss it in real time, when the responses will be MUCH more satisfying and anxiety-reducing for you.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:45 AM on June 22 [9 favorites]

Everything you want to say should be said 1:1 on the call. Your email should say, approximately, "thanks for setting it up, excited to work with you, see you at 10!"
posted by phunniemee at 4:54 AM on June 22 [10 favorites]

You’re definitely overthinking this. The email is just one or two sentences of “Good to hear from you, I’m pleased to be working with you, look forward to meeting soon. Do let me know if there’s anything particular you’d like me to have prepped for our meeting.”

Everything else comes when you meet.
posted by penguin pie at 5:05 AM on June 22 [9 favorites]

He knows how the system works and knows this situation doesn't reflect at all on you or the quality of your work. He may not be the biggest fan of training up a new person every year or two but again, he knows that's just part of the job and I doubt he's dreading it. The right response to this is just a quick "Thanks, I'm looking forward to getting to know the team and getting started" message.
posted by Stacey at 5:34 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]

I'd be the one sending an email like that welcoming you.

I'd expect to get one back saying that you're looking forward to the new role and to meeting the me and the wider team. Would x work for a meeting..if you're willing and able, make it an in person meeting.

And then when you meet the manager, be prepared to:
- give them some highlights about your background and
- relevant experiences and areas of interest
- ask about how the team fits in the organisation
- ask about your actual role
- ask about their expectations

If that doesn't come up organically:
- confirm how remote or otherwise people are and about meeting the rest of the team
- who/how you'll get trained/is there a buddy/or who should you go to with your mundane questions and your not mundane questions

Confirm how often manager wants to check in with you or know how often you'd like to check in with them while you find your feet and ask for that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:46 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]

You've got some great advice above about not overthinking and replying to the email. I want to focus on one thing:

1) I am a good employee and I will be an asset to his team

This is the baseline assumption that most managers have - we assume that people will generally do a good job given the opportunity. So hearing someone say this comes across as weird and even defensive. It's a bit like if you were having a conversation with someone and then out of nowhere they said "by the way, I want you to know that I absolutely don't have a secret stash of chocolate under my bed" -- I'd immediately assume they actually do!

You don't need to say that you're a "good employee", and saying that might even backfire: your manager might wonder why you'd say that, if you're trying to get ahead of rumors about your performance or something. I'd really suggest not bringing up performance this early. Show your new manager that you're good at your job by ... being good at your job!
posted by dorothy hawk at 7:01 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]

Everything you want to say should be said 1:1 on the call. Your email should say, approximately, "thanks for setting it up, excited to work with you, see you at 10!"

Yeah, this is exactly what I was going to say - you don't need to say any more than that. At the meeting, be enthusiastic and positive, practice active listening, and the conversation will go where it may.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 7:59 AM on June 22

I would just mirror everything: tone, content, and length, same as I used to do facebook birthday greetings.

"Happy Birthday!"
"Thank You!"

"happy birthday"
"thank you"



So if the boss said something quick and upbeat expressing mild enthusiasm like

"hello, and looking forward to having a zoom meeting or a drop in visit to discuss things in person and get to know each other better"

I'd say something quick and upbeat expressing mild enthusiasm like

"good morning, pleased to get a chance to zoom or drop by your office to learn more details and get acquainted"
posted by Don Pepino at 9:22 AM on June 22

The response that you're conveying sounds more like someone applying for a job, not someone who already has the job. I don't think you should be trying to convey "I am a good employee" in either an email nor a meeting - the meeting is to discuss what you'll be doing and what you can bring. Whether you're a good employee or not is something that the manager is going to evaluate. If you start talking about your low seniority number or how the system works, that's honestly in the past and there's nothing the manager would really do about it. Other than wonder why you brought it up.
posted by meowzilla at 5:58 PM on June 22

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