A reader writes:
I have been with a company for almost 2 years and am one of the top people in my category. I recently went to my manager to ask about interviewing for other positions in the company that would further my career. He said, “no problem, I won’t hold you back, but the transition time may be long.”
I then talked to the director of the other group, who informed me that she had positions available and I would be a good fit. She came back a week later with a verbal offer, seeking approval from my chain of management. My manager gave an unrealistic date of transfer (3 months) and they could not agree. This process went all the way to the EVP level battling it out to keep me or promote me. It was determined that I was too valuable in my current position and they decided to revisit in the 3rd quarter. My manager showed me the email chain from the EVPs that were fighting over me but eventually the promotion side gave up.
Do I have an course of action with HR regarding this? I feel like I am being unfairly treated and will more than likely leave the company regardless of outcome. The hiring manager said she could not keep the positions open so my chances of promotion later may be unavailable.
So you’re so valuable in your current position that their solution is to do something that’s likely to drive you away from the company completely (and probably without the three-month transition time your manager was requiring here)?
This is dumb. There can be legitimate reasons for not letting people transfer willy-nilly, but this isn’t how you handle it. If they felt strongly that they couldn’t move you out of your current department for three months, someone should have sat you down and talked to you about specific plans for helping you further your career in the company after that. They should have given you a clear path for what opportunities you have to move forward, so that you’re not left feeling as you now do — that if you want to advance, you’ll need to leave the company to do it.
As for what you can do about it now: Ideally, you’d say to someone in your company, “I’m interested in moving into ___, and I’d very much like to do that here rather than somewhere else. However, the way that this played out with the promotion into the X department has me concerned that that will be an obstacle in the future too. I’d really like to talk about what paths might be open to me for advancement here, and what we’ll do in the future if these same issues come up again.”
Now, I don’t know if the person you should have this conversation with is your boss or someone above him or someone who knows what they’re doing in HR. It depends on your relationships with them, how good they might be, and how things work in your company. But that’s the conversation you want to have with someone.
You can read an update to this post here.