when I resigned, my company offered to fire a coworker and promote me

A reader writes:

I’ve been with my current company for 7 years. I am a highly respected and valued employee in this organization. I do my job tremendously well. I am seen as the backbone of this company in many ways.

Six months ago, our Director of Sales & Marketing left to move on to another company. Unbeknownst to me, the president of our company decided to split the job duties of the now vacant position creating a “Sales Director” and a separate “Marketing Director” (instead of keeping the two tied together).

Since my current position is in middle management in the marketing department, had I known he was splitting the two up, I would have expressed interest in this vacant and new “Marketing Director” position–I would have been the most obvious choice for this. The President did not look internally to fill this spot but instead brought in someone he had known through school (way back when) and the last 6 months she has been in this position has been incredibly frustrating — not just for me, but for everyone in the organization. So much so that I decided to seek out other opportunities.

I was offered a position with another company, recently and sent in my resignation. The company, for lack of a better word, FREAKED out. I was immediately called in and was told that the new director wasn’t working out and was being shown the door in the very near future. The offered to can her, and give me the Director of Marketing position (raise, etc.) and they wanted to do this immediately.

My question is: Should I even consider accepting the promotion and stay in this situation? I’m having a hard time swallowing: #1. Why wasn’t I good enough to be given this position 6 months ago? #2. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but getting promoted this way is not honorable in my eyes–do I really need to resign to get a promotion? #3. I don’t want other people getting fired (even if she was on the way out) to promote myself.

I’m just sick about making this decision. It feels unethical to me, but I need to make sure I’m not being overly sensitive about this as well. To me a big promotion should be something to celebrate, but I find myself just feeling sick about it. The company even admitted the made the wrong decision 6 months ago by not offering the position to me.

Why not ask about it? You could say, “To be honest, I was surprised that I wasn’t given the opportunity to at least compete for the job when it was originally created. Can you give me any insight on what the thought process was at the time?”

You can also ask about the situation with the current marketing director, of course. It sounds like they were already preparing to let her go (and that they’re not doing that just because of you). Hell, it’s possible that they were even thinking about you for her replacement, and your resignation just sped up their timeline.

But ultimately, I’d look to how this company has treated you the rest of the time. Yes, perhaps they should have thought of you for the marketing director position originally. But people don’t always get hiring decisions right, or even promotion decisions. How has your experience been there aside from this? Have you received recognition and appreciation for your work? Been given opportunities to grow professionally? Been paid competitively? Been generally treated well? If this is one flubbed situation out of a seven-year history of treating you well — and if you enjoy the work and the culture — it’s not crazy to consider accepting their offer, if you truly want it more than you want the new job you planned to take.

But if you do decide to consider it, you’d want to consider it in the context of my usual advice on counter-offers, which is that you should be pretty cautious about accepting them under the best of circumstances because (1) employers often make them in a moment of panic and then resent you for it later, (2) there’s a reason you were job-searching in the first place, (3) it took you having one foot out the door to get the offer, and (4) you’ll burn the bridge with the other company whose offer you already accepted.

The ones that would worry me most here are #1 and #3 — are they just offering you the job now because they don’t want to lose you but otherwise wouldn’t have, and is the relationship going to be permanently changed because you were about to leave? I don’t have enough information to know that … but talking with them to learn more about where they’re coming from will help you get closer to one.

I’d talk with them and see what you learn. But if the answer to “how has your experience been there aside from this?” is anything less than “really good,” I’d lean strongly toward moving on to that other offer you already accepted.

{ 87 comments… read them below }

  1. Elizabeth West*

    My question is: Should I even consider accepting the promotion and stay in this situation? I’m having a hard time swallowing: #1. Why wasn’t I good enough to be given this position 6 months ago? #2. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but getting promoted this way is not honorable in my eyes–do I really need to resign to get a promotion? #3. I don’t want other people getting fired (even if she was on the way out) to promote myself.

    I think you answered your own question there. And I think the answer is no.

  2. AdAgencyChick*

    Normally my knee-jerk reaction in counter-offer situations is “of course don’t accept it!” but this does sound like it could be one of the rare cases in which it makes sense. You weren’t considered for the position because the top dog had a friend he wanted to hire — so I’m betting no one else was interviewed, it was just a done deal from that point. And yet, even though this person is a friend of the big dog, after 6 months they realize it’s not working out and it sounds like they’re willing to do something about it, if they were already on the way to firing this person. If you really can take what they say at face value, then this process was already underway, and your resignation has merely made them want to do it faster.

    I think this is a “gut feel” one. If the words that are coming out of their mouths are true, then actually I think you have a pretty good reason to stay. (I wouldn’t be as worried that these people would think you had one foot out the door, because there is a clear reason you had one foot out the door and the person who is that reason would be going away.) But of course only you know the tone of voice, how trustworthy these people are in general, how good your experience has been with the person who would be your new boss, etc., etc., etc.

    Good luck OP!

    1. littlemoose*

      +1 on trusting your gut in this situation. I think it’ll tell you a lot, given your history with this company.

    2. Dan*

      I agree totally. This seems to be one of the few exceptions where counter offers make sense.

      Going down AAM’s list:

      1) If they really were going to can this Marketing Director anyway, then this isn’t something they’re going to regret giving the OP. Panic, sure, but the key point is the regret that comes later.

      2) OP indicated s/he was job searching because of the dysfunctional marketing director. Seems to me that if the MD is fired, then the problem has taken care of itself.

      3) If the MD was getting fired anyway, I’m not certain it took the OP to have one foot out of the door to get the offer. One foot out the door just sped up the offer.

      4) Ok, got me there.

      I think AAM’s standard is a bit high in this case (“really good”) — I’d settle for “pretty good”. If this is truly a one-off hiring mistake, and that’s all it is, I’d probably stay if I think the employer is acting in good faith.

      1. Lisa*


        Don’t let this other job go with only a conversation as a promise. Get a job offer with raise NOW in writing, not a raise conversation in 6 months, a raise now, title now, start date now. Get it in writing that your raise will also begin on a specific date. You don’t want a promise that never goes on to be your job or your raise. Promises don’t pay the bills or advance your career or development if its always ‘now isn’t the right time’.

        Oh and ask for a job description and why they felt this person wasn’t succeeding so you know how to succeed in this job.

        1. Dan*

          The sad thing is, that’s not a contract, but I get your point. Getting it in writing will certainly call their bluff and get them to show how serious they are.

        2. Sadsack*

          Good points! You basically need to have an interview to discuss what is gong to be expected of you in the new role, the interview process that you were denied six months ago.
          You need time to decide if the new role is really one you want once you have all the facts and they need to get rid of the predecessor. How long is all this going to take? If things fall through, you’ve let the new opportunity go by as well. I think I would be swayed to just move on if I were in this position. If your employer organization makes business decisions based on doing special favors for friends, how do you know there won’t be other poor decisions made in the future that will make you regret staying?

          1. Julie*

            I agree, especially about paying attention to the fact that they made a business decision based on friendship instead of what’s best for the business and that it might be a mistake that gets repeated. Also, I was thinking about something a commenter said in response to a previous letter about how you can always go back to (or at least interview with) your current company if you want to work for them in the future, but if you burn the bridge with the new company, it’s likely that you’ll never be able to get another offer from them.

        3. Yup*

          Yes, I’d want LOTS of specifics about this transition. When would you start the new role? When does the salary increase kick in? What’s the plan if the termination of the existing Director slows down or otherwise gets off track — does your start date & raise still start on the expected date? What are the expectations for your first 30/60/90/120 days, both in terms of fixing what’s currently wrong and getting things back on track? How will your success in this role be measured going forward?

          I’m leery for all these reasons that Alison and others have voiced. It would be awful if you turned down an external offer and stayed on because you were promised all these positives that don’t materialize.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Yes, exactly, and it would be awful to stay on and be fired in six months when the company decides their angry because they made promises to you they now don’t want to keep in terms of more money, etc. That was what Alison was getting at with the resentment factor and that does need to be considered. I don’t know…I just have a bad feeling about this one. I think I’d go on to the other company and leave this behind. There are just so many things that would concern me here.

  3. Chocolate Teapot*

    What about the new (external) role? Is it a big step up in terms of responsibility? More money? Better working environment? If so, then it will be a promotion, just not at your original company.

    1. Mike B. (@epenthesis)*

      That was my thought too. I’d take the outside job if it were in fact a comparable step up, just to mitigate the risks that would come with staying.

      But I think those are much smaller than they would ordinarily be with a counteroffer situation. They seem to genuinely want you in this higher position and not the other person, so it isn’t just about finishing out your projects and training a replacement on a timeline more favorable to them. If the external position is more of a lateral move, a promotion where you are sounds like the obvious choice.

  4. AndersonDarling*

    My fear is that the company may not have learned their lesson about blindly hiring a friend of a “big boss.” If the initial position was split, I would assume it was done just to accommodate the “big boss’ friend.” That is a lot of work just to appease a big boss.

    What will happen the next time a big boss has a buddy out of work? Will you have someone incompetent working beside you or above you?
    Could you have some reassurances that employees will always be vented through proper hiring policies?
    Organizations crumble quickly once they start handing jobs to friends of friends.

    1. 22dncr*

      Yes, yes, YES to this. Been there, done that and it WILL happen again. Where will you be then? In the line of fire or on the sides? And there’s no way of knowing. Too much uncertainty for me. If you do stay (no, no, no) get EVERYTHING in writing.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Will you have someone incompetent working beside you or above you?

      Even worse, will you have someone incompetent working below you who you are supposed to manage, but who has carte blanche to do whatever they wish because they’re a friend of “big boss?” That’s a nightmare scenario right there – being a manager whose hands are tied because your subordinate has friends in high places who don’t care that they are incompetent. No thank you.

  5. Celeste*

    I’d carry on with the resignation, simply because it feels better to be desired. I wouldn’t want to stay and accept the baggage of the last six months.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I totally agree. Something about this scenario just gives me the “run Forrest run” vibe. There just seems to be too much baggage here to bother with. It’s not just the fact that there was an incompetent marketing director hired, it’s that the president decided to hire someone he’d known rather than open the job to obviously qualified candidates internally (like the OP) or externally (no hiring search conducted). What happens the next time bossy boss decides to employ his friends? It just shows a total lack of judgment on his part and I don’t think I’d want to bother with that scenario in the future. If the OP is the rock star she seems to be from her letter, she should take her show on the road.

  6. K-Anon*

    I’m generally with Allison on the “don’t accept a counter offer” but I also think it’s important that you generally let your boss know if you’re thinking of leaving. I’m getting the vibe that there weren’t any candid conversations about the fact that you wanted that role and were disappointed you didn’t get it. Most of my promotions were handed to me because I made it clear I’m ready for my next career move and am willing to leave to get it. This comes from a place of being valuable of course.

    If you did this, and they made no action to satisfy you until you had a real offer, then that’s lame and I’d hold it against them. If the leaders thought you were content and were surprised by this, then you share some of the responsibility for the situation, and I’d go where the money/better title/career opportunities are in your decision making and not particularly hold it against them.

    Good luck!

    1. Judy*

      Except I’m assuming that the hired-in-above-her marketing director was her boss.

      That doesn’t mean that if she had mentors she shouldn’t be asking for advice in a way that makes that clear. I had a situation with a difficult manager, and I had a director that was a somewhat mentor to me. During one of my regular conversations with him, I mentioned some of the things that were frustrating me. The director told me to be patient, things have a ways of working out. And within a year that frustrating manager was not my manager.

    2. NomadTX*

      I agree. It seems like the OP did not make it clear after the fact that she was disappointed about being looked over and wanted to advance. Given how they freaked out when she told them she was leaving, I do believe they value her and would have considered her concerns if she brought them up earlier. Who knows why they made that oversight, but it doesn’t seem reason enough to pass on an opportunity to get a great promotion at a company with an otherwise good history with the OP. I’m assuming the offered position is not a director position as well.

      1. Rayner*

        Companies that don’t give you the impression of value until you’re asking to leave aren’t the best companies to work for anyway.

        And it doesn’t seem like a reason to pass on an opportunity, that’s true, but is it a good enough reason to back of an already accepted job offer for a different company, when she was leaving anyway? Is it worth going back, rather than moving forward?

        1. Jen RO*

          “Companies that don’t give you the impression of value until you’re asking to leave aren’t the best companies to work for anyway.”


    3. Sunflower*

      It sounds like OP didn’t know the job existed until it was filled but she still never spoke to anyone about being disappointed the position wasn’t offered to her. That to me says she either feels uncomfortable talking about that stuff with her higher-ups(which is a red flag in itself) or she was kind of looking for a reason to leave anyway.

      I’m kind of getting the vibe from this letter that OP feels some guilt about leaving her job. It sounds to me like she had her mind made up but feels guilty now that the company has admitted wrong doing and is trying to keep her. Whatever way it goes, I hope OP doesn’t let the guilt get in the way of choosing the right job for her.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I suppose she could have spoken up about being disappointed the position wasn’t offered to her, but there are things at play here that make me understand why she didn’t. First, what would that have accomplished really? The role was already filled. Second, the president hired a friend to fill the role without even letting anyone know it was an open position. That to me says there are office politics at play here. Had the OP spoken up, the likely response would have been “Well, President McLame wanted to hire Isabelle Incompetent, there was nothing we could do about that…”

        I can see how not speaking up isn’t indicative of a general problem doing so, but rather is situational given that the president hired his friend.

  7. Jen RO*

    Had you already accepted the other company’s offer? That would be another argument against accepting this promotion.

    I wouldn’t take it, for the reasons you mentioned – but you’re the only one who actually knows the company and management!

    1. Mike B. (@epenthesis)*

      An employer would hardly think twice about rescinding an employment offer if circumstances suddenly changed; I don’t see why a candidate should feel a greater obligation. (Assuming only a couple days have passed, of course. If it’s already been a week and your start date is this coming Monday, you’d be kind of an asshole to consider pulling out now.)

      1. Jen RO*

        Yeah, but unfortunately it’s easier for a candidate to get a bad reputation than a company to get one.

  8. Dan Richards*

    With no outline of the other external role it’s hard to advise.

    In basic terms, you go with the better job for your career.

    Working on the assumption that the new external role was not a Director role (rare to hire a non-Director into a Director role), and was a brand of comparable stature – I’d stay where you are and get some time-served as Marketing Director.

      1. Ella*

        Exactly this.
        I remember one good (excellent) advice I got from a very senior colleague of mine: “Think about yourself, not the Company”.
        So, as Dan R. perfectly put it, bestow your career path.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Brand of comparable stature is key here. Some “marketing directors” at small companies are really glorified marketing coordinator positions.

  9. KJR*

    I read your letter through a few times, and feel that at this point there is just too much water under the bridge/baggage to move forward into the role. But, I also agree with some of the other commenters who said to go with your gut on this (but if I’m reading correctly, your gut has already told you what to do.) To me, it sounds like you need a fresh start somewhere else. Just make sure the new job has everything (or most everything) you want and need, and that you aren’t just taking it to get the hell out of your current situation. Good luck…would be interested to hear an update!

    1. Sunflower*

      I have to agree with this. You can probably go back and forth over this decision for a while but I think at the end of the day, at least for me, there is just too much mess at your current job.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      My Gut was saying a big “NO” just reading it.
      * They are willing to fire another employee to make room for you – so much for loyalty!
      * Even if the employee wasn’t performing, they have no business telling you about another employee’s performance – so much for discretion and handling of personal data!

      They’ve shown how they’ll treat others, which is how they will treat you when the time comes.

  10. Tiffany In Houston*

    I cannot think of a compelling reason to stay honestly. I just think counteroffers are always a bad idea to accept. I would move on, hold my head high about the stellar 7 years that you gave them, and be excited about my new role.

    1. Joey*

      It might feel good to do that in the moment, but a tough to get promotion that can speed up your career aspirations would get most people’s attention.

      1. KJR*

        Except that we don’t really know that the new (external) position wouldn’t do just that.

  11. Juli G.*

    I want to weigh in on 1. Six months can be a long time. We have people that are going through experiences right now that will set them up for planned moves in 6 months. 6 months ago, you may have been a good future talent that wasn’t quite ready. Today, you might be a talent worth taking a risk on. I would wager that given the dysfunctional director, you may have had the chance to do things that satisfied unanswered questions about you.

    I don’t think that means you should necessarily take the promotion – it’s just thought around question 1.

    1. Esra*

      Six months can be a long time if you’ve only been there for 6-12 months, but if you’ve already been there for seven years? I’d move on.

      1. Juli G.*

        I’d argue six months is nothing if you’ve only been there a year. This sort of thing is really, really typical in my department in promo to director (and those aren’t short timers) but it’s also not a marketing department AND people usually understand if they’re on a developmental path.

  12. Adam*

    I get the feeling this probably happens a lot more than people might think; one of those facts of business that many aren’t particularly comfortable with. Not saying this sort of thing is “right” to do; I’m just not surprised this is how the company is going about it.

    Honestly, if the other job was well in hand and a good lateral or upward move I’d take it, but only the OP knows what her current employer is really like.

  13. Sunflower*

    It sounds to me that your company created this marketing director position and knew going right into who they would hire. Heck, the pres may have created this position with this guy in mind. People make mistakes hiring all the time so I wouldn’t discount taking the counter offer on the basis of ‘they didn’t consider me months ago’ alone.

    A lot of AAM says you should feel comfortable talking to your boss/company about your career needs and I’m not sensing you feel that here or you would have already said something about being passed over the promotion.

    I can’t tell you which way to go but seriously consider that you’ve been there for 7 years, are seen as a great contributor yet you don’t feel comfortable enough to talk about your career needs. I think that might hold more weight than ‘they passed me over before’.

  14. AMG*

    I am torn on what to say, but I am definitely curious about your decision, the feedback you receive, and the outcome. Please give us an update!

  15. Sydney*

    Did your company KNOW you would have wanted the promotion? Are you sure they knew? I have worked with several people who THINK their upward intentions are known to their bosses, but they aren’t clear at all. If you are sure they knew, then I would say this is definitely a major blunder and you should move on since you feel this sqwicky about it.

    However, if I were in your shoes, I would probably stick around, assuming I were otherwise happy. I do not feel like this is an unethical situation at all. Unfortunate for the current director, yes, and rudely annoying to you, but not unethical.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      It sounds like the president split the role from Director of Sales & Marketing into two roles without anyone knowing, and it sounds like the OP might not have considered herself for the combined role, but felt she was a great fit for the marketing-only role. She never got a chance to tell them how she felt because the newly created role wasn’t advertised internally.

      1. Sydney*

        I realize this position was created for the boss’s friend. What I’m asking the OP to consider is did she make her desires for upward mobility known to the boss? Not specifically that she wanted this made-up position, but a position like it if it were available? Has she let the boss know she wouldn’t want to stay in the same position for the next 2, 5 10 years?

        If the boss definitely knew OP wanted to move up, and passed her up for Friend, that’s quite different than creating a position and hiring Friend, only for it not to work out and then wanting OP.

  16. Jean*

    I am wondering how deep the dysfunction goes in the company where the OP presently works. OP doesn’t feel comfortable discussing his/her career development with higher-ups. No idea about how the higher-ups feel about such conversations with OP, but the on-the-ground record is that nobody consulted with OP before the last transition (when the last Director of Marketing & Sales person resigned and the position was divided between Boss’s Friend and OP). Did the company’s current freakout at OP’s resignation because higher-ups truly value OP or are they just panicking at the thought of having BOTH positions empty at the same time?

    In contrast, OP’s new position–for which he/she has already resigned–developed because OP went out into the world and presented herself as a promising candidate to a company that agreed enough to make her an offer. On the one hand: angst, guilt, and a whole lotta other emotional baggage. On the other hand: sadness at leaving someplace where she was happy for seven years, but otherwise a fresh start in a place where people are clearly happy to have her. I see a clear contrast between negatives (staying) and positives (moving on).

    Yes, there’s a negative motivation to sticking with the original plan–backing out would really peeve and burn bridges with the people who offered her the new job–but I find that less compelling than the argument that New Employer offers so many more positive reasons than Old Employer.

    It’s great that she had seven good years with Old Company, but it’s also beneficial to move on with mild regret at leaving something good for something better. MUCH more beneficial than staying at Old Company and risking the temporary improvement turning into all kinds of dysfunctionality and misery.

  17. Mike C.*

    So if you accept this counter-offer, how do you know you won’t be shown the door the next time the big boss wants to give a job to another friend?

    1. T*

      This is along the lines of what I was thinking. There is a lot of emphasis in the comments about how you have been treated, but how did are they treating the marketing director? Did they give her critical feedback or support her so that she could improve and succeed in the role?

      Also, how does the company president fit into all this? Maybe upper management likes you, but would the president resent you for taking the place of his old school chum?

  18. Jamie*

    I didn’t think there would ever be a scenario in which I’d consider a counter offer …but for this one I’d have to think about it.

    OP doesn’t say what the new position is, but if it’s not at the director level then staying and taking the promotion puts her in position to more easily be up for higher level roles down the road.

    And too many times I’ve known a timeline was in the works and others didn’t…so I can see something like losing a valued employee moving that up. If they had you slotted for this in their minds and were just quiet about it now, and you’re resignation sped things along…yeah, I’d have to consider this one.

    And what kind of money are they talking about? If they literally freaked at the thought of you leaving and are moving someone out faster than planned to accommodate you that’s a lot of interest in you taking the promotion. How much of that interest are they willing to translate into dollars?

    Mercenary as I am – if it was a better position than the one I was leaving for, and if the money was significantly better than the new position…yeah, I’m staying where I already have leverage, power, and reputation. I’ve never been a big fan of having to transition, so that would play a small role in it. But mostly it would be money and leverage.

    1. anon-2*

      That was exactly my thought as well (I kept my posting below short).

      What is encouraging is management admitted they erred — and are correcting the mistake — which is refreshing to read about.

      You don’t see upper tiers of management correcting themselves — often they stick to their guns, and perhaps even watch the ship sink.

      There was a problem. They told the OP “we’re going to fix that”. Looks rather progressive to me, but then again, I’m not in management – to me, taking care of the business is more important than saving face.

  19. Ann Furthermore*

    Before you decide for sure, you need to have that candid conversation with your management that Alison suggested, and then you can decide for sure. I’d even write down all the questions I wanted to ask to be sure everything was covered. And then, I agree with others that say that you should trust your gut. Make your decision with all the information you can gather, and then if you decide to move forward with the new opportunity, you won’t be plagued by doubts later, wondering if you did the right thing.

    This is a tough one though. Yes, the big boss hired a friend, who will now soon be out of a job. But it’s hard to know what that means. Does it mean that the big boss has learned a lesson about hiring friends just because they’re friends, and won’t do that again? Or will another new position be created for another friend down the road who is in need of work?

    Normally I feel that accepting counter-offers is risky, for the reasons Alison stated, but every situation is different. A very good friend of mine at work spent 6 years in the same position, working very hard, and was even nominated for an award by the CEO for work she did on one particular project that had a huge pay-off. She liked the company, and her co-workers, but when she expressed to her manager (an absolutely horrible director that no one could stand) that she wanted to move into a management role, she was told, “Sorry, the group has too many managers already,” and was basically told that she was stuck in her current position with no chance of advancement. So she started looking, got a great offer for a senior manager position at another company, for about 30% more than she was making, and resigned. Everyone flipped out and she got a counter offer that would have given her a promotion and matched the offered salary. She turned it down, and when the VP expressed his surprise, she said, “Well, 2 months ago, Bad Director told me that I had gone as far as I could go here. What else was I supposed to do? And why was my advancement out of the question 2 months ago, but now everyone is moving heaven and earth to get me to stay? Why did it take me resigning for you all to suddenly figure out what I’m worth?” She was respectful but also very open with the VP, and he of course didn’t have any answers. She ended up taking the new job.

    Fast forward 6 months, and Bad Director did everyone a favor and resigned. My friend was kicking herself because had she known that she only would have needed to hang on for 6 more months, she would have stayed. But her new job is giving her great experience and an impressive title to put on her resume. And New Director is someone that I really like and get along with well, but I’ve heard that none of the people in his group like him much. So who knows what might have happened?

    Whatever decision you make, feel good about it and move forward with no regrets. Easier said than done, I know.

    1. Lia*

      The thing is, if she had stayed, there is NO guarantee Bad Director would have left.

      I left a position rather than work with incompetent management, and 6 months after I left, the VP finally intervened. However, it took me leaving (and being brutally honest in my exit interview) to get that ball rolling. While I was still there, VP didn’t want to hear any criticism of Bad Boss.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yeah, that’s about how it was for my friend too. And even though Bad Director left, New Director is not winning any popularity contests with his staff, so she might have ended up trading one set of problems for another, without anything being resolved. Like I said, I like the guy, but I did learn a few years ago that working with someone as a peer, and working with them as part of your management chain can be completely different experiences.

    2. KJR*

      The Ann Furthermore outlined brought out another good point to consider, and that is that no situation is going to be perfect. There will be pros and cons no matter what you do, or which path you choose to follow here. This will be about making the best decision for YOU, based on the information you currently have.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My thought was your friend’s resignation set the ball in motion that caused Bad Boss to leave. Had your friend not resigned perhaps he would still be at the company, too. I bet management took a closer look at Bad Boss after your friend left. Maybe someone else came forward with complaints.

  20. zillinith*

    Some perspective from the employer side of things, because right now I’m in a very similar situation but on the employer side of it.

    When an org is thinking about firing someone in a director-level position, they’re probably already thinking about their replacement strategy (more so than with a more junior position). So there could have been a period of time leading up to you giving your notice where there have been internal conversations along the lines of “We made a huge mistake here, this person just isn’t working out, if we cut ties with them, we could offer the position to [you].” So your employer very abruptly offering to terminate this person and promote you might not be quite as abrupt as it seems. They may just be freaking out because they feel like you’ve thrown a wrinkle in what they thought was a well-thought-out plan.

    Obviously, all the same caveats about taking a counter-offer apply, but just a thought if the abruptness of their offer was what was throwing you.

    1. Positivity Boy*

      Agreed with this. It’s not quite the same as a normal counteroffer where they just throw extra money at you that they weren’t already planning to give you anyway – in this situation it sounds very feasible that this was already the plan and they aren’t just offering it to placate the OP.

  21. Anonymous*

    Sounds like your current company is, at minimum, bad at internal communication.

    Do you want to be Director of Marketing of a place with such lousy internal communication? Are you prepared to deal with other (inevitably negative) surprises on a regular basis because no one kept you in the loop? Do you think you can change that part of your business’s culture, or are you stuck with it? How does the other job sound in that regard?

    Communication isn’t everything, but it sure ain’t nothing. Especially in marketing!

        1. Ruffingit*

          It does seem as though it might be obvious, but then I’ve seen other forums where people used names like “Newly unemployed” to indicate they are unemployed for the next week until the new job they just got starts or that they are seeking FT work, but are currently temping or any number of other things. I assume nothing based on a name. :) I do hope Newly unemployed has some source of income. I have quit jobs without another one to go to (once because the owner was mentally unstable and working there would cause me to be the same and once because the workplace was abusive). But, I also had a spouse who was keeping a roof over our heads and paying the other bills so I had the luxury of being able to do that. I hope newly has some source of income too, otherwise it’s very stressful.

  22. AnonMarketingFolk*

    Something very similar happened at my company. The manager of marketing (MoM) brought on someone new just months before MoM retired. The new person was promoted to MoM role over the Obvious Dandidate.

    The Obvious Candidate wasn’t happy, and she got another role in another department. About a year later, marketing was restructured (combining two companiess), and Obvious Candidate got the role as manager of the bigger, combined group, and the other MoM reported to her. The second MoM essentially was demoted to give the MoM role to the Obvious Candidate, and second MoM left the company shortly after. Companies do seem to find a way to push people out and give people they want to keep what they want.

  23. happy*

    I didn’t see this posted already: Another point for refusing the counter-offer is that moving to a new company looks better, in general. You’ve been at your current job for 7 years, so you aren’t a job hopper. Someone looking at your resume in 5 years or whatever is going to understand the “new company, new challenges” part, without you even having to say it. Move on!

    And ignore those saying you weren’t clear about your desire to move up. I bet you were very clear and it didn’t matter. Some people just don’t hear what you have to say, because they don’t like it.

    1. Dan*

      And ignore those saying you weren’t clear about your desire to move up.

      I have to agree here. Admitedly, there are a few exceptions out there, but EVERYONE wants to move up. Who would say, “No, really. Thank you, but don’t give me more pay and a more prestigious title. I’m happy at the bottom…”

      I’m going to start wearing a sign on my forehead that says, “In case you were wondering, I want a promotion and more pay.”

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Lol. . .yes!

        But. . .I also work for people who have shiny object syndrome. What’s in front of them gets attention. If you walked in and said, “Hey, Boss, I’d love to take on ___” and that solves his problem of the day, then that assignment is yours. If you wait around for him to realize, “Hmm, AnotherAlison would be perfect to manage _____,” forget it. He doesn’t operate that way. He’s in our office 2 days/mo. I get about 10 minutes of his time each month, and this is my direct manager. If I want something, I have to ask.

      2. Sydney*

        OP said she was middle management. That is not even close to the bottom.

        There are plenty of people who would rather stay in middle management than be promoted into a director position, and there are plenty of people who would rather stay a worker bee than a manager.

        1. Sharm*

          I’ll second this. I never want to be a director because I never want that responsibility. I am fine that I will never make a lot of money, because the stress and headaches would just be too much. For ME. Clearly not the case for other people, but it’s not one-size-fits-all.

        2. Kara*

          I can name at least three people I know personally who never want to manage people. I can think of a few more who DO manage people but say it’s the part of the job they like the least. I know someone who used to run her department but stepped down; she liked “being in the thick of” the work and wasn’t able to do that in the new role. So yeah, not everyone wants to climb the ladder all the way. (Sort of similar to “having it all” – means different things to different people.)

          1. Windchime*

            Now you know four. I don’t have any interest in being a manager at all. I do technical work and I’m a team lead, but all that really means is coordinating work and doing some planning. The thought of doing annual reviews on people and dealing with performance issues and complaints ….ugh, it just sounds like No Fun At All to me.

            1. Jen RO*

              Five! I tell this to all my interviewers – I want to advance in my field (junior to senior, new tools, better pay, etc), but I don’t ever want to manage people. I’m the most non-confrontational person I know and those difficult conversations would make me lose sleep.

        3. Anonymous*

          Even then, there’s room to go from Teapot Specialist to Senior Teapot Consultant (technical expert), not just Manager of Teapots.

  24. AnotherAlison*

    One more point of concern for the current company & taking the promotion would be the Director of Sales/Director of Marketing split. Since this is new, how confident is the OP that the role will remain at that level? Is there a risk that the position could be re-integrated and she becomes the marketing manager, reporting to the Director of Sales & Marketing? I might lean towards the new role if it were a more established position.

  25. Artemesia*

    In Academia, pretty much the only way you get a better salary or that lab you want etc is to be highly sought after and counter offers are common and expected. In business though, every person I know who has accepted one has regretted it. You are the disloyal employee who threatened to leave — from that moment, they are imagining how they will do without you and are likely to devalue you and undercut you until they eventually replace you. In this situation, you know you are working for someone who would fire someone to meet a crisis they provoked through bad hiring and management. Maybe it will be you some other day.

    Unless the new job was really not something you wanted to do, I would leave and not look back.

  26. anon-2*

    WOW. This is one of those counter-offers, unusual.

    First of all, you were either passed over for a directorship, or the spot was created specifically for a pal. And it didn’t work out.

    Second – management is now coming to you and saying, ADMITTING — what had gone on in the past, you probably should have been given the position, and the management is going to correct its past mistake. Someone is “going to the wall” for you.

    This is unusual – because managements usually don’t admit they made mistakes like this.

    I cannot make the decision for you – but in any event, you’ve emerged a winner here. Good luck in your decision. Either way, it looks like – YOU CAN’T LOSE HERE.

  27. Ruffingit*

    Outside of all the other issues, one thing that strikes me for the OP is this – she’s been at this company for 7 years. Moving on may be the best thing to do for her career since she’s reaching the point of having stayed TOO long at the same place. Alison has discussed that previously. Too long at the same place can get you the same side-eye that job hopping does, depending on the situation. Maybe this is a good chance for the OP to advance her career in more ways than one by showing she can rock her job at another company too.

  28. Not So NewReader*

    Alison’s questions are excellent, in that the questions hit the nail on the head for thinking about this dilemma.

    I was thinking about the mess the department is in. I have no doubt that you have the skills to clean it up. But do you WANT to take on the mess? Picture yourself fixing the umpteenth mistake of the previous director. Where are you at? Are you saying “I should have taken that other job?” Are you running down the hall crying? (Or at least in your mind’s eye.)

    I have cleaned up messes behind people. And it is a seige, an
    endurance contest.

    Finally, do you see yourself cleaning up the mess and the company says ,”So long, nice knowing you! Thanks for fixing the mess.”

    One helpful article I read awhile ago said that the most frequent reason people have for leaving is respect… or the lack of respect. People who take the counter offer figure out that a fatter paycheck is not the same as respect. It is just a fatter paycheck.

    Only you know the company well enough to judge this stuff. But these are the things I would be looking at. And I would also consider saying to myself “My knee-jerk reaction was NOT to say yes, but rather to go home and mull it over. There is a reason for that knee-jerk reaction. Look closer.”

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Yes, you are absolutely right about the knee jerk reaction, that was pretty much what happened when I found out a job with my old team was available again and there was definitely a reason for it!

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