Should I tell my boss I’m ready to move on?
Employee POV: I’ve been working at my company for two years. My boss is a good guy, but it’s become clear to me there is no upward mobility in his department. I’m very driven and want to keep my career moving forward, so I want to start applying to jobs in other divisions of the company.
I just don’t know if I should tell him or not.
Manager POV: My employee is doing a great job. He’s been here for two years and all the training is finally paying off. I think another couple of years and he’ll be ready for a bigger role, because he still has a lot to learn. I sense he thinks he’s ready for bigger challenges, but he’s not. I’ve tried to explain the need to “pay your dues” at our organization, but he just smiles at me.
I hope he doesn’t decide to leave and take a new job, but I can’t stop him if he doesn’t realize he’s not ready yet.
Analysis: This is one of those common miscommunication scenarios I see all the time in employee-employer relationships. The employee is getting bored and wants a new challenge. Meanwhile, the manager would like to get some return on his training investment by having the employee deliver consistent results for a couple of years before moving on to a bigger role.
What can be done when the employee wants more, while the boss wants what he feels is owed him? It all comes down to managing expectations.
In this situation, I would advise each side as follows:
Employee takeaway: Instead of telling your boss you want to look for a new job in the company, ask if together you can build a game plan over the next year or so to get you promoted. You may not think there is any upward mobility in your current department, but your boss knows more than you about where the business is going.
You might both get promoted if you build the right strategy and execute it as a team.
Manager takeaway: Don’t let the talent you worked so hard to develop walk away. Sit down with your employee and discuss how you can help him get ahead in the next two years.
Helping each employee see what their future looks like at the company and supporting their personal and professional goals is the best way to get the loyalty you desire. There are numerous studies that show employees stick with managers who make it their ongoing mission to develop the people who work for them. Why not be one of them?
The Workplace Referee column is designed to help employees and managers gain better insight into each other’s points of view. You can submit questions to email@example.com. Identities will be kept confidential.