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Submitted by dougp on


My boss (a VP) is transitioning a new managing director into the organization. I will now be reporting to the new managing director. This new director will be taking on responsibilities I had planned on performing (more strategic planning, current state of the organization, desired state). The twist is my boss and I were working together on me taking those responsibilities to help grow my career. So, I now feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me.

My boss's intent is to have this person in the role for 6 months before the new director transitions out and I move into that new role. That being said, I have a difficult time believing it. I also believe there are some political nuances to moving this new person in. The SVP requested this person to move into the organization.

I have received glowing reviews for the past two years. I've also helped the team grow from 5 to 19 people this year with a lot of positive feedback on how well it has gone. So, I don't think it's my performance. 

Do you have any suggestions on how to express my disappointment to my boss without coming across as unprofessional or insubordinate? i.e. "Why not have this person do something else and let me take on the responsibilites we had planned?" Do I even do that at all?

Any suggestions on how to move forward?

For my new boss, I am planning on using the "briefing your business" from the mergers and acquisitions cast to set her up well.

For my career, I really like my current boss and enjoy working for her. Unfortunately I've now lost trust in her to help grow my career. I'll let it play out for a bit to see how it goes. I am considering applying for other positions within my company now.

Thank you for any suggestions or advice.

mmann's picture
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 I read that you're feeling a lot of frustration in this situation.  On one hand you're angry that your boss didn't honor her commitment, and on the other hand, you fear she might not be able to deliver that commitment at all.  I've also faced obstacles while chasing my career goals and have experienced similar feelings.

What I've found is, if I can somehow re-frame the actions others have taken in such a way that they don't appear to purposefully obstruct me, I more quickly discard the negativity and with a clear head, can see the path to a productive decision.

My advice is to give this some time, and make the decision when you're able to see the situation with a bit of humor.



dougp's picture
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Thank you for taking the time to respond.

I definitely don't think she's doing this to obstruct me. She says she is doing it to help out other people in the organization, which is understandable. It's really the commitment part that's weighing on my mind.  

I'll keep my eyes open for another point of view on this situation this week.

I had the pleasure of "pancake day!" here at my household, so the humor that came up wasn't work related. "Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other... slide!" Jokes like that always bring things back into perspective.



flexiblefine's picture

Your boss's intent is to have this new person in this new position for six months... and then what? Where does the new person go?

If a senior VP wants to bring this new person in, and they're supposed to spend six months in your part of the company before moving on, does your boss have any sense of where the new person is supposed to end up? I can see the logic of rotating this new person through different parts of the company so they can learn the business or learn how the company works, but that learning would presumably have some object of its own -- and the new managing director would have an eventual final destination.

Brief the new managing director well, impress them like you have impressed your current boss, and the effort may pay off for years to come. Revisit the situation in six months. Perhaps your boss's intentions have been temporarily pushed aside by the SVP's desire to bring this new person into the organization, but you can see how it develops before coming to conclusions.

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Mark's picture
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...but the answer depends upon your relationship with your boss.

What you recommended "Why not have this person..." is a REALLY REALLY bad way to address the situation.  GALACTICALLY BAD.  And, of course it's only me reading, but my sense is that you ARE over-reacting. 

It sounds like your boss really didn't have the authority (though I may have the titles and relative role powers here wrong) to promise you what he did.  Whether he did or didn't, though, it just seems like he got overruled.  SO, losing trust with your boss would have to be based on your belief that he promised you something when in fact he ought to have known he didn't have the influence to make it happen.  In MY mind, that often boils down to HOW the conversation happened.  Far too often situations like this are a case of misunderstanding.

I CAUTION YOU that YOU may be ruining the relationship by assuming a breach of trust when your boss is not feeling there was an explicit promise.

So: if you feel your relationship with your boss is really good, go and ask, "Hey, I need some political guidance about this whole transition.  You and I were planning for me to have some of these responsibilities that the new boss is going to get.  Did I miss something about what the plan was, or how I handled things?"

You don't have to say it EXACTLY like that, but you have to deliver it so that no one would derive from your tone or words that you're expressing sour grapes.  Try to deliver it analytically, as if you were talking about a case study. 

A technique I have learned that helps ME in situations like this is to predict 1-2-3 answers from my boss that I would consider NOT GOOD for me.  (In other words, that this really DOES mean you're not in as good a situation as you thought, or your boss is disappointed with you.)  Then, I SAY THOSE ANSWERS OUT LOUD TO MYSELF, to get used to hearing them.  I say them over and over and over out loud and in my head, to make them be NOT NEW when he says them, and make them feel routine to me.  I work on my poker face...and I prepare an answer.

If you can't handle a bad answer without worrying about your ability to handle things gracefully, you haven't practiced enough.

And I'd encourage you to consider letting it go ANYWAY.  I suspect if you can do THAT, the practicing thing will get easy enough you could then pull it off, having lost the edge that might have gotten you in trouble.

Good luck - let us know what you decide and how things go.



DHumble's picture

I really really like the letting it go idea.  It breaks the emotional tie, or at least weakens it, so that you can behave from a non-emotional point of view. 

dougp's picture
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I started with letting it go. Let it sit over the weekend and talked to her last Monday.

flexiblefine - I think you hit the nail on the head with the analysis of the scenario. I believe my boss's intentions have been temporarily pushed aside by this request from the SVP. As far as the 6 months go, the intent is to transition my new boss into another role and move me into the one she'd be vacating.

Mark - You are right. I was overreacting. My boss did mention she was breaking a promise. I think she was unable to keep it due to circumstances beyond her control. After taking the weekend to put myself in her shoes, quite a few of the ideas I was thinking through were headed down the galactically bad path.

As far as talking to my boss, I turned the negative into a positive. Instead of asking "Why not me?", I said I'd like to contribute more to the strategy than originally planned. My boss thanked me for collaborating well and providing my thoughts on the changes.