I'd love to hear some advice and thoughts on my current situation. After two years with my current company, my boss recently pulled me into his office and requested that I work up a plan based on the following premise; What would you do if we turned you loose? After I had him clarify further, he requested for me to come up with a plan of what I would do if they if I were to write my own plan for my role in the department? Clearly this caught me a bit off guard and led to much though about the situation.

Some Background:
I was hired by this company (a major commodity processor) two years ago in the Marketing Manager position, bringing my vast sales and marketing and business experience. This was a new role intended to lead the effort to expand sales of commodity purchase contracts on the agricultural side, something that the company had been struggling with, as they had in the last few years transitioned by a new CEO to a more aggressive model. This was a role sponsored by the CEO and upper management, to serve under a director who was recently put in place in the role after a couple decades of individual contributor role. He is an academic who really does not understand business or the sales process, and has never managed a team. I saw this as an opportunity to work for a great company and be a key leader. The interesting thing happened that after the first year, we hit our goals, and no longer needed to push for expansion = my key role. Since that time, the Director has used me for busy work and as a traditional Marketing manager, and database computer work (which is not a core competency) a role that is at about half my capacity, especially since Sales and leadership is really my passion. Not at all what I thought was signing up for. I've got plenty(more than enough work) and justification for my job, in a general sense, so I'm not concerned about them ditching the position, but not doing at all what I thought i signed up for.

So here is the rub, I'm working on plan, but given that the company has had a strategic change, the opportunity to leverage my full capacity in the role is limited. I am wavering on proposing that my role take a more management bent, as my boss has really no clue how to run the department, and has had significant turnover as a result. I also am a bit concerned that since he asked me this, that he really has no clue what I'm capable of and even if I present him a plan, it won't do much for me.

I really like the company and prefer not to jump ship yet.

Any thoughts? Anybody been through something similar?

timrutter's picture

You could be in a number of different scenarios here. Three that immediately come to mind are:

  • They want to move you to the door
  • They want to promote you
  • Normal business continuity planning

As one is a problem and another an unquantified risk, be prepared. If he used the phrase "turned loose" rather than "won the lottery" then my radar would be up searching for more information. Just as importantly, produce the plan, do it well and get more information.

At one of my previous companies, this sort of planning was entirely normal. I had to have a plan that should I not turn up ever again, the business would continue.


benman's picture

Thanks for the insight.  I've done a similar analysis, and although never certain, out the door is an unlikely scenario. I've done some further proving and actually talked to the guy who made the suggestion for him to ask me this. Clarified it further, and they acknowledged that the intent is that they know I'm underutilized and legitimately know I have more talents to yield to the role. The person I spoke with, a senior co-worker who has my bosses ear, stated that the reason to have me do this is that the boss really doesn't understand what I'm capable of and isn't creative enough to to figure it out on his own. 

tlhausmann's picture
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This is similar to "briefing your business"...that is covered in a Manager Tools Podcast:

This is also one of the Hall of Fame casts.

] He is an academic who really does not understand business or the sales process, and has never managed a team.

"Briefing your business"...and what you would do about the situation seems what you are after...and there is a cast for that!