Ask Matt: Why is my boss sabotaging my career?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE
  • Updated: May 5, 2014 - 9:48 AM

Dear Matt: I feel my boss is sabotaging my desire to seek an internal transfer by not supporting or recommending me when I want to switch roles. I want to stay, but I’m ready to leave the company because of this. Do you have any advice on how I can handle this situation?

Matt says: There’s nothing more deflating than feeling like your boss isn’t supporting your career goals, says Jena Brown, a Twin Cities-based recruiting operations and brand strategist.

It’s important to know your company’s internal transfer policies, eligibility and expectations. Most companies, especially large ones, have internal guidelines that need to be followed. Eligibility typically surrounds your performance reviews and whether or not leaving the role will compromise the company. For example, if you’re leading a major implementation project that’s about to go live, it’s probably not in the best interest of the company to transfer you before the roll out.

While an official recommendation may not be required by your immediate manager, it’s not uncommon to need the approval of a career manager — your boss — to make the internal move. “It’s a courtesy to the current manager since she will have to backfill you, which will no doubt cause a disruption on her team,” says Brown.

The next step would be to talk directly with your manager about your career goals and aspirations. This doesn’t have to be done only at performance review times; quarterly meetings discussing projects, new skills or areas of improvement to focus on can help your career path and help your manager understand what you have done and where you want to go. Some managers are so busy they might not realize all the contributions you’ve made to the team.

“If it truly is just a poor working relationship, an open conversation might help make you understand what is happening and why,” says Christy Nichols, a Twin Cities-based senior talent acquisition consultant. “If that’s been done or it’s just not possible, this would be the time to enlist your human resources manager” — who will likely want to meet with you and the manager separately, but should be able to act as a mediator. Raise your concerns and make sure you truly understand the company’s internal transfer policies, while also providing examples of how you feel your boss is not helping you succeed. Do some homework: Have others experienced similar situations with this manager? If so, it might be a trend that your company needs to address through leadership training.

“In the end, it’s up to you to own your career,” says Brown. “While you may end up leaving the company, you owe it to yourself to do what you can to make it work so you can leave knowing you left no stone unturned.”

Contact Matt at jobslink@startribune.com.

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