As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have been job hunting for the best part of a year and have been in my current role since July 2011. I came in to this role as an external recruit, after a failed attempt to fill the position internally. I recall my now Manager, offering me the position and in the next breath reassuring me about the many development opportunities that this organisation offered. I recall it vividly as I thought it was very strange that he was already mentioning the next possible role before I had even started. At the time I had replied ‘That’s good to know, but let me focus on doing well at this role first.‘
The first denial
Unfortunately, when the time finally came, I found that my Manager was not willing to deliver on his assurances. About a year and a half in to the role, a consultant in the business approached my Manager and asked whether I could go on a 6-month secondment to work with him on a major project. This project was an enterprise-wide initiative that would have afforded me great exposure to decision makers, external regulators and legislation. My Manager turned it down on the spot, citing that I would be more valuable in my current role, and only told me about the conversation afterwards.
In our organisation, Managers have the right to veto their employee’s secondment opportunities however have no choice to release them for permanent promotions. So I thought to myself, perhaps he wasn’t aware that I desire new opportunities and therefore did not think that I would want to be considered. I attempted to rectify this by advising him that I was feeling like I was stagnating in my current role and that I am seeking a new challenge, one that would strengthen my technical, rather than soft skills.
The second denial
Just before Christmas last year, I was approached by the area that was to absorb the business as usual functions of the project that I had initially been invited to work on. They offered me a secondment and proceeded to seek the permission of my Manager. Again, my Manager flatly refused the opportunity, this time citing that he was ‘looking out for me’ because if the area really wanted to hire me they would offer me a permanent position.
By this time, I had spent the year in a role that no longer challenged me and had missed out on two promising opportunities. It really is a catch 22 for employees. Often the best opportunities are within your organisation because you have developed a strong reputation, however you must then navigate HR policies which are designed to protect your employer, whilst also trying not to burn your bridges. I must add that this organisation is very large and it is commonplace to secure secondees and temporary staff from other areas of the business without requiring a vacant position within the team, and therefore my Manager could have considered this. At the same time, I have heard countless stories of other colleagues being denied development opportunities due to their current managers being unwilling to release them.
The only way I was going to be released was if I secured a permanent promotion. Luckily, I had set the wheels in motion regarding my dream role within Enterprise Risk and Compliance, and secured the position after a lengthy recruitment process. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
The delay tactic
The HR policy stated that my new Manager and my current Manager would have to negotiate on my transition arrangements, and in the event that they cannot agree, the matter would be escalated to their Managers. Given that my Manager had been aware of my job seeking situation for the past year and that my contractual notice period was 2 weeks in the event of resignation, I thought the worst case scenario would be a 6 to 8 week notice period.
My Manager met with me today and advised me that I would only spend half a day per week with my new area until he could find a replacement for me to train. Given that recruitment has been known to take up to 3 months in the organisation and that there is a business wide external recruitment freeze, I questioned this agreement. He replied with a spiel about how my staying in the role was ‘in the best interests of the business‘ and that senior management would support him on the decision, even if it meant I had to stay in the role indefinitely. I thought this was a little rich given that my new area is a key assurance function to the Board and are down by 8 FTE’s.
Immediately after this meeting, I met with my new Manager to hear her account of the discussions, as I was sure that she wouldn’t have agreed to such uncertain terms. Luckily, she had quite a different view of their discussions and confirmed that she saw me in the new position by the end of March, and would be escalating in the event that this did not eventuate.
Needless to say, I’m feeling a little stressed, disillusioned and trapped by my current Manager’s tactics. I am certain that the recruitment for my replacement will be a drawn out process. For example, a colleague is about to go on maternity leave in one month. My Manager had 6 months to find a replacement, however had not arranged interviews until this very week and even then was not happy with the candidates. I realise that my current Manager must prioritise the interests of his team but I can’t help but think that there were other ways to go about it, particularly as I had been candid with him at all times.
It’s now the weekend so there is little that I can do to allay my concerns besides listing the steps I propose to take.
- Ask my new Manager to confirm the discussion regarding my transition in writing, for the avoidance of any doubt. In particular, confirm whether there is an absolute drop dead date where I would predominantly focus on my new role.
- Ask my current Manager for his proposed timings in relation to the recruitment of my replacement.
- Seek advice from our division’s HR business partner with regard to my rights, responsibilities and obligations upon signing my new contract.
- Finalise my handover document and begin phasing out non essential activities related to my current role.
- Take an inventory of my current work activities to determine how much time I can informally begin devoting to my new role.
- Approach colleagues whom I believe would be a good fit to replace me, in order to gauge their interest
These situations are often so unique in their particular circumstances. For example, I could have resigned at any time in protest against my Manager’s tactics, however I would have missed out on my great new role entirely. I really feel for those who have been, are or will be in this situation. I think my take out from this is, don’t burn your bridges, however, keep your eyes open to the motives of your Manager, they may not be as supportive as they come across.
I would love to hear from you. Have you ever been in this situation? How did you handle it?
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