my boss took away part of my job and I feel humiliated

A reader writes:

Almost eight months ago, I accepted a job on the leadership team of a moderate sized company. This job was a step up in responsibility, because it would allow me to lead a larger team. I supervise three managers, who in turn supervise other junior staff.

Today my boss, the CEO, informed me that she is going to start having one of the three managers on my team (Joe) report to her directly instead of to me. Joe’s job is not changing. The reason my boss gave is that Joe works more frequently with her, and Joe prefers to report to the CEO instead of me. It is true that they work together a lot. My boss is very involved in Joe’s work because she likes it, and in fact has been taking on a lot of tasks that I, as the team lead, should have been doing with him, but was never given the chance to do. I told my boss that I was against this change and listed several reasons why I did not think it was a good idea. But she’s going ahead with it anyway and says she hopes I’ll stay on and grow from the experience. From her perspective, this is a minor adjustment that I should not be upset about. My title and salary are not changing, although I don’t think the title now fits my role.

However, I can’t help but feel angry with both my boss and Joe (I know he had been requesting this change almost since I first arrived). Since I won’t be responsible for Joe’s area of work, the job is now very similar to the role I left when I came here. I feel humiliated when I think about people finding out about this change, like it reflects on me somehow. And I’m hurt that at the end of the day my boss didn’t care enough about my feelings to shut this down.

I would like to know if you think I’m overreacting. I am thinking about leaving this job because I don’t see how I can continue to work with two individuals when I feel so betrayed and disrespected. Additionally, now that the team is splintered in this way, I don’t see any path forward in terms of career growth. I’m very upset because when I took this job, I intended to stay for several years. I don’t want to start the job hunting process all over again. But I don’t know if I can get over this.

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today.

{ 229 comments… read them below }

  1. Chairman of the Bored*

    This sounds like a non-issue that is not worth getting upset about, especially in the absence of any specific negative feedback.

    If I were a colleague of LW and found out that Joe now reported to somebody else I wouldn’t give that 5 seconds of thought and certainly wouldn’t see it as indicative of her quality of work etc. People get shuffled around in companies for all sorts of reasons, generally nobody cares unless they’re directly impacted by it.

    I recommend LW focus on the non-Joe parts of her job, and try to enjoy this new situation of getting the same pay and title but with less total responsibility.

    Definitely stop fighting the boss about it, and don’t maintain a chip on your shoulder that will impact the quality of your remaining work or related interations.

    1. Kes*

      I think OP is overreacting and reacting emotionally/personally to a change that isn’t necessarily personal at all. I agree that others are unlikely to react to the change and think it’s about OP unless it fits into some existing context, like OP if has a reputation for overreacting or their management style or something.
      That said, I agree fighting the boss or holding onto the chip on their shoulder isn’t worth it, but I do think if OP is unhappy with the job as it is now as a result of the change, it’s fair for them to look for something else.

    2. Anonys*

      I don’t think it’s completely a non issue. I think it makes sense for Joe to report to the CEO as they are working so closely together anyway and the CEO is so closely involved in Joe’s work. But it sounds like the area Joe is responsible for is one OP was also interested in and was a key additional responsibility that made OP choose that job.

      I think ultimately the change in reporting lines is less of the issue because that is really only formalizing the more pertinent fact that OP hasn’t really fully been involved in/responsible for a management area they wanted to be responsible for.

      OP says: “Since I won’t be responsible for Joe’s area of work, the job is now very similar to the role I left when I came here.” so I understand the frustration as ultimately the job has turned out not to be what OP was hired for, even if the title and salary remain. Especially if OP wants to develop further as a manager in Joe’s area this will also have an impact on their professional development.

      1. The Bad Guy*

        Sometimes growth of an organization requires focus that isn’t always evident in a org structure. For example, the head of HR almost always cares about DE&I initiatives and at some orgs, the head of DE&I reports to the head of HR. But creating two org chart trees for HR and DE&I where the head of both reports to the CEO often makes sense, even if the head of HR is super invested in DE&I.

      2. Yennefer*

        I agree – I feel like the letter is addressing the wrong question. The reporting shift is distracting us and OP from the real issue at hand: that a major responsibility (something OP wants to do) has been moved to another leader. It’s a classic “I was hired to do A, but am now only doing B & C”. Maybe the real conversation OP should have with the CEO is if there was concerns about her ability to manage this new area and if there’s anything she can do to strengthen her experience. Maybe there’s ways for her to still be involved and learn even if Joe is no longer reporting to her if that’s something that’s important to her. She could have a candid conversation with the CEO, “I was excited about this part of my role and getting more experience in A. Now that Joe is reporting to you, is there any way for me to still be involved and get exposure to this area.” Before she decides to leave all together.

        OP, I agree with Alison’s advice to start by understanding the “why” behind the shift. If the reason behind the why is because the CEO didn’t like how you were managing Joe (I.e, was Joe going to the CEO because you don’t have the needed experience to answer his questions/make decisions?), then I think what I said above applies.

        1. Momma Bear*

          This is what I was thinking. It’s less about the reorg and more about the job duties. I think OP should ask why, non-confrontationally. If the thing that got removed indicated career growth, have that discussion with the boss. “Now that x and y are with Joe, I’m not seeing a clear growth path for me here” and then discuss where OP wants to be and if there’s a way there in this company. There may not be, or there may be something OP isn’t privy to at this moment. But if ultimately the answer is “there is no growth” OP then knows that and can make the choice to stay or go. Starting over isn’t always fun, but it isn’t always bad, either.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes to “Maybe the real conversation OP should have with the CEO is if there was concerns about her ability to manage this new area and if there’s anything she can do to strengthen her experience. ” I think you hit the nail on the head there.
          A was what OP was most interested in doing, because she’d already been doing B and C at her previous job. Now she’s been denied the possibility to expand her experience.
          There’s also the possibility that she’ll never be looped into conversations about A, and this could impact how she’d go about handling B and C, although we don’t know that, I’m just wondering out loud.

    3. Smithy*

      I think it depends why the OP took this job more broadly in terms of considering next steps. If the OP’s previous experience had been in Teapot Design & Delivery and the new skill part of this job was to also manage the Teapot Sales team – then having that taken away may make this job far less attractive. And if their current title reflects still overseeing sales (which they may know is a weakness in their overall resume given their professional ambitions), then I don’t think it’s just about their feelings.

      If this is representative of the situation, then I would see if there’s any part of the sales work the OP can remain more engaged with to still grow that part of their experience and see if that helps. Beyond that, I do think that a relaxed/unpressured job hunt with the understanding of “I thought this job would give me an opportunity to oversee Teapot Design, Delivery and Sales – but two months in Sales was moved to another team and is no longer the role I envisioned, therefore I’m seeking other opportunities more aligned with my professional ambissions”.

    4. ferrina*

      Really depends on what Joe’s job is. If LW is the Chief Technology Officer and Joe is the Head of Engineering, then that would be really weird and probably detrimental for him to go around LW. That would undermine LW’s whole job, and it would be good advice for LW to leave. (Agree that fighting the boss on a done deal or having a chip on your shoulder is always a bad idea)

      “Betrayed” is a weird word choice by LW though. Feeling frustrated or underminded, sure, but betrayed? That feels a little dramatic. Like Kes says, it’s not personal (doesn’t mean it’s not a terrible idea, just that you should treat it like a bad business decision rather than a personal betrayal)

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        If LW is the Chief Technology Officer and Joe is the Head of Engineering, then that would be really weird and probably detrimental for him to go around LW.

        At my company, our engineers do not report to the CTO, but rather the Chief Product Officer, so this wouldn’t be weird, though I agree with the larger point that if this new reporting structure really doesn’t make organizational sense, then it may be time to look elsewhere if the intent was to get experience overseeing Joe’s specific function.

    5. JelloStapler*

      Same, I’d just figure that was some re-organization going out because – well, places like to re-org.

    6. My Useless 2 Cents*

      There are three points I think that move this from a non-issue to a relevant issue

      1) LW mentions that Joe works closely with CEO because CEO was handling task that LW as team lead should have been given but ultimately wasn’t given the opportunity to do.
      *That she was never given the opportunity is at least a yellow flag for me.

      2) LW states that CEO said she “hopes I’ll stay on and grow from the experience.”
      *It shows very little confidence in LW abilities and judgement and leads me to wonder if CEO is unhappy with LW’s work.

      3) In Alison’s response she says that one employee shouldn’t necessarily dictate/effect the org chart of a company but that is basically what happened. Joe, LW’s report, pushed to directly report to CEO (step up for him) at the expense of LW (de facto step down). Given that it doesn’t sound like LW was ever given a true chance to advocate for herself and though she was able to push back some with several reasons why the change was bad, it was after the decision had been made. That she wasn’t consulted before the decision is a very troubling sign.

      LW has been there less than a year and already no longer sees a path forward at that company. She may be coming at this from an emotional point of view but I’d be very worried if I were LW.

      1. ohIdon'tknow*

        I agree; the fact that Joe vetoed their current supervisor(!) and chose another one, and their supervisor’s boss (Joe’s new supervisor) is OK with this, does not bode well for LW. If I said at MPOW, “I don’t like my current supervisor, I want a different one” I’d be told, “Yeeeah, that’s not how it works.” And that’s not how it should work.

        This kind of blatant favoritism is a red flag. I wonder if Joe and LW’s supervisor aren’t trying to get LW to quit or otherwise get rid of them.

      2. RosyGlasses*

        To your #3 point – it doesn’t necessarily equate to a step up/down. For example; I am a director. I have managers and team leads reporting to me. However, I also have individual contributors that report to me that don’t necessarily fit into another department, but could. In lieu of having one of them report to a manager, they work directly with me because of the nature of their job – but it does not level them to a team lead or manager and they are not included in those leadership discussions. It is more efficient than having to train a manager on what I need from that IC and they end up being a middle man.

    7. misty*

      Maybe – maybe not.

      I think OPs letter is a little clouded with her emotions, but that OP has been put in a very difficult position. It seems that Joe rejected OPs management, continued to work on the pieces of the job that brought OP on board with the CEO to bypass OP, and eventually lobbied to report to CEO and cut OP completely out. Essentially Joe got promoted, and OP got demoted.

      OP is now left with a job that is NOT an upgrade from her previous job, and she wouldn’t have made the switch if she’d know, and that she did not want the change and was vocual about it but was overruled in favor of what Joe preferred – so what to do?

      My advice is to polish up that resume and get out there. I would also seek input from the CEO (once the siutation calms down a bit!) on if there were any performance issues around overseeing the work that Joe heads up to see if there is something to be learned before moving on.

    8. JSPA*

      Broadly, if I have bad raport with someone who reports to me, I’d take it as a win-win if they happen to have good raport with somebody else, and it even made reasonable sense to switch the reporting structure.

      “mutual grin-and-bear-it” is sometimes essential, but it’s rarely ideal.

      I also find it telling (unless those details were cut for brevity) that the LW does not seem to have investigated exactly why and how Joe became uncomfortable with reporting to LW. If your reports are miserable enough to want to not report to you, that’s a pretty big deal, and it’s one that you should be proactive about, not punitive.

      Anyone else feel an underlying, “he was given to me, he is therefore mine, and part of my fiefdom” vibe?

      The (100% legitimate) issue about wanting to keep oversight of a product and/or department would resonate a lot better, if not for that (to me, present and problematic) vibe.

    9. The Real Fran Fine*

      I recommend LW focus on the non-Joe parts of her job, and try to enjoy this new situation of getting the same pay and title but with less total responsibility.

      We are HERE because I thought the exact same thing, lol.

  2. Miss Muffet*

    “Betrayed” and “disrespected” are *really* charged words for what is likely a move that just makes sense for the situation. Even if it is something like, the CEO just likes this person and wants them working directly for her, she is probably not betraying or disrespecting you.

    1. Anonym*

      Yes. My first instinct would be to think through the organizational practicalities and take a look at the politics of the situation in case of any red flags (Alison’s suggested questions are a much better articulation of this), and if there’s nothing majorly out of sorts there, assume it’s just logistical. Extra layers of management can easily become inefficient, and if the CEO has the bandwidth to directly manage another person, that could be a good result for the organization.

      Now, it still might not be worth staying – the ego and the resume are both very real – but you can make that choice more objectively based on what works for you, not any ideas of betrayal or that an organization should structure itself based on your feelings, sting though they might.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I always think that when you have this much of an emotional reaction to one decision at work, there’s a larger picture contributing to it. I wonder if OP feels acknowledged, respected and valued in general; like she’s being developed with good feedback. Or, if she feels overlooked and out of place. Obviously, even though it’s just one decision, it’s a big decision which will affect OP’s responsibilities so being a bit off or annoyed is totally proportionate. Feeling betrayed points to something else being the matter.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ooh, that’s a really useful insight – that the intensity of the feeling points to a larger context that needs to be acknowledged. I’ll remember that for myself!

      2. Tesuji*

        I’d wonder that as well.

        The entire “hopes I’ll stay on and grow from the experience” response feels like the boss saying that all of this is an OP problem and that she hopes OP deals with it… but if she doesn’t and moves on, the boss is okay with that too.

        That may be because OP is legitimately overreacting to this situation, but that might also just be a sign that the boss doesn’t particularly value her and is okay with not hiding that.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        For me, a larger-than-expected emotional reaction sometimes points to a pattern in another area of my life that I’m not acknowledging. Just something to consider.

    3. Sloanicota*

      This was my first instinct but what is this sentence: the boss “hopes I’ll stay on and grow from the experience.” Did … did OP already threaten to leave over this? If not, why does the boss seem to view it as a possibility? If it really is a nothingburger of a change, what is there to grow on?

      1. AnotherOne*

        I wonder if Boss recognizes to some degree that taking away the responsibilities related to Joe means OP’s job has been downgraded.

        And I’m not sure what it means “grow from this experience”? from failing to push enough to insist the CEO keep Joe reporting to her? failing to make sure that the CEO transitioned tasks related to Joe to OP instead of keeping them, which would have kept this from happening?

        1. The OTHER other*

          There’s not enough info on this in the letter but it’s possible LW was just not managing/interacting well with Joe. So maybe a way to grow is “do a good job with your other two reports, so they don’t ask to be managed by someone else too”?

          It might be a demotion, or it might be an innocuous management reshuffle that doesn’t mean anything deeper. If Joe had been working closely with the CEO already, having another layer of management between him and the CEO might have been seen by Joe as too much hassle.

      2. Lacey*

        Yeah, that gave me pause too. It made me think that maybe the boss really is intentionally diminishing the OP’s role. I’ve heard this kind of language used when people are being sidelined and then management also wants to be able to say, “no, no, it’s not a demotion” but in effect it is.

      3. Saberise*

        I don’t know, based on the way she worded things here I think she probably came across rather the same way with her boss.

    4. cosmicgorilla*

      Agree. “Disrespected” is a word that to me indicates the person using it doesn’t have a good handle on their emotional responses.

    5. MissM*

      >> she hopes I’ll stay on and grow from the experience

      Unfortunately it sounds like those emotions were also on display during the conversation with the CEO.

  3. VanLH*

    Hmmm…she says she hopes (HOPES!!!) I stay and grow from the experience…Wow. She is clearly telling you she does not value or respect you as a manager. That is a very condescending thing to say. Start working on your resume is my advice.

    1. Chairman of the Bored*

      I read that as the boss saying “if you’re really so bent out of shape about this that you’ll quit then ok, but either way the decision is final and I hope you can get over it”.

      This seems like a very reasonable thing for a boss to say to an employee who is upset about a straightforward personnel decision.

      1. Ann Nonymous*

        I concur with the Chairman. LW has been in a snit and boss is tired of it. Get on board or get out is what I’d be thinking if I were the boss.

        1. No Name Today*

          I feel what you are saying about this. I also feel that there is some indication that Joe has been in a snit since OP got the promotion. I think OP should look closely at how boss views her, because Joe got something that, while it may be in the best interest of the department, is still a big organizational shift that he wanted.
          Ultimately, there are bad feelings all around. Boss is either #teamjoe or #sickofit

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            I get the impression that Joe must have wanted the promotion, didn’t get it (as OP was recruited from externally instead), had conversations of some kind with the CEO of the “I need a promotion or I’m leaving” type, so CEO has created this job for Joe as ‘equal’ of the OP. OP said her salary and title haven’t changed. She didn’t mention anything about Joe’s. I think he has done quite well out of this.

            I first read the letter as OP letting emotions get in the way (there was a lot of emotive language in the letter), and to some extent it’s just business, but I do think there must be a bit more to it than just CEO works closely with Joe so changed the reporting lines. Any time something changes – you have to ask what specifically caused it to change. “Oh well Joe and I have always worked closely” isn’t a specific thing precipitating it, but -something- is.

      2. Myrin*

        I didn’t read it as either of those things (your or Van’s interpretation, I mean) – I understood it as boss saying “I understand you view this as a big enough change to want to leave over and if that ends up being the case, then so be it, but I hope that you’ll find yourself wanting to stay”.

      3. Triplestep*

        Agree. I don’t think this was said unsolicited. I think the LW must have pointed out that the part of her portfolio she’s losing was one of her reasons for taking the job, and this was the response from the CEO. These things can’t be taken in a vacuum.

      4. Smithy*

        Without knowing the business or what these departments are – I don’t think we’re 100% in a position to say how straightforward a personnel decision this is. As opposed to a more nuanced decision where the OP disagreeing with the choice is necessarily reflected by their other personal feelings about this decision.

        I’ve seen more than one senior leader really like one team’s area of work more so than others, and therefore be far more engaged and blur management lines as a result. The OP can be in an emotional place that’s blurring their judgement now, without making their initial disagreement with the decision one that is clouded by bad professional judgement.

    2. Blue*

      You might be right, but I could also imagine a scenario in which the OP’s heightened emotions were leading them to have a big outburst in the CEO’s office. “I hope you can stay and grow from this” might have been polite code for “I need you to figure out how to deal with this more professionally or your job is going to be at risk.”

      1. Lab Boss*

        Right- it’s tough to tell if the CEO’s desired “growth” for OP is “You’re not good enough at your job but hopefully you can get better” or “You’re having an emotional overreaction to this situation but hopefully you can get beyond that.”

    3. Georgie*

      Maybe I’m misreading, but I don’t really get that from those words…why is that a condescending thing to say? Seems overall good and positive that the manager wants her to stay?

      1. VanLH*

        The part in the ellipses. It strongly comes across as a condescending pat on the head and being told to run along and let the adults make the decision, and, of course, your input is not needed or wanted.

        1. Save the Hellbender*

          I don’t think that’s expressed here. OP shouldn’t assume bad intentions – overreacting is a good way to behave in ways that damage you professionally.

        2. Chairman of the Bored*

          That is an OK thing for a boss to (professionally, politely) tell an employee if they continue to raise objections to a decision that has been made at a higher level.

          Leadership is allowed to decide that an issue is closed and expect everybody to start moving in that direction. They are under no obligation to continue rehashing it endlessly with subordinates.

          This isn’t condescending, it’s just how organizations work.

          1. The Real Fran Fine*

            Thank you. Since when do CEO’s have to run organizational changes by direct reports for approval?

        3. Georgie*

          But what else could the boss have said that wouldn’t have sounded condescending? It sounds like from context, OP was saying they were upset with the changes. I’m not sure what else their boss could have said…?

          1. PlainJane*

            Really, almost anything but that. It very much comes across as Van said–“Run along and play now. You’re so clearly in the wrong that it’s not even worth discussing. You wouldn’t understand it, anyway.”

            Ideally, OP would have asked, when the person was repeatedly asking for a transfer of authority, if there was some problem with her performance as a manager that was causing this, so she could correct it. But as it doesn’t sound like this happened OR like the upper manager offered much of a reason (really, if this made sense in the first place, then why wasn’t the job structured that way from the start?), the “learn and grow” comes off as, “Don’t you know life sucks? Grow up and play politics with the rest of us.” Which, yes, is condescending.

            1. starfox*

              Personally, I don’t think we can quibble over what the manager said or didn’t say and exactly what words she used, since OP included a paraphrase that doesn’t seem like a direct quote at all.

              1. SweetFancyPancakes*

                Exactly. Given that the OP has said she feels “betrayed” and “disrespected”, she may also be putting a very emotional spin on anything the boss may have said. We don’t know if this is a direct quote, or just what the OP heard in her emotional state.

              2. Koalafied*

                Agreed, it’s frustrating comments section starts going down these rabbit holes of micro-analyzing and judging every word choice when 95% of the time the letter doesn’t include a single verbatim quote, and basically 0% of the time includes a full line by line transcript of the entire conversation. Then they come away with these extreme and unnuanced takes that only make sense if you interpret the letter in one of many possible ways.

            2. JSPA*

              Few workplaces operate as deliberative democracies.

              There seems to be some excess pearl clutching and drama over the fact that in a corporate context, it’s dead normal to have differences in rank a power differential, and decisions made at one level that are not open for debate at a lower level.

              That doesn’t mean the LW’s only option was, “keep head down and say nothing.” But at this point, they’ve already burned through a heck of a lot of social capital, and not to much useful effect.

        4. starfox*

          Sometimes, managers have to make decisions that others don’t like. It sounds like she at least heard OP out for her reasoning and decided that it still makes more sense for Joe to report to her directly. She doesn’t have to change her mind based on OP’s input. It would be condescending if she hadn’t let OP talk at all. She ultimately has to choose what’s best for the company, regardless of OP’s feelings.

          Also, we really can’t quibble over words when the letter is clearly a paraphrase and probably not exactly what the manager said.

    4. Heidi*

      If the OP told the CEO that they see no path forward in this role as she did in this letter, it would be reasonable for the CEO to conclude that the OP was planning on leaving. To say that she hopes the OP stays doesn’t sound so unreasonable in that situation.

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      It seems to me that the LW probably told her boss that managing Joe’s area is important to her and she feels like her areas for growth are now constrained, and the “hope she stays and can grow” comment is about that.

    6. JelloStapler*

      I don’t read it that way at all, I see it as she hopes she does not take it personally (because it is not) and still stays on to learn in other ways.

    7. ohIdon'tknow*

      Agree. Rewarding a brownnoser and gaslighting the LW are toxic behaviors on the part of the boss.

  4. Seal*

    The same thing just happened to me with one of my direct reports and feel the same way as the OP does. In my case, I was completely blindsided by my boss and my direct report, who had never said anything about wanting to change reporting lines and really didn’t have a good reason to do so. The new reporting lines split up one of my teams, which is already causing confusion and resentment. Since this is part of a larger pattern with my boss, I’m more exasperated than humiliated. And definitely job hunting!

    1. L-squared*

      I mean, in fairness, if I really didn’t like my boss an didn’t want to work with them, I wouldn’t be bringing it up either. Why make the person mad who can fire you, or give you horrible assignments?

      1. Seal*

        I don’t disagree; I hate my boss and don’t want to work with them, either (hence the job hunting). The problem here is that the employee in question is part of a larger team that works closely together, which makes having them report to my boss very problematic.

        1. L-squared*

          Sure, but point being, he talked to the CEO, and the CEO decided that this new reporting structure would work. I don’t see why OP feels she was owed Joe talking to her about it.

  5. Purple Cat*

    Oof, well by using words such as “Betrayed, disrespected, and Humiliated” – YES you are overreacting.
    So the difficult thing will be how to separate your emotions from the reality of the situation. On the one hand, this change really doesn’t seem to be a big deal. On the other hand, you’ve lost oversight of an area you were excited about AND the fact the CEO said “I hope you stay on and grow from the experience” is slightly concerning. What growth is she expecting? And was this change performance related?
    You need to have a sit down to just talk performance and expectations and really listen to her reasons for making the change – without listening to respond. Which is tough.
    Good luck!

    1. Sara without an H*

      Good advice. Maybe the CEO is a flake and maybe she isn’t. But it sounds to me like the OP is not really in alignment with the CEO about goals and expectations. My advice would be to work on that piece of the relationship with the CEO before making any decisions about staying or leaving.

    2. Avril Ludgateaux*

      I too found myself wondering if this change was performance related. The “I hope you grow from this experience” makes me wonder if the OP was falling short on managing Joe, which is why the CEO stepped in and made the change in the first place.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I think it’s more that Joe was miffed at having to report to OP despite OP not having experience in his field, while he’s quite the expert. He doesn’t want an extra layer of management when he used to report to the CEO and the CEO is very interested in his work.
        I don’t think OP was really given a chance to manage Joe, the change was made very quickly.

        1. Avril Ludgateaux*

          That’s valid and possible. Unfortunately, as unfair as it is, from the CEO’s perspective, being unable to rein Joe in could be a reflection on the LW’s ability to manage, even if Joe was resistant, even recalcitrant. Either the CEO doesn’t care how difficult he is and expects LW to be able to control Joe, or Joe has charmed the CEO enough that he’s poisoned the well with suggestions of LW’s incompetence (when in reality he has a bad attitude about LW). The chosen phrasing came off like, from the CEO’s perspective, it was LW who fell short, even if this isn’t the reality.

  6. Mjd*

    I feel the LW is taking this way too personally; the preference likely has nothing to do with her. Most people prefer to report to as senior a leader as possible, as this increases the individual’s ability to influence within an organization through lots of direct face time with the leader. More face time with the leader also provides better odds of promotion to other senior leadership roles the individual might be interested in. It’s probably not about disrespect at all! I know it’s a disappointment for LW, but it’s likely not a reflection on her as a manager.

    1. Green Goose*

      I agree with this. I’ve gone through multiple bosses in my tenure at my company and my job has always been the least bureaucratic when I was reporting to someone higher up. It was less meetings because they were the final decision maker, and I was able to be a lot more productive.

      I totally understand the sting of this happening, especially if owning Joe’s department was a specific reason you took the role, but unless if Joe has other motives not clear in the OP, then I think wanting to report to the CEO makes sense. It’ll make his job easier and cut out one less person to have to meet with and run things by.

    2. Sloanicota*

      To be fair, it probably is a power move on Joe’s part. He’s now basically above the other two managers on the org chart, and is more equal to OP rather than reporting to her. That’s pretty smooth of him. The grandboss may have needed to think this through a bit more if that wasn’t actually her intention, but basically he’s now put himself in line of being groomed for promotion.

      1. L-squared*

        I mean, if he has put himself in the position to be groomed for promotion, so what? Like, why is that a bad thing. Assuming he does his job well, he is now essentially able to show it more to someone who can promote him.

        1. Sloanicota*

          It’s great for him, but it does have him basically leapfrogging OP who presumably is not being groomed for promotion based on having responsibilities taken away.

          1. L-squared*

            So? I mean, is he supposed to consider her career growth over his own? I’m just not seeing how him working toward his own career growth is being looked at negatively here.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Not him, LW’s boss. LW’s boss needed to think through all the ramifications of promoting Joe to be a direct report in tandem with taking away some of LW’s areas of responsibility.
              That change won’t be happening in a vacuum and without strong support from CEO, it wouldn’t surprise me that LW and others in the organization will see the reorg as positioning Joe as a rising star while LW’s stock has gone down. That may not be the intent of the reorg, and if it isn’t CEO should be taking steps to reiterate LW’s standing as a valued member of the management team … not just individually to LW, but to peers and others in the company.
              The apparent lack of that, combined with the fact that this reorg was a surprise to LW and not something she was brought in to strategize about BEFORE the change was made feels like LW is not standing on super-firm or rising ground at the moment.

              1. L-squared*

                I’m fine wiht that whole line of thinking, but the original comment I’m responding to is implying Joe did something wrong here.

              2. The Real Fran Fine*

                LW’s boss needed to think through all the ramifications of promoting Joe to be a direct report

                We don’t know that Joe was “promoted” to anything – his reporting structure was just changed. When my now direct reports were moved under me instead of under my manager, they weren’t “anywhere” and the shift doesn’t indicate to anyone else on our team that’s at their level that they’re now being groomed for quick advancement over everyone else. Reorgs like this happen all the time.

                Most of the comments on this letter are baffling to me, and I wonder if most people here that are as up in arms as the OP have ever worked in corporate America before because…this is a pretty normal thing to have happened. It’s also reasonable for OP to take a dispassionate look at this event, decide that the point of coming over was to have more oversight into Joe’s area as a leg up in her own career, and now that that’s been taken away, start job hunting for something more in line with OP’s long term career goals. It’s disappointing to feel like you were bait and switched when it comes to job responsibilities, but from what was written in this letter, it really doesn’t sound to me like the CEO’s decision was a personal slight to OP at all.

          2. JSPA*

            Quite possibly, though not necessarily. (Who knows if in some other universe there’s another version of this story where OP keeps their cool, requests an additional report to bring themselves up to full managerial capacity, and is assured that this will happen shortly?)

            OP can of course look at other jobs, if OP no longer values and fancies the job, as it currently is.

            But OP doesn’t have the option of locking down other people’s promotions (nor of preventing corporate re-organizations) in the name of keeping a personal fiefdom intact.

    3. hbc*

      Yeah, I don’t think it’s any kind of betrayal or scheme for Joe to think, “My work is important enough that I should be C-suite level” or “If I’m being managed by the CEO in practice, it’s unfair that I’m two levels down on the org chart.” It’s likely he’s been in a really bad spot with the CEO and OP giving conflicting directions. A step up the ladder for Joe isn’t inherently a step down for OP.

      There *might* be an element of the CEO thinking that OP can’t handle that area as well as the CEO, but it doesn’t sound like it’s because she thinks OP stinks at it. More that it’s an area where she highly values her own control/vision/what-have-you, and she gets to make that call.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This was what I wondered. Is the grandboss’ background in Joe’s field? Unfortunately a lot of senior people will tend to keep an oar in, even though that tends to privilege the issues they happen to be experienced with rather than what’s strategically the most important to the organization overall. That said, I could see Joe wondering why he has to listen to OP a) she’s not very experienced in his field and b) the boss is. It sucks for OP though, since she was hired with the understanding that this would be under her purview.

      2. L-squared*

        “A step up the ladder for Joe isn’t inherently a step down for OP.”

        This is exactly it. She seems to be threatened by Joe now being closer to her level. But she doesn’t need to be. Joe is still doing the same job

        1. Potatoes for all!*

          I think it /is/ personal in that the OP has a career interest in having oversight of the area Joe is in. It’s not “personal” in the sense of “this transfer was arranged in order to insult me” but it is personal in that it affects the OP’s job satisfaction and potential future career opportunities

          (eg. You’ve managed teapot manufacturing quality teams for years; you took a new job at a factory that wanted to use new AI/ML tools for QA, which you think are going to be the future of your industry; but now the AI/ML initiative is directly under CEO. Even if that’s what objectively makes the most sense for the company, it’s ok for you to say that means recognizing the job is no longer right for you, and even be a little frustrated, same as any “they said the job was X when they hired me, but then it changed to Y” situation)

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          Not intrinsically because it’s a step up for Joe – but it seems undeniable that it’s a step down for OP. She used to be Head Of three areas. Now she’s Head Of two areas.

          I’d be curious to know how this organisational change is communicated to other people in the company. There’s a lot of ways that message could go!

          I think it is only a matter of time before Joe gets given a ‘Head Of’ (or whatever OPs title is) title of his own “to better reflect the reality of the Area A structure”…

          1. mw*

            But she’s not really the head of those areas. Those areas each have their own head. It sounds like Joe was already the head of that department, they just changed who Joe was reporting to.

            If the OP is that upset over losing that one direct report because it makes more like her last job, it sounds more like she would rather have Joe’s job.

            1. L-squared*

              Exactly.

              For instance, I’ve been at companies where the Head of Sales and the Head of Marketing, both reported to the COO. However, I’m not sure that if the Head of Sales then started reporting directly to the CEO, that doesn’t really change anything for the COO. The head of sales was always in charge of sales.

          2. Koalafied*

            This really varies, I think. My org has been through several reorgs and it was typically pretty clearly communicated that the goal was to make the org chart more closely reflect the way work actually gets done and put the people who work closely together day to day closer together on the org chart. I only interpreted it as step up or step down for managers involved if someone’s job title changed as a result of the reorg. In this case, LW is keeping her title, and there’s no mention that Joe is actually being promoted. In my workplace it’s quite common for managers to have reports anywhere from 1-3 grades below them in the title hierarchy. If you’re Level 4 reporting to a Level 6, a Level 5 reporting to the same Level 6 is still one level higher than you in seniority. Your own title determines your job grade/seniority, not your manager’s title.

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        And OP doesn’t actually have experience in this part of her job either. She was doing A and B previously, and in this new job, C was added, but now has been removed because Joe no longer reports to her. She was excited to be able to expand her experience in terms of C, so it was new to her. Joe probably felt miffed at reporting to someone who didn’t know what his job entailed, especially since he previously had a gratifying relationship reporting directly to the CEO who is very involved in his role.

  7. Ari*

    My company is constantly reorganizing for various reasons that may or may not make sense. I’ve learned not to take it personally unless someone has actually given me feedback that indicates I did something wrong. From what you’ve said, it sounds like it makes more sense for both Joe and the CEO. If you aren’t actually supervising his work and assignments, how can you realistically give him feedback on performance? I understand that you wanted to do that supervision but if I’m reading your letter correctly, this is a setup that predates your promotion and therefore not a result of a failing on your part. You just have to decide whether you still want the job as it’s now defined.

    1. Blisskrieg*

      Agreed. I see a lot of changes in reporting where I’m at. Sometimes it represents a demotion–but not usually. Usually it’s just a look at how priorities have shifted or how closely different positions are working together. This sounds like it’s more in the second bucket. Sometimes these changes are ill advised, but other times it works out well. Either way, I don’t think employees read too much into it.

  8. LB*

    I’m concerned with boss’ comments that she hopes OP will “stay on and grow from the experience.” To me that indicates that OP wasn’t meeting expectations in managing Joe’s area of work. Coupled with the fact that OP says she wasn’t given the opportunity to be involved in Joe’s area and he “prefers” reporting to the CEO, to me this indicates that there’s more going on. And of course he prefers reporting to the CEO – he’s essentially been promoted to the same level as OP. Maybe it would be helpful for her to frame the situation that way – as a promotion for her former report who does good work that doesn’t impact OP’s pay or title. That said, it’s never fun having responsibility taken away, so I get where she’s coming from.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I had the same interpretation of that comment — it really jumped out at me. It could actually mean a bunch of things, but with the information provided I took that to mean the OP has some corrective development work to do.

    2. Mid*

      I interpreted it as OP was threatening to leave/was visibly upset, so it was more of a reaction to that than the CEO wanting OP to actually leave.

    3. Witty Worker*

      I read it the same way—it’s implied that OP wasn’t managing Joe and his areas of oversight effectively. It’s possible that there are larger organizational politics at play but it reads a bit like the CEO never gave the OP a chance to manage her full team without interference or wasn’t giving feedback about managing Joe, instead an org change was made.

      Either the OPs response is off or the culture of the org is off but either way this doesn’t seem like a good mutual fit.

    4. The Real Fran Fine*

      Nowhere does it say Joe was promoted. His reporting line was just switched – that’s it.

      1. Avril Ludgateaux*

        If your reporting line goes from being you-manager-executive to you-executive, even if your title is the same and your pay is the same, in terms of social capital and access to influential decision makers, you’ve effectively gotten a promotion. In so far as it’s going to fast track your growth, anyway.

  9. PersephoneUnderground*

    I want to chime in that this *does* seem like a significant change to the OP’s job, particularly as she mentioned the removal of Joe’s area of responsibility makes this job very similar to her old one. That’s a pretty large change in responsibility.

    She took a job supervising e.g. llama, dog, and cat groomers and left one that only covered dog and cat groomers. But now the llama groomers have switched to not report to her anymore, after avoiding giving her a chance to work with them in the first place (she mentioned projects she should have had a chance to work on that were taken directly to the CEO instead, even before this change). Whether or not the move makes sense for the organization, the OP seems perfectly justified in being upset at this change- she’s not overreacting. But of course she’ll need to give the sting time to wear off before she makes any long-term decisions, per Alison’s advice. Maybe this job is still better than the last one even without the llamas.

    I see some comments saying she is overreacting when it sounds like it is in fact a big change, and wanted to provide a counterpoint. Obviously it doesn’t serve her well to act on these emotions, but I don’t like the idea of telling her she’s wrong for having them.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think there are two things happening in this letter. One is that LW is unhappy that an area of responsibility that drew her to the job is being taken away. That makes total sense, and she may very well want to look elsewhere for the career growth she is seeking.

      The other is her interpretation of the change in reporting, which she is really taking as being directly aimed at herself. That’s where I think she needs to take a beat and reassess. Changing reporting structures is not a “betrayal” and shouldn’t be made based on her feelings. She is really personalizing something that does not seem personal.

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        yes. restructuring happens all the time, and it sounds like there was a business need for this.

      2. Lacey*

        I agree that the OP needs to take a beat, but I can imagine that if I’d just left a job for one with more responsibility and 8 months later that job was changed to be the same as my old one… I’d feel a bit betrayed.

        That’s maybe not a useful feeling, but it doesn’t seem outrageous to me.

        1. Quake*

          …really? Like I’d understand feeling disappointed or annoyed but “betrayed” is just so much more over the top melodramatic.

          1. The Real Fran Fine*

            This. Disappointment is natural within the bounds of a professional work environment, but betrayal sounds like some Game of Thrones shit.

    2. Anonym*

      You’re articulating something important. OP can decide the situation doesn’t work for her, because it IS a big change. Completely valid! But she needs to let go of the intense, personalizing emotions about it to a) be realistic and professional and b) make a clear-headed decision.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Upset seems like a totally reasonable response to me.
      Betrayed and disrespected is where I feel like it ventures into overreacting. Those words suggest a level of ill intent from the manager that isn’t indicated anywhere in the letter.

    4. Kara*

      I think it’s absolutely a significant change and the OP certainly can be disappointed, frustrated, annoyed, and even feel mislead about the terms of the job.

      I think what most people (myself included) are reacting to are the words “betrayed” and “humiliated” and “disrespected”. Those feel excessive to me and make me wonder if the OP is using those words to her boss.

    5. mw*

      If she’s regretting taking this job because by losing that one manager under her makes it just like her old job, it sounds like she would rather have Joe’s job.

  10. Cisco Kid*

    I think the devil is in the details with this one. It’s very dependent on context.

    For example, how will the change be communicated to the rest of the org? Was leading a team and/or a team member focused on X part of the promised responsibilities when taking the step up? Since Joe is a manager, is their whole reporting structure moving along with him and impacting how you all work together?

    This line jumps out at me from the letter: “My boss is very involved in Joe’s work because she likes it, and in fact has been taking on a lot of tasks that I, as the team lead, should have been doing with him, but was never given the chance to do.” To me, this sounds like you not only feel that you’re not getting the experience advertised with the increase in responsibility, but that your boss might be hogging the ball a bit and blocking you from that experience while framing the lack of this experience as a growth opportunity.

    If it were me, I’d start looking to see if the grass is greener elsewhere but wait to jump for the right opportunity vs. getting out at all costs.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Yes, and when OP interviews, she can always say that the job was reconfigured in a way that made it very different from what she signed on for. The danger of starting a job search while she’s still in the grip of very strong emotions is that she might jump from an unpleasant situation to a really toxic one.

  11. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — I know it’s hard not to take this personally, but if you treat this as a personal slight, you run the risk of doing things that won’t be in your best interest.

    I strongly recommend that you work on your relationship with the CEO. It sounds as though you and she aren’t aligned on goals and expectations for your position. Try to find out more about what she’s thinking and expecting of you.

    And then give it six months or so. Can you find ways to grow the position so that it gives you more opportunities for development? If not, then you can start job hunting for something that’s a better fit.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I like your response. There’s too much context we’ll never know from OP’s letter. Which is why Allison answered from so many different angles. There’s ample reason to let the dust settle and re-evaluate later with a clear head.

  12. Rochelle*

    I’m curious about the background here… it was pretty buried, but the comment the CEO made about hoping the letter writer “grows from the experience,” stuck out to me. Most of the time, we aren’t expected to “grow” from minor logistical reshuffling… which makes me think there is context that is being left out.

    Why is growth being hoped for? Had there been some issue with her managing of Joe before now? Had she not been showing competence/an interest in learning those parts of her own job that the CEO has taken on?

    To be sure, those are things that the CEO should have addressed with her before just removing Joe and his workload from the letter writer’s purview, but such a strong emotional reaction to something which seems like a small issue (as presented in this letter) suggests that there is more to this situation.

    1. yala*

      I think the context is that OP expressed the feeling that this restructuring was a negative to her, and “grow from the experience” is a general (if frustrating) response to someone talking about a challenging/unpleasant situation.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I lean toward this interpretation – that in the CEO’s view, OP’s reaction is immature and she has space to grow as a person in terms of her response to disappointment, not necessarily grow in skills or expertise directly related to the work. Whether that’s right or wrong, charitable or not, I do get slight perfectionist vibes from this letter (which I can relate to, as I had similar feelings in a somewhat similar situation).

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        I agree. I think the OP can “grow” from the disappointment of a restructure; a big buzz word these days is building “resiliency.” It didn’t sound like a personal strike against her, but losing a whole line of reports can seem like a demotion even if her title doesn’t change.

    2. Spencer Hastings*

      I had the same thought — it seems like the boss is telling the LW different things at different times.

      Sometimes she presents it as a minor change in reporting lines that doesn’t affect anyone, and has nothing to do with how good a job LW did as Joe’s manager. (And which Joe had been lobbying for from the start, before anyone knew how good or bad LW would be as his manager.) But at other times, it’s a setback that she hopes LW can “grow from”.

      If I were in LW’s position, I’d be confused about which it is, and I’d want to make sure I understand which it is.

    3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I 100% interpreted that “grow from this” comment as the boss telling the LW that they were overreacting, taking things too personally, and needed to chill/be professional.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        And from what’s in the letter… boss is right!

        It isn’t very professional to take things personally at any time of course, even as an individual contributor… OP is not only a manager (where these things are even more important) but a manager of other managers – she’s part of senior management!

        I think a bit of growth in “business awareness” may be needed. Business decisions (in a sane organisation) don’t get overturned because of someone’s feelings about them, nor should they. (I think that’s why she feels ‘disrespected’ — that her feelings weren’t taken into account.)

  13. ASW*

    If it weren’t for certain details being different, I would think I knew who wrote this. In my situation, I report to Joe. My manager has been in Joe’s situation for the past year and it sounds like she’s going to be reporting directly to the CEO soon instead of one of the CEO’s current reports. In my opinion, this should have happened from the beginning. My manager has been caught in the middle of essentially working for two bosses for the past year and I have seen first hand how much that sucks and how awkward it can be. Maybe that’s the position Joe has found himself in. If the CEO is set on being involved in the things that Joe does, that’s her choice and changing the reporting structure probably makes sense and makes Joe’s life a lot less stressful which is not necessarily a reflection on the OP.

    1. Purple Cat*

      This is a really good take on the (potential) situation. CEO could be making this change as a favor to Joe so he’s not being pulled in multiple directions – and doesn’t really have anything to do with how she views OP.

    2. pie*

      I was the middle manager at my last job (line between exec dir and people in charge of different programs) and it was the least efficient and most confusing system. When I left, I told them not to replace the leadership part of my position, only the technical part, and have program leads report to the exec dir to save time and energy.

    3. Triplestep*

      This is the exact way I read it. It sounds like the LW’s job description should never have included Joe’s area. It’s too bad that it was one of the reasons she pursued the role in the first place, but I have also seen things like this happen. It’s tough to be in Joe’s position as a subject matter expert who – on paper – is reporting to someone just learning about his area of expertise, while working closely with (i.e. dotted line reporting to) the CEO.

      LW, it’s understandable you’re disappointed, but I would really try to stop seeing this as a “betrayal.” If what I wrote above seems like it applies to this situation, try to see it from Joe’s perspective. Who would you want to report to? Someone brought in to (among other things) learn about what you do? Or someone higher up who already has an interest and a background? This is not personal.

    4. hbc*

      I would put money on this being the case. And if you forced me to get more specific in my guess, I bet the roll-up of the three areas under OP is what makes the most sense on paper. Say: marketing, inside sales, and outside sales. But either marketing at this place is way more strategic and complicated than the other two areas and needs daily attention at the highest level, or the CEO just loves fiddling with tweets and following the latest marketing fads.

      So someone writes the job description for OP that makes sense, and then it doesn’t work in practice.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        But the CEO is OPs boss – wouldn’t she have written (or at least had significant input on) the job description and what the role includes?

        1. All Het Up About It*

          I posted my theory elsewhere that the individual who previously held this role was less hands on with Joe’s role, so of course they just left the job description as is. But the reality with the OP in the new role wasn’t working, so they changed it.

          Even if it was a new role, they assumed it would make sense for all three reporting lines to run through the OP, but then again, reality was different, so the CEO is in effect changing the job description. It happens.

        2. hbc*

          Having worked with a company president who got waaaay too much into the details on things that excited him, these types can easily be convinced of the right ownership when it’s theoretical. My guy would say (and believe) that decisions about non-critical parts should be made without his input, but he still blocked a minor change on a $10 accessory for a $30K system for years. :/

          And sometimes you’re just wrong, and you don’t know that the logical structure is a bad fit until you’ve lived with it for a while.

  14. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Your reaction reads to me like you have far too much of your self-image wrapped up in work related things. It’s OK to have emotions and feelings about work matters, of course; but being *betrayed* and *humiliated* by what sounds like a routine and relatively minor restructure – of ONE former direct report – is very concerning. It could benefit you to step back and do some thinking about the bigger picture and why you are having such a strong reaction to this.

    Whether you should change jobs over this is kind of a separate issue – like Alison said, if you’re doing it for purely emotional reasons, it’s worth second-guessing. It’s the extremeness of your emotional reaction that’s sticking out as the problem here. Having your self worth tied to your job like this is not healthy and is a fast track to burnout. Best of luck OP.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It makes me feel like there was a lot wrapped up in this promotion in the first place, I’d be interested in the backstory. Feeling like she’s reverted to her old job seems to be a real gut punch, in a way that seems like an overreaction by the facts presented but it just feels like there’s more background.

  15. TeamPottyMouth*

    The intensity with which the OP has met this change makes me wonder if there’s more to this issue than we see at face value. I wonder if OP isn’t suffering from some PTSD from a previous “toxic workplace”, where these kinds of unannounced changes were a sign that someone was about to be fired. When you’ve been in a workplace where people are ambushed w pink slips without warning or reasonable coaching, you end up interpreting every change that isn’t rewarding you as a sign of impending doom.

  16. Anomie*

    There’s a lot of emotion going on here. Too much. This change probably works better for boss and OP should just make it work. Hurt feelings are not a good look in this situation. She is the one making it weird.

  17. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    “Just wait for the sting you’re currently feeling to wear off before you do anything irreversible,” is a fantastic and fitting piece of advice for many, many situations.

  18. learnedthehardway*

    You said you took the role to get experience leading a larger team. Just as (possibly more important), you’re leading a team of direct and second line reports. Ie. a team with multiple levels.

    Does the team you are left with, once Joe and his group move to reporting to the CEO, still represent a bigger scope of role than the one you previously left?

    If yes, then it makes sense to stay and continue to get the experience you set out to get. Consider that Joe’s move is simply an organizational reorg that fits the needs of the business. It doesn’t reflect on you. In fact, you could possibly point to it as someone who progressed their career under your management (if you want to stretch things).

    Org changes happen all the time, and it doesn’t make sense to see it as a personal humiliation. It might be frustrating, for sure, and it’s annoying that the scope of your role didn’t turn out to be as big as you had expected, but given the details, it’s very unlikely that this has anything to do with you personally, and I’m sure that your colleagues will understand as well.

    On the other hand, if the role now doesn’t offer you the learning you wanted in the role, or if the mandate is effectively the same one you left to take this role, or if you have completely lost your trust in the leadership, then it does make sense to start job hunting. Just be smart about it – consider whether you need to stay to establish stability or whether your resume / job track record can handle a short term role. Can you still add some important accomplishments to your resume by staying a while longer? OR is this effectively a constructive dismissal (something we have in Canada, where changing the job effectively makes it a different role than the one you signed up for)?

    I left a company once, where the part of my role that I had joined to get was taken away while I was on parental leave and given to someone the org was recruiting in another region. They thought I would just come back to a reduced role, until I pointed out that this was constructive dismissal. I was offered another (larger) position, but ended up not taking it for other reasons.

  19. Volunteer Enforcer*

    As someone who was (nearly) in the opposite situation: if I could choose my manager I would in a heartbeat. The person who is my manager has plenty of good points though, and it’s not an indictment of them.

  20. yala*

    Honestly, OP, I think you should look into a counselor. Doesn’t have to be a Psychologist or anything like that, but some kind of professional to sort of talk all these feelings out with, because it sounds like you’ve got a lot of things twisted up inside over this job, and whether you go or stay, you’ll probably feel a lot better if you talk to someone who can help you parse those feelings out.

  21. LawBee*

    This feels like a big reaction about something that is pretty standard. So either something else is going on that LW is unhappy about and it’s coming out in this manner, or LW needs to find some perspective on what seems to just be a reorganization. If CEO and Joseph work a lot together, he probably should have been reporting directly to her all along. Plus LW hasn’t been there even a year yet, and is feeling this way, so I’m leaning towards other things are going on.

    I see people expressing concern about the “hope you stay” language but I don’t see anything there to concern me. CEO is basically saying “this is how it’s going to be, I hope you stay but if you don’t, so be it” – which is reasonable.

    The language that made me raise my eyebrows was LW’s expectation that the CEO would “shut this down” because of LW’s hurt feelings. That phrase is usually applied to poor behavior by employees, not organizational changes.

  22. BananaJam*

    I want to add a voice of validation for OP.

    I disagree with Alison that nobody will see this as a reflection on OP. Sorry, but some people will. I would. The boss is saying, “I can handle this better than you” OR “Joe is so unhappy with you that I am going to let him go around you.”

    As Alison mentioned, there are other non-personal reasons this kind of change can be made. But it’s not unreasonable for people to see it as a sign that OP is doing something wrong.

    If the boss is indulging Joe’s desire to go around OP, that’s bad management. If Joe had issues with OP, boss should have had him address them with OP. The boss showed very little respect for OP by not handling it this way.

    People seem to be giving the boss the benefit of the doubt that this is just an efficiency move, but the boss telling OP that they hope OP will stay on indicates that the boss does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. You don’t say something like that to someone who you respect.

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, OP.

    1. Feral Humanist*

      I would only think that it had something to do with OP if I had a specific reason to think that –– if I knew Joe personally and he’d been complaining at happy hour for the last six months about OP, for example. If I didn’t know anything about the situation, I don’t see why I (or anyone) would jump to such a negative interpretation. And I find some people’s reactions to “I hope you will stay” to be VERY strange. How is this disrespectful? Was the boss supposed to beg OP to stay? Sometimes what we want can’t be accommodated, and in those cases, leaving the job is always on the table. The boss’s words acknowledge that while at the same time expressing hope that the OP will decide to stay.

      1. BananaJam*

        I interpret it negatively because people usually make changes because something is wrong. If everybody stops eating at a restaurant, you don’t think, “Oh, they must have found something different to eat.” You think, “Uh oh, whats wrong with the food?”

        Re: stay. I see it as disrespectful because it comes across as dismissive. “Take it or leave it.” When you care about someone’s feelings or about their opinion (respect), you try to make them feel good. The boss is saying that they aren’t going to do anything to try to make OP feel good. If I’m throwing a pizza party and you tell me that you can’t eat cheese and I say well I hope you come anyway, how do you feel? Do you feel like I really care whether you come to the party? The respectful thing to do would be to try to accommodate you in someway, even if it’s not the way that you want. Maybe the boss can’t have Joe still report to OP but what can they do to make them feel better about their job now that they no longer have this function? Doesn’t seem like the boss cares.

        1. Feral Humanist*

          Sometimes things aren’t wrong, per se, there’s just a way that they might better? Process improvement is a thing, and it doesn’t mean that anyone has done anything wrong –– just that someone decided there was a better way to do it.

          I suspect that the boss has tried to make the OP feel better about the situation, whether or not the OP perceived it that way. They are taking this decision much, MUCH too personally. We aren’t talking about a pizza party; we are talking about running a business. I don’t know about you, but I don’t expect to be accommodated at work in the same way I do in my personal life, nor should I. I certainly don’t expect my boss to sit around soothing my ego and making me feel better about business decisions that just Aren’t About Me.

          1. The Real Fran Fine*

            I don’t know about you, but I don’t expect to be accommodated at work in the same way I do in my personal life, nor should I. I certainly don’t expect my boss to sit around soothing my ego and making me feel better about business decisions that just Aren’t About Me.

            Yes, this! I mean, most businesses in corporate America don’t work this way. I’m just as baffled by the logic in this thread as I am by OP’s emotional response to what’s happened here.

        2. CharlieBrown*

          No, sometimes you make changes because you find a better way.

          If everyone stops eating at Restaurant X, it may not be that there is anything wrong with Restaurant X, it’s just that Restaurant Y has much better food at lower prices.

          1. Feral Humanist*

            This, exactly. Or even just that Restaurant Y is closer, has better parking, and always gives kids crayons to draw with. I would never assume that it’s a problem with Restaurant X’s food unless someone told me it was.

        3. Andy*

          Reporting to two people at the same time is “something wrong” and that is situation Joe was in. Having two different people putting expectations on you while you either do go between or try to fulfill both simply sux.

          It is not great when lower manager accepts CEO meddling and don’t care, but it is royal screw when the lower manager has own ambitions in the area.

        4. Marvel*

          I think your first sentence there is an inaccurate generalization. I’m a manager, and I change things up a lot: refining a good process to be even better, testing if X gets better results than Y, etc. Sometimes change is aimed at solving a problem, yes, but the idea that there must first be a problem in order for there to be a change is fallacious reasoning.

          Honestly, I think you might need to rethink some of your willingness to make assumptions in changes you’re not directly involved in!

    2. Somehow_I_Manage*

      It’s really hard to tell. There are many scenarios at play, and they all hinge on how well we trust the OP to self-evaluate their situation. Which is especially hard, because OP is basically asking us to assess “should I take the CEO at their word, or is there subtext behind this decision I should pick up on?” Or put another way, “Why doesn’t the CEO trust my judgement?” And none of those elements are discernible from the details we have.

    3. ohIdon'tknow*

      This is how I see it too. This change will affect LW’s reputation, and not for the better. Joe is being rewarded for kissing up to the boss, at LW’s expense. I’d be concerned and looking to leave too.

      “…OP that they hope OP will stay on indicates that the boss does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. You don’t say something like that to someone who you respect.” Exactly.

    4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Right. This does read as a demotion to me, and that often comes with a hit to one’s reputation. Is the OP taking it too personally and emotionally? Yes. Is it a big deal for them and their career? Also yes.

  23. Safely Retired*

    My first thought was that Joe’s boss – who asked the question – might be the kind of manager that Joe needed to get out from under to get some relief. The kind that is blind to their own shortcomings. The kind that made Joe a bit desperate to get out from under, whether internally or by leaving. No, I’m not discounting the likelihood that Joe is a back-stabbing climber, just offering a different interpretation.

    1. Andy*

      > No, I’m not discounting the likelihood that Joe is a back-stabbing climber, just offering a different interpretation.

      Seeking own promotion is not backstabbing your manager. The kind of manager that would interpret Joe theoretically seeking own promotion as being backstabbing is the kind of manager to run from.

      I don’t think the letter itself implies that, I am just reacting to interpretation in this comment. Letter writer is focused on own position scope which is fine.

  24. no longer working*

    You said this was a step up for you. Perhaps you are not doing quite as well as the CEO expected at 8 months in, so she is lightening your load a bit, in the hope that you can get to excel at what you do. Possibly she wasn’t being direct when giving you the reason for the change and thought this would soften the blow. Crappy management, if so, but I think it’s a possibility.

  25. L-squared*

    Granted, I’m not a manager. But I can’t see why you are taking this so personally. Even if Joe would rather report to the CEO, if they are fine with it, and its not truly absurd, what is the problem.

    Frankly, this seems like a better solution for everyone. You have, presumably, less work for the same title and pay. Joe gets to report to someone he’d rather report to, and your CEO can continue working on the things they like with Joe.

    You are looking for a problem where there isn’t one.

  26. All Het Up About It*

    I can see being upset for varying reasons, but agree with other that the level of upset might be disproportionate to the situation.

    Part of this is because this could be personal, but not in the way the OP feels is personal. For instance, perhaps the person OP replaced was happy not to have a lot of input into Joe’s work and let the CEO be his de-facto boss, even if that’s not how the job description was. But then when OP was hired, and so excited about Joe’s projects and wanting to become more involved, they messed up the status quo, stressing Joe how because now he really did have two bosses, and leading to him lobbying the CEO to change the structure, because Joe knew the CEO wasn’t going to become less hands off in her pet projects. So it was because of the things OP was doing, but not because OP was doing anything wrong.

    That’s not necessarily what happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if yes, OP was the new stone in the stream. And something happening because of you, but not because you were wrong…that’s a hard line to see, especially when you are in the middle of it all. So I get the emotions in general, but I think do think the OP needs to step back from the catastrophic language of “betrayal”, etc. Because that’s taking it to a personal level that at this point in time they’ve provided no evidence of.

  27. Temperance*

    It sounds to me like the change in reporting structure might have been a big promotion for Joe; he’s now reporting directly to #1, and OP lost part of her team in the process. It now sounds like he’s a peer vs. her subordinate.

        1. CharlieBrown*

          I don’t get this at all. OP’s boss changed part of the reporting structure of their department. That is all that happened. There’s no proof in the letter that Joe did any backstabbing, nor that he has half of OP’s job.

          OP’s boss removed a level of bureaucracy and made the department more efficient. This is why OP’s boss is the boss, and not OP.

          It seems like OP is not the only one that is over-reacting.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I agree. To the comment below there’s also no evidence he brown-nosed or poached. This is very antagonistic without cause.

          2. The Real Fran Fine*

            Many people in the comments on this one are being just as dramatic as the OP with even less evidence than the OP has to back it up, lol. We’re getting into fan fiction territory with some of these responses.

        2. L-squared*

          Backstabbed? I feel like that is a bit much.

          Its very possible that he didn’t like her, didn’t like working for her, or just felt it would be easier to report to the CEO. None of that falls under backstabbing.

          It also doesn’t sound like he took any of her job. He is still doing the same job he was doing before, just not having OP between him and the CEO

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            MAYBE if this is a highly hierarchical organization and this kind of level-jumping is way outside the norm I can see the argument that he at least elbowed OP out, assuming the reason was he didn’t like her or like working for her. But ultimately the CEO is the one to decide what’s appropriate for the organization so I find even that argument weak.

          1. mw*

            Joe didn’t even asked for any of that. He asked to skip a middle person. Joe still has the exact same responsibilities.

          2. mw*

            Joe didn’t even ask for any of that. He asked to skip a middle person. Joe still has the exact same responsibilities.

        3. mw*

          1/3 of her job. She managed 3 managers. Everything I take from the letter is that the OP is a middle manager. If I was in Joe’s position, I’d probably do the same thing. Sounds like he saw that his work was more directly involved with the CEO, so why have another layer of red tape to go through. The OP stated that Joe was already working more directly with the CEO before the CEO starting taking over her tasks.

          On a different note, I wonder if the OP isn’t worried that the CEO realizing that it’s more efficient to report to the CEO, it might mean that the OP’s position might be in jeopardy of being eliminated? No need for a middle manager, just let the heads of the departments led their departments and report to the top.

          1. The Real Fran Fine*

            I think your last paragraph may actually be the crux of OP’s real concern that just wasn’t articulated very well in this letter. If that’s the case, when OP takes a beat like Alison suggested and cools off, I’d suggest going to the CEO and expressing this concern to seek clarification around this.

        1. L-squared*

          How are people getting that he took her job.

          It sounds like his job is still the same, just has a level of management above him removed. He was already a manager, and he is still managing others. He just isn’t reporting to her. That to me isn’t taking his job.

          And I think brown nosing is a harsh way to put it, but even if he did curry favor with the CEO, I’m not seeing how that is wrong.

          1. The Real Fran Fine*

            How are people getting that he took her job.

            People read a lot into these letters and start reading into things that don’t even exist on the page. You are absolutely correct – Joe was not promoted, he already managed a team, he will continue to manage the same team he already had, he just won’t be reporting to both OP and the CEO anymore. That’s it. That’s normal and a much more streamlined approach.

            1. Parakeet*

              Yeah, reading the comments to this one, I think people (across the range of opinions) are projecting their own workplace cultures, reading it through the lens of superficially similar occurrences in their own workplaces in order to fill in the missing details that would allow for a more grounded interpretation. Which is understandable! Of course people are most familiar with the contexts they’ve actually experienced! But that doesn’t mean that the OP’s context is similar to theirs, or that whatever details they semi-automatically filled in based on their own context, are the case here.

  28. Somehow_I_Manage*

    I have so many more questions than answers from the OP’s letter!

    There is no WAY to objectively tell whether OP has been treated well or badly. Despite this, I think OP should remember that whether the CEO is good or bad, the CEO is the CEO and what they say goes and that structure will never change. OP, if you gave great advice and the CEO is acting against the best interest of the business, then that’s a red flag. However, the letter suggests to me that instead, this is a case of OP’s boss acting against OP’s best interest. Which is still a problem for you, but when you report to the CEO, they have to balance politics. They’ve decided that this is better for the business, and in exchange have offered you the opportunity to stay on at the same salary with fewer responsibilities.

  29. Velveeta v. Cheddar*

    I feel for the OP and I think the dozens of comments here help uncover some of the nuance and strategies that the OP may wish to take to move forward.

    Just to add my 2 cents, this situation happened to me as well, and (maybe this happened here?) what I found out after many months in this type of role was that the CEO and “Joe” in my case were very buddy-buddy, went out drinking together, and acted more like friends than colleagues, but a mid-level person needed to manage Joe on paper but not in reality nor anywhere other than the actual org chart. In my case “Joe” would be outwardly antagonistic towards me too whenever I was trying to manage him as part of my team.

    Hang in there OP and see / ask what is best for yourself…. in my case I eventually left (that was just one of the reasons) and I think it’s great that you put it on the record that you disagree, so I would see what else is out there (but I concur, it’s not easy to hunt again when you just found something)… sending overall good vibes to you.

  30. Emma*

    I’m sorry this is happening to you OP! I had the same happen to me a few weeks back and I am still angry, hurt, discouraged and disappointed. I also felt betrayed, because my boss should have had my back, right? Not promoted my employee and bypassed me.

    I also got the “I hope you choose to stay” comment. Which is so condescending. I will stay though, for the time being, till I find a better opportunity. I will not be pushed out and hurry to take any job, but my long term plans are no longer with my company and I have zero trust in my boss now.

    I completely understand your feelings. However, we are likely both way too emotionally attached to our jobs/careers and need to disengage. They obviously see us differently. And my advice to you, and to myself, is to from now on treat this as a job that gives you a salary, not a role you would go above and beyond for.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I totally agree that I would feel betrayed if my own staff member felt so strongly about not being able to grow that they went directly over my head to seek a promotion. But I’d be reeling with self-doubt if they were successful in this approach. Because…if my staff member really was qualified and ready to move up and were able to demonstrate that, why wasn’t I playing my part and championing their advancement? Assuming they are not qualified, why didn’t my boss seek my counsel? Also, to be clear, this is all hypothetical and for discussion purposes- I don’t pretend to know your individual situation, I am simply jumping off from there.

      One of the things I think a lot about is that my charge as a manager is to advocate for and create opportunities for my own staff. I really can’t think of anything more satisfying than helping my own team member get promoted and helping them outgrow my mentorship and get promoted equal to or beyond me. I try to remember that it’s not my job to be a gatekeeper at that level. If they want to go for it, it’s my job to help them find a way to make it happen.

      1. mw*

        The person in the letter, “Joe,” didn’t ask for a promotion, they didn’t ask for more responsibility. The only part of Joe’s job that changed was who they reported to. It changed the organizational chart, but it doesn’t mean that Joe and OP are equals now. Joe is still one level below OP.

    2. J.B.*

      I’m in a similar situation right now where my boss is making decisions that previously had my input and that may not be possible to implement now in the way she wants. She’s the boss, it’s her call, but I can’t keep working as hard as I have been and need to move because nothing structural is likely to get better.

  31. Knope Knope Knope*

    I have been through something very similar so I get where OP is coming from. It stings and I totally understand how it feels like your personal career growth will be hampered. I also felt like it imposed a pretty clear ceiling on my growth and that sparked me to leave. Let’s say I oversaw A,B and C for the business and C was reorged out from under me. I took everything I learned about C and looked for jobs where I knew that was a core function of the role. I took a lot of my own time to take classes, read, and basically become a student of C. I was very honest about my level experience with C. In my new job, I do a lot of C and also not as much as I had hoped, but it was far from a career-ender. I am on the precipice of my second promotion here. Ultimately I determined the reorg was in part due to the company being poorly run and in part perhaps they promoted me too soon. I think with more managerial support it could have been fine but there was too much BS going on there to focus on me haha. I am thriving at a better company with a better manager where I always feel challeneged and my espertise is respected.

  32. Goldenrod*

    I feel that maybe OP is taking this too personally – that is, as a personal slight – rather than a reorganization that makes sense in terms of the work.

    But also – if changing the reporting structure diminishes her job, she may have fewer opportunities to grow in the role, which could be a concern that it would be smart to consider now (before she invests too much in this job).

    One factor that I think is important is – can OP’s job grow in other ways? Is there a potential for it to be equally satisfying and for the job to develop in other enhancing ways?

    If not, maybe looking for other opportunities makes sense. The beauty part is that OP will still have the same title and salary – which will help when negotiating her next role (i.e. this won’t look like a demotion to anyone).

    I agree with Alison that it is important to get past the emotion first, though, before making any moves! This is a situation to assess in a clear-eyed, logical way, because it really doesn’t sound to me like this was intended as a personal slight in any way.

  33. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I’ll be honest, it sounds like Joe lobbied for this change and that Joe is unhappy with something about the OP – it might just be the things others mentioned, 2 bosses are hard, OP’s boss knows his area better. But it also might be that Joe is unhappy with the OP’s management style. This might be more about Joe, or it might be something the OP could address.

    I’m surprised Alison did not mention the OP talking to her boss about areas the OP might look to develop in her management.

    1. mw*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe wasn’t bringing it up before the OP started and was trying to get it changed beforehand.

  34. Justin*

    I work in a large department in a very large company. This stuff happens all the time and I don’t think about of it is even remotely personal. In fact sometimes it’s done to relieve an overburdened person.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The structure of the company is another detail I think would be very helpful. Even in my small company I don’t think this would be egregious but I think culture, structure, and norms play a role in how offensive it is or isn’t. I lean towards OP is taking it too personally or overreacting – to Alison’s point, feelings really shouldn’t drive choices like this – but environment could impact WHY OP is reacting so strongly.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That would resolve a lot of problems that we hear about, unfortunately that’s not always realistic.

      1. mw*

        That seems to be the common theme in most of the update letters here.

        It doesn’t actually solve or address the issues at hand. The person leaves, making their lives better, but the actual issue never gets corrected.

  35. Teri_Anne*

    I wonder if this is an example of “quiet firing”, when a manager deliberately makes an employee miserable enough to quit so that the company can avoid the inconvenience of actually firing them. The employer also avoids paying severance and unemployment compensation. Quiet firing tactics include frustrating the employee with vague feedback, not inviting them to meetings they should attend, and overloading them with work. This happened to me.

    Alison has given good advice on how to handle the situation. I suspect that unfortunately the LW may need to look for a new job. Alison’s advice may help the LW to hang on until she finds a new job.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “Quiet firing” is SO much more a real thing than quiet quitting!! I have seen that happen MANY times in various workplaces….It’s so unfair!

      I don’t think this is necessarily what is happening here though…..

  36. Somehow_I_Manage*

    I think that’s what LW is grappling with- in fact, the letter is written to invite agreement with that perspective. There’s certainly some smoke- the job has been changed from the one she interviewed for, and specifically in a way that reduces her relevance to the company. But there’s lots of other information in there that suggests otherwise:

    “My boss is very involved in Joe’s work because she likes it”

    “From her perspective, this is a minor adjustment that I should not be upset about. My title and salary are not changing”

    “I know he had been requesting this change almost since I first arrived”

    There’s enough in there to open reasonable doubt that this move has much to do with OP at all. If it was meant to be seen as a signal that they are not wanted there are more intentional ways to do so (e.g., adjusting title, giving personal feedback, etc.).

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      When you pull out the statements like that it does make it feel like maybe this was done as a reward or incentive to Joe, to give him something he asked for, and less like it has anything to do with OP or their performance.

  37. Anony445*

    I’m going to explain it from Joe’s POV bc I was in Joe’s exact position once. I was currently reporting to a manager for many years and when our company underwent a restructure, I requested to report directly to my manager’s boss and my main reason was for career growth. I felt that I outgrew my position and wanted to be challenged more and felt that reporting to higher-up would help me in my career. I had nothing against my manager but of course, my manager (like you) felt outraged and hesitant about it. So it could be that Joe wanted to report to a CEO for the very same reason I did… career growth. Maybe he didn’t felt challenged under you which is fine, bc some people really do work better with others and it might not have anything to do with your work, but maybe Joe finds your CEO a better mentor. If there was something wrong in your work, I’m sure your CEO would have brought it up to you by now so don’t take thing personally and take it as you getting away with a lighter workload for the same pay.

  38. El l*

    Only thing I’ll add to Alison’s excellent answer are these “sounds like” observations:

    Sounds like you basically played it right. You asked if a change in reporting structure made sense, raised your objections – and then you lost the argument with the only judge who counted. It was their call.

    Sounds like it’s not a comment on your competence – but rather on your boss’ interests. For better or worse, it’s their workload, and reporting structures are ultimately their responsibility.

    Sounds like they could see how you might regard this as potentially undermining, hence the comment about hoping you’ll stay. Which also sounds like it’s genuine.

    Finally, it really doesn’t sound like it’s personal or in any way directed at you. That isn’t dispositive whether you leave or not – sometimes people just can’t work together anymore – but is why you need to be as objective as you can before deciding to leave.

  39. Starling*

    *Maybe* this is because of some weakness in OP’s management. But I’ve seen this happen a lot just because OP’s sections are growing and becoming complex and some of it needs to be spun off – that’s a good thing! Yay, you!
    We don’t know either way, but choosing to be hurt by this will make your whole job miserable. If you can see this as a neutral or positive pivot, great! The change is not obviously your fault. But if it will bother you no matter, you might be better off looking around and having a fresh start.

  40. GeorgeFayne*

    If someone asked me to wash the dishes, I would be ready to wash the dishes. But then if I arrived at the sink to find out that there was no dish soap, no water, and the dirty dishes were all locked in a cabinet – I would find it difficult to wash the dishes. I would ask for access to the soap and water, and to be allowed to interact with the dishes – but then would be told the dishes did not want to interact with me and I didn’t need soap or water. I would feel exasperated at that point. If then the person who asked me to wash them in the first place came to me (after all of that) and announced THEY would now be washing the dishes since it makes more sense, I would be frustrated. I was not given the tools or access to complete the task at hand and taking the task away after offering several roadblocks would not be seen (by me) as a gift or even a neutral expression.

    I understand why OP is frustrated and worried about what this might mean for their future in this role. I can also see how the CEO doesn’t view any of this situation this way at all. “Joe works well and closely with me”, “Joe doesn’t seem to enjoy OP’s management”, “I enjoy this work” – it’s an easy step to move Joe to a position where Joe and the CEO are content while ostensibly taking some work off of OP.

    This letter, like all of them, is subjective and we only know what the OP is telling us. We don’t know if OP has been begging the CEO to take some responsibility off their plate, but they actually meant “Not Joe’s team! I wanted that one!”. We don’t know if Joe wanted OP’s role and this is a knee-jerk reaction from him to not interact with whoever would have been in that role.

    But I have seen a lot of very dispassionate responses that OP should not take it personally, and I agree that their reaction was incredibly emotional – but it is easy to see how this situation would be frustrating and make a person feel like they are spinning their wheels without getting anywhere. Not to diagnose anything, but if OP has any history with a toxic workplace or family issues this can be compounded a lot – the feeling that “I wasn’t even given a chance to try to succeed before you decided that I have failed”. It’s a difficult feeling to process and work through and it’s not uncommon to struggle with this. Best of luck, OP, with whatever you decide to do moving forward.

    1. Forgot my name again*

      “I wasn’t even given a chance to try to succeed before you decided that I have failed” was the sense I got from this letter too.

      I can’t say I can be confident about my reading of the situation at all, but I was quite surprised at the vast majority of the commentariat saying “welp, that’s business, you shouldn’t take it personally”. Maybe so, maybe not. There are lots of places where a job is not “just a job” and it’s hard to separate feelings of self-worth and identity from the paycheck, so I do sympathise. I felt similar when I was furloughed as a money-saving measure despite a) being able to WFH, b) being the only one doing specific work and c) that specific work being time-limited and not actually stopping during lockdown.

      That said, the emotionally charged language makes it hard to read the letter objectively, so I think the OP would do themselves a service to try and be a bit more dispassionate in their view of the situation in order to see what the root of the problem is (is it how it was handled? is it not being able to gain experience in Joe’s area?) and whether it’s solvable, negotiable/compromisable or time to jobhunt.

  41. Michelle Smith*

    I know you may really not *want* to job hunt again so soon, but it sounds warranted. I wish you luck.

  42. anonforthis1*

    So I have been Joe, and I have been the CEO. In my first big job, the CEO moved my role out from under a VP and had me reporting directly into him. The reason was the project I was leading was of significant institutional importance, had the attention of the Board, required his significant personal involvement, and eclipsed by manyfold the size of the other projects managed by the VP. It was hard to work for two bosses, and it was inefficient to route everything through the VP. In that role, I eventually became a VP and my old boss became my peer. My old boss actually requested I be moved directly to report to the CEO and she celebrated my promotion. She did very well at that organization and the change in report was not a reflection of her. I am now a CEO, and I am doing this right now because there is a similar project that is important for the organization, important to the Board, and is led by someone reporting into a VP. I secured the support of the VP before making this move, and she understood why. I would encourage you to think about why your boss is doing and frame any objection within the context of why it is hurtful to the organization as opposed to you personally. Neither here nor there it sounds like the CEO’s mind is made up and if you plan to stay, you’ll need to find a way to externally support the change. Good luck.

  43. Sharon*

    I’d focus less on the number of people you manage and more on the type of work you want to do. For example, if you took the job to get coffeepot experience, and you are now back to working only on teapots, you might want to ask your manager if there are coffeepot projects you can work on. But otherwise I wouldn’t get too excited about whether you have two direct reports or three.

  44. Anon for this*

    I’ve also been Joe. My reasons for pushing to report to the CEO instead of the department director echo many of the reasons mentioned by others above, namely:

    1. Career growth – I had hit the ceiling, where the next level up was my boss’s position. There was no way for me to continue growing under him, so I had to get out from underneath him.

    2. Efficiency – my director was more of a middle man who provided little input on my projects. It was much more efficient to just work directly with the CEO.

    3. Organizational growth – my area of responsibility could be its own separate team, and it was an area that the company was looking to grow over the next few years, so establishing it as its own team now would position it for that growth.

    4. Poor manager performance – my boss was not providing me with the direction and feedback I needed to succeed. He badly needed coaching on many essential functions, including decision making, delegation, establishing clear roles & responsibilities, strategic planning, etc. I didn’t say any of this when I pushed to report to the CEO instead, I couched my request in mostly #2 and #3 above, but honestly this was the driving factor. I was the only manager senior enough to attempt this gambit; the 2 other managers on the team resigned instead.

    tl;dr Sometimes a move like Joe’s has nothing to do with you, and sometimes it does.

  45. Chi*

    To the OP – this situation happened in my job, not to me but to people around me. An employee was taken from my manager and now reports to our director, my manager’s manager. Supposedly though, the employer is still part of our team, and yet has been doing different projects than we are, when previously that was not the case.

    The director claimed it is simply a reporting change because they needed x number of employees reporting to them but it really makes no sense to me, and so I do think it is a reflection on the manager.

    I can understand why you would take this personally. I do hope you are able to make the best decision for you. If I were you, I would probably not feel like I could trust the CEO or Joe, and I would be looking to move on.

  46. CLC*

    I really don’t understand what the problem is here. There was no performance issue (assuming the CEO is a halfway decent manager who would tell her report if there was). If the LW was really set on getting into the stuff Joe works on, then fine, if that’s not available anymore they might want to get a new job. But I don’t understand why they feel so personally slighted and “betrayed” or why it will be embarrassing when others hear about it. It seems odd that someone who has made it to a leadership position would have this response unless there is something they failed to include in the letter.

  47. New Jack Karyn*

    I think others have addressed the emotional response pretty thoroughly. The reorg part and its potential fallout, too. But I wonder if OP missed a move somewhere.

    OP, did you address the part where you were not given Joe projects, when it was a major reason for you taking this job? This seems like a conversation with the CEO. Be plain that you took the role partly in order to develop those skills. Did you ever discuss with Joe why he wanted to change the org chart? This also sounds like it would have been a worthwhile talk, or series of talks. You were both unhappy with how things stood, but I’m not sure what actions you took to resolve the issues.

    Maybe you did! I know letter writers have to keep details & background to a minimum.

  48. M. from P.*

    Somehow I read this as “Joe routinely went over my head as my employee because he preferred to work directly with the CEO. The CEO liked Joe personally and I felt routinely undermined as Joe’s manager by the CEO. Now there’s been a reorg and I was notified after the fact so I learned about it after Joe had. This feels like a demotion and I am humilated by the whole experience”.

  49. Former Employee*

    “The reason my boss gave is that Joe works more frequently with her, and Joe prefers to report to the CEO instead of me.”

    Since when does an employee get to decide to whom they report? Whether the CEO is just enjoying being involved in this area of work as the LW mentioned or there is something else going on, the whole thing seems to have been mishandled by the CEO.

    If I were in the LW’s position, I would wait until I calmed down and then start checking to see what’s out there. The LW has to be able to seem matter of fact when they answer the question about why they are leaving their current job, which should be something along the lines of it was a good fit when they started, but after some organizational changes were implemented the job was different enough that they felt it was time to look for something more suitable.

    I wish this LW the best of luck in their career.

    1. L-squared*

      I mean, depending on the person and their job, I don’t think asking to be assigned to a different manager is some out of bounds thing.

      But I can easily see a situation where the head of sales currently reports to the COO, but for various reasons, thinks it makes more sense to report to the CEO, or even CFO. If a good enough argument is made, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be approved.

    2. mw*

      The second part of that comment would be more concerning if the first part wasn’t there. The first part suggests that the projects Joe is heading up involve working with the CEO directly.

      It doesn’t make a lot of sense for Joe to work that closely with the CEO, then report back to the LW, then the LW to report back to the CEO on what is happening on the project, then the CEO gives guidance to LW, who has to relay that back to Joe, who then continues working with the CEO. Seems kind of obviously to cut out the detour of going through the LW and just use the direct route.

  50. cncx*

    I once worked at a company where a high performer made it a condition of her staying at the company to report to her grandboss instead of her boss for legacy political reasons (she was brought in at x level, her old c suite boss left, and after a reorg was x-1 on the org chart). no one’s jobs changed but it was her hill to die on.

    So i kind of read this story through that experience and figured Joe did something like that.

    That said i had something taken away from me in literally December of last year and it *still* stings so i am feeling OP. Even when there are solid (or allegedy solid, in my case) business reasons for doing so but no one’s pay grade or bottom line is affected, it hurts. I can understand the OTT emotional response because i lowkey still have it.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I can totally relate to OP’s response too, but I kinda feel that it’s something you just have to deal with unless Joe reporting straight to her boss means she is undermined, by not being kept in the loop and thus doing things wrong further down the line because of that.

  51. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    I feel like this could have been written by a colleague of mine a while back. There was D, whose life work was some software that we used at work and also sold to other companies in the same industry. And there was B, who was in Sales but hated it. After pulling off a few huge successes, B was the boss’s Golden Girl, and successfully campaigned to move from sales to production, as Head of Technical Development no less.
    The move made no sense: the Sales Department never recovered from her leaving it, and she knew nothing of programming.
    D had spent his entire career coding for this software, and mostly doing it as he felt like it, with suggestions from his father who was the first to use it. After his father died, he sold the company, because they needed more capital to be able to invest and improve the product. He was prepared to take orders from the new boss, but the addition of B as Head of Technical Development, when she knew nothing of the issues apart from what he had explained to her, was hard to swallow.
    With the extra capital, they hired two more software engineers, one to work on an all-new project, and the other to work directly with D, learning his stuff on a basis of somebody needing to be able to replace him if he were run over by a bus.
    D did all he could to prevent the new hire from learning anything. He had already mastered the art of producing convoluted code that only he could understand, and took it to new levels to baffle the new hire. B couldn’t get him to cooperate, because he was convinced that they wanted to get rid of him as soon as the new hire was operational.
    One of the new bosses often circumvented B, going straight to D with questions about how easy something would be, and whether he’d managed to iron out this or that bug. D got mad every time, but the fact is that it was far quicker to go straight to D.
    The boss she reported to insisted on everyone going through her, and told D to take orders from her. As a result, D started dragging his feet on stuff she asked of him, especially anything involving the new hire, to the point that the new hire left for better pastures, while D actually started working on a completely different project for a different firm, without even telling her.
    (Did I tell you B was sleeping with her manager?)
    TL/DR: the company lost its top software developer because the boss insisted on someone who knew nothing of coding to be his manager, and didn’t manage to retain the guy hired to second him either. The company is now a laughing stock across the industry.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      And B ended up retraining in a completely different industry after that fiasco, realising that she totally blew it.

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