I’ve been through a hell of a week. As we mature and add years of experience to our professional records, we falsely believe that we’re ready for this kind of business choice. The reality is that until we’re in the situation, we can’t entirely grasp the full extent to which the struggle to make the right decision can affect us, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Last week, my immediate manager informed me that I have to leave the team and move to a different part of the organization due to top-level management discussions and planning. It wasn’t an ultimate decision; still, it was a strongly suggested direction.
The news crushed me. I felt the change was coming, but I never expected this kind of outcome.
My manager and I collaborated for close to five years. When we met, I transferred from a different team and manager, a woman who was as toxic as she was brilliant. There was plenty to learn from her, but the main takeaway was that I never wanted to work again with her type—women running after power stepping on human bodies on their way up to the corporate ladder.
When I met him, I knew I was in good hands: a compassionate leader, enthusiastic and passionate, a cheerleader for any new idea brought to the table. He offered me the comfort to give my best: drive, innovation, hard-word. Doing all these was easy and natural. He didn’t request me to prove him anything — when he brought me on board, he already knew I was an asset.
Together we built a strong portfolio of services, and our team grew to triple in size. By the time they came after us, we were very successful, which is why they made their number one objective to crush us by brute-forcing the transfer of almost the entire service portfolio to them, plus the guarantee that we will never deliver similar services again.
His heart was broken.
He not only got stripped of his services, but he also had to move staff over to ensure the successful transition. In reality — and I am still upset about this, although I can understand his decision — he could have moved with everything up under different management. But as you all know, that is the real challenge: finding a good boss to work under is rare. My boss couldn’t see one there that would fulfill this need; hence, he decided to refuse to leave with the price of accepting their terms.
What followed reminds me of Game of Thrones: a fast-paced game of cards and intrigue at the workplace. Every day brought something new and twisted, challenging the status quo of the previous day.
Nothing was certain.
To make a decision, to go or to stay, required factoring in multiple variables, which I could only know by delaying an answer as much as possible. And that was exactly the card I played. I postponed my decision to have space to understand as well as possible each party’s intentions.
My current company was in danger. I had doubts about the new one. The logical thing to do was move along with the services I have built. However, the move didn’t feel right. I had to know who’s my manager to be. What kind of person I’d get to work with, how much she’ll care about my needs, and me as a person. Thus, I brought money into a discussion because, for some people, this topic is quite the trigger.
My strategy paid off. I learned she had a short fuse which she let me see when she surprisedly reacted that I even brought in the subject. She expected the staff transfer to require no compensation.
I learned later that she complained about me to management for bringing out this topic, considering it (my move) rude and inappropriate. Finding out the full spectrum of her reaction, including the aftermath of our short and sour meeting, was exactly what I needed to know, and it resulted from my waiting strategy.
When she emailed me a night before asking me to send her some documentation for the next day's meeting, I remembered how my life was back in the days when I worked with the lady manager that was both brilliant and toxic. Oppositely, seeing this email and all the shit show she created, this one promised more toxicity than brilliance, and since I had the option to refuse the move — I took it.
While the logical thing to do, apparently, was to move, I trusted my gut feeling. My gut feeling told me there might be consequences for both saying yes or no, but in the end, having a manager that supports me and regards me as a person beyond my monetary value in the organization counts more than the prospect of career advancement for which I imagine I would have paid with my soul.
As a mother, I cherish my mental well-being. I want to avoid juggling multiple balls in the air, hoping that none will fall. That is virtually impossible. Hence, I am not seduced by corporate-level promises that I’ll do great and thrive by moving there. My professional experience taught me that much: to do great and succeed, you’d need to work your ass off. And while I’m not afraid of the work, I’m not willing to use family time to answer emails or make video calls at the expense of my relationship with my son.
It’s a different world there. A world I’m not ready now to join unless forced.