My column, Workplace Referee, is designed to help employees and managers gain better insight into each other's point of view (POV). Have a situation you'd like me to address? Please submit it by email here. Don't worry, I'll keep your identity private.

Should I Tell My Boss I Want A Different Job?

Employee POV: I've been working at my company for two years. I like it very much. My boss is a good guy. However, 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. Therefore, 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.

Who's at fault?

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 - forcing the boss to have to train someone new all over again. 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.

What can both sides learn from this?

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, sit down and ask if together you can build a gameplan 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. Consider what could be achieved if the two of you work together? i.e. 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. Career pathing is an important part of your role as the manager. Helping each employee see what their future looks like at the company, and tailoring their journey to support 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 on-going mission to develop the people who work for them. Why not be one of them?

Published on: Feb 23, 2017
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