DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was in my previous job for almost seven years, working under a boss who wasn’t the best. He was temperamental, and told me I was “too smart to promote” despite years of loyal service. When COVID hit, an opportunity came my way to move into a new role and a new department within the company.
I asked the hiring manager multiple times when I should notify my boss, and was either brushed off or told that she would approach him at the right time. I didn’t push because I knew it wasn’t guaranteed that I would get the job, and conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t notify your boss when you are interviewing.
I got the offer (yay!) but the next morning found out my old team was going to be restructured, which ultimately meant people would be laid off. Not wanting to look like I was bragging about my luck, I didn’t tell a lot of people on the team about my new role.
I later found out that no one ever contacted my boss, and he found out at the same time he learned of the restructure/layoff. He’s not big on confrontation, but told other co-workers that his feelings were hurt.
Now I’m unsure how to address this. He’s the first manager I’ve had since graduating from college, so I imagine I’ll need him as a reference at some point. I also feel I owe him a bit of loyalty for taking a chance on me. I worry about the impact this may have on my professional relationship.
I work in a Midwestern city that operates like a small town. What do you think? Is it worth it to try and reach out? If so, how do I handle this situation?
GENTLE READER: One of the unpleasant, but unavoidable, requirements of leaving a job is telling the boss that you are going. (If you are enjoying this step, you are probably not doing it right. Telling your boss that he was a pig and you can’t wait to see the department explode after you leave may be momentarily gratifying, but will come back to haunt you.)
Miss Manners does not make an exception for moves within a company -- or for an inattentive hiring manager who foolishly promised to relieve you of the burden. Fortunately, this can be fixed. Tell your boss that you appreciate his taking a chance on you when you were just starting out; that you will always benefit from what you learned working for him; and that you want to apologize for not saying something to him at the time.
Then flatter him: You are, as he knows, inexperienced in changing jobs, and it was painful to think that you might be disappointing him. If you do this right, whatever recommendation you eventually get from him may even be better than the one he would have written if you had given him fair warning.