The people you work with can make or break a job. Having a team around you that you gel with, that you can collaborate with and feel supported by is key to job satisfaction and this includes your management team and your relationship with your line manager.
Being managed by someone with a management style that clashes with the way you work, is micromanaging you, or by someone who doesn’t give you the autonomy and trust to do your job properly can be extremely stressful and can make being at work an unhappy time. If you have found yourself in this situation, let us guide you through how to improve your situation by requesting a move within the company without ruining your relationship with management.
When to request a new manager
If you’re trying to deal with a bad boss and your relationship with them is making your work life miserable, it’s time to think about requesting a new manager. In a large organization with multiple teams, this might be an easy move to make, whereas different jobs, such as those in a smaller company with fewer people at each level of management, might be a trickier move given the logistics. However, it is worth investigating if you are unhappy.
Before making a request for a new manager, make sure you’ve done all you can to try to make your situation work. Good communication is essential, so before requesting a new manager, speak to your manager and discuss what is making you unhappy. See if there are any changes that can be implemented to improve your work day. This may be looking at taking on more responsibility, being able to work more autonomously, looking into flexible working, or addressing any issues that have arisen.
Once you feel you have done all you can to make your work situation work and the problems persist, this is the time to go to HR to request a new manager.
When to request a department transfer
If requesting a change of manager hasn’t improved your situation, you may consider moving departments. If the issues between your manager and you mean that simply being in their office or team, even if you’re not managed by them, is affecting your wellbeing, a department transfer may be an option.
This may also be necessary if the management structure doesn’t allow you to change manager and stay within the area you are working in. This is most likely in a smaller company where there are fewer managers at each level.
Moving department may also be a welcome change, not just in terms of management but in terms of learning something new, putting your skills into a different area and having a completely fresh start. This can be a positive way of selling your move.
Tips for requesting a new manager
When requesting a new manager, it is essential that you go about it in a way so that it doesn’t appear that you are being fussy or petty and so that the issues you have and the way it is affecting your time at work are addressed — but it needs to be done in a professional way. Here are some tips for requesting a new manager at work.
1. Speak to your manager
Communication is vital, and before you request a move, you need to speak to your manager to see if any changes can be made and to keep them informed of your intentions to move. It cannot come as a surprise to them that you’re requesting a new manager; you must have allowed them the chance to make changes.
2. Consider your options
If you have exhausted all avenues with your manager and any attempts at improvements have not been successful, take some time to consider your options. Is moving managers a viable option in the company you work for? Are there other managers with the capacity and skills to manage someone in your role? Would a potential move to another manager mean transferring to a new department, or even a new location? These are important things to consider in order to weigh up whether a move is worth it, along with looking at options within a new company.
3. Speak to HR
If you have decided you need to move and have considered your options, it’s time to arrange a meeting with HR to discuss your options and to talk to them about the reasons why you are unhappy with your current management arrangement. Come armed with examples, specific instances and valid reasons for your move, rather than being vague about your feelings. It’s also important to show HR that a move will be in the company’s best interests too by outlining what you feel you can bring to a new team.
4. Keep notes
In order to help you approach HR with valid examples and experiences leading to your need to move, keep notes of things that have made you unhappy, conversations that you feel have been unacceptable, and anything else that you can use in your argument for a change in management.
5. Don’t gossip
Whilst all the is going on, it’s important to make sure you remain professional at all times and don’t gossip to coworkers. The processes that you are going through with management and HR are personal and don’t need to be the topic of office conversation. Remain professional and don’t let office politics become a factor.
6. Don’t bad mouth
As important as not gossiping is not showing negativity towards your manager by badmouthing their methods or behavior, either to coworkers or in discussions with HR. This won’t help your situation. Instead, it could make it look as though you are the problem. Always remain professional and state any grievances with information to back up your claims.
7. Follow procedures
Working under a manager that you are having issues with isn’t nice, but it’s important that you follow procedures outlined by the company and HR for your potential move. This might involve employment tribunals, grievances and lots of meetings. Stick with it and remain positive and professional.
8. Keep up with your work
Don’t let your work suffer during this period. It might be stressful, but remember you are doing it to be happy in your career and you want to show potential managers and HR what skills you have and demonstrate why they want you on their team. For this reason, it’s important that your work remains a priority.
9. Maintain professional relationships
The process of moving to a new team or manager is stressful, and can be emotional, too. It’s important to be able to remain professional and even if there is bad feeling, to be able to let go and move on for the good of the team and to eventually ease bad relationships. When you have moved, there is a good chance you will have to still see your old manager and you can’t let your feelings stop you from doing your best job.
10. Put yourself first
Moving managers may cause upset to other members of the team, and to your manager. It’s hard to come out and say that you’re not happy when you know that it is unlikely to be met positively, but it is important that you do what’s right for you and your career. Being in a job that makes you feel bad is not healthy, is stressful and can affect your productivity, and that doesn’t benefit anyone.
Official request template
If you’re sure you’ve done all you can to resolve any issues and want to request a move to a new manager, consider this template as a guide.
Switching managers at work is not an easy thing to do. It takes courage and commitment and a dedication to attempt to fix any problems before taking your request to HR and following the appropriate channels.
Throughout the process, it’s important to:
- Remain professional
- Have evidence and examples
- Be true to yourself and what you need to be happy in your job
Being unhappy in your job is not conducive for you or your employer, so sometimes the change is necessary, even if it is uncomfortable or difficult. Stay strong and allow HR to support you through the process.
Still feeling unhappy? Learn how to be happier at work by watching this video:
Have you ever had to ask to switch managers? How did you go through the process? Let us know in the comments, as your experience might help someone else going through the same thing.
Originally published 7 May 2014.