Your Office Coach: Emphasize the positive when requesting transfer

I would like to take a job in my company’s training department.
Training is the

big thing

in our organization this year, and I want to be a part of it.
The director of training has encouraged me to transfer, but my
boss, who is the head of operations, does not like the idea.
Q:

I would like to take a job in my company’s training department. Training is the “big thing” in our organization this year, and I want to be a part of it. The director of training has encouraged me to transfer, but my boss, who is the head of operations, does not like the idea.

I am the operations manager for our largest office, so he doesn’t want to lose me. However, my staff is very knowledgeable and self-sufficient, so I’m sure they can handle my leaving. My boss can’t block this move, but I don’t want to leave with hard feelings. What should I do?

A:

To avoid burning any bridges with your boss, make it clear that you are pursuing a valuable career opportunity, not trying to escape his organization. Even the most understanding manager can feel slightly betrayed when someone requests a transfer out.

Emphasize that this training position will allow you to learn new skills and tackle new challenges. You should also describe how your operational experience will benefit the company’s training effort.

For example: “As part of my career plan, I would like to spend time in a role where I can focus on developing and mentoring people. Also, my experience in operations has given me a real-world perspective that will help to make our training programs more practical and useful.”

Finally, assure your manager that you will strive to make your departure as painless as possible. Present him with a possible transition plan, and explain how any major issues can be handled by your experienced employees. If you can recommend one of them as your replacement, that might just seal the deal.

Q:

Some members of my staff have told me that people think I’m mean. One of them accused me of never even having a direct conversation with her. Another one said that employees gossip about me every day.

I believe that instead of listening to rumors and hearsay, these people should develop their own opinions about me. What do you think?

A:

I think you need to figure out exactly what is bothering your employees. Do they dislike your decisions and policies? Are they uncomfortable with your communication style? Since a few of these disgruntled folks seem unusually willing to provide feedback, ask them for a more specific description of the problem.

For example: “Although I understand that some people describe me as ‘mean,’ I really don’t know what I’m doing to create that impression. In the future, what could I do differently that might change their opinion of me?”

Actually, one employee may have already provided a clue. She apparently feels that she has never had a real conversation with you, which seems to suggest that you should invest more time in developing relationships. If you want people to ignore the rumor mill, you will have to interact with them.

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