To Follow, or Not to Follow

Q. I was in a good job and got recruited by a very cool manager I wanted to work for. I have been here for one month – all was going great, until he announces he is leaving. Now what? Do I try to go back where I was? Start looking for a new job? Try to tag along with the guy who brought me here?

A. Being recruited for a job is very flattering, and having the opportunity to work for someone you respect and can learn from is exciting. All of these positives may keep you from asking the hard questions about what the future looks like for the organization, your potential new boss and for you. Your future may still be bright, so get over the disappointment and find out what is really going on.

Ask the manager who recruited you what the situation is, and hope for some candor. Was this his dream opportunity that came up out of nowhere? Is there something else you need to know about the company you joined and its future? He may not be in a position to say anything, but the question should be asked. You can also remind him that the most compelling reason you left your job was the opportunity to work for him, and that you hope to have that opportunity at some point. Discuss the plan for your job, who your manager will be if he knows, and what his thoughts are about your future with the organization.

What you decide to do may depend on his answers, and it should depend on your own thoughts as well. Most likely you left your company for some valid reasons; perhaps wanting to grow, to learn and for new opportunity. If it was a mistake to take this job, which is not what I am hearing, you may want to look back. If you left your former company on good terms, knowing never to burn bridges, and you think your former employer can address the reasons you left, a phone call to your manager might be worthwhile. Many companies do rehire people who left. Others have strong aversions to what they see as an a lack of loyalty.
You may want to stay where you are and see what happens. If you didn’t hear about any serious organizational issues, you may find that the change in management can lead to opportunity. It may not be the learning experience you planned for, but will you be able to take on more responsibility? Learn more from a new manager? Work with great colleagues? For you to accept a new role, there had to be more to the company than just that manager. What other reasons can you see for this opportunity to be a good next step in your career?
Unless the departing manager makes you an offer at that moment for you to join him, which most likely will be prohibited contractually, you don’t need to make any decisions immediately.
-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partners, Keystone Partners
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