Author Topic: Switch teams for shorter commute vs Stay with great manager & aim for promotion  (Read 3814 times)

rael

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Hey everyone! First post here on the Money Moustache forums. I've recently gotten into this blog and financial indepedence in general, and it's been a blast so far! I do have a question about my situation right now, and I'm hoping the friendly people at the forums could give me some guidance. It's not really a financial question, but more a question about balancing work / life priorities. Basically I have a choice between a 20 minute walking commute near home, or follow my current (and fantastic) manager to a new team, hoping to learn and get promoted. Let me give some background about my life first.

I am a 22 years old living with my girlfriend in San Francisco, and I work down in the South Bay. I commute by train, usually 1 hour 15 minute each way (barring the occasional delay). I know it's quite longer than moustachian standards, but it is on a train so I am free to spend the time how I wish. Now to be fair I'm not saying I'm fully productive on the train, but it's definitely not a waste of time either. I usually end up listening to podcasts, audiobooks, falling asleep reading books, reading articles on my phone (like this blog), and playing games on my phone. Also once in a while I will drive to work too, for various reasons. It usually ends up being about 2-3 times a month, and total round trip is 76 miles (with pretty bad traffic at times), so $38 dollars at .50 cents a gallon

I have been at my current job and team for almost 2 years now, joining Feb 2013 straight out of college. At that time, my company only had an office in South Bay. However last August, they opened up a San Francisco office that is 20 minutes away from where I live. That's 20 minutes WALKING DISTANCE! Why did I not jump on this right away?

Well the thing is last August, my team got a new manager who is honestly amazing. In a little over a year, I've learned so much from him, watching he approaches problems and leads the team. He's definitely been a mentor to me, and plays a big factor in why I enjoy my job so much. When they opened the San Francisco office, I made a conscious decision not to switch over in order to stay working for my manager. My thinking was, the #1 factor to workplace happiness is a good manager, and I love working for this guy. Sure moving to SF will cut my commute by a quarter, but I'm kind of used to it and I can do stuff on the train anyway.

A month ago, my manager told me that he was switching teams. I then had a choice as to my next career move. I could either
1. Stay on current team
2. Move to SF office
3. Follow him to his new team.
I chose to follow him to the new team. I'm pretty sure I'm about 2-3 quarters away from getting promoted, since I have built up quite a bit of good will with my manager. I didn't want to "reset" that by working under someone else.

Hope you're still with me, here is where the current situation comes in. I am already in the middle of the transition to the new team, kind of caught between worlds right now. However just last week my company had an enormous reorg, and literally everyone is getting shuffled around. My manager is now going to be switching to a third completely different team altogether.

Now I am faced with a dilemma of possible choices.
1. Should I stay with the team I just switched to only a month ago? The single biggest reason why I even decided to switch over in the first place was to work under my manager, and that factor has been eliminated. This is probably my least favorite choice.

2. Should I try to follow my manager again? It almost feels kind of embarrassing at this point that I've followed him twice in such short succession. He says he doesn't know if he will have room for me on his new team.

3. At this point, should I just move to San Francisco? I'm not sure if I'm freaking myself out about this whole promotion thing and "resetting" under a new manager thing. I'm sure there's some truth in that... But perhaps losing the commute will be worth it.

I guess I'm just wondering if it is reasonable to try and stay with the same manager for so long, even as he is getting switched back and forth. I have definitely learned a lot from him and he's a pleasure to work with, but perhaps its time for me to move on with my life. He definitely likes me a lot though, so I think my promotion chances will be better with him than a random other person I need to build up a relationship with. However, realistically a promotion won't be for another year probably, so I'm looking at another year of commuting.

I also find it hard to judge how much benefit the shorter commute will give me. Certainly losing two hours a day of travel time will be fantastic, but I do end up being semi-productive during that travel time anyway. I will get to spend more time enjoying the city life that I am paying for. It'll be much more convenient for anything I need to stay at home for, instead of battling train and traffic all the time. I don't know how the managers in SF office are, but I truly believe my company is full of great people so I have no reason to believe they won't be great either.

Thoughts? Any advice would be appreciated, as I am truly torn right now. Sorry it's was such a long post!

mxt0133

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with following a good manager to a new team, I know people that have moved jobs to keeps working for a particular individual when the opportunity opened up.  That said if at the time being there is no room to work for your old manager that doesn't mean there won't be in the future. 

I would definitely stay in touch, you say he has acted like a mentor, I don't see why that can't continue on some level, maybe not day to day, but I don't think a few monthly check-ins would be too much. 

Do you have the option of just working out of the SF office even if your team in the South Bay?  Try and explore all your options.

auntie_betty

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The danger of basing your future round one person is that he could up and leave at any time. You'd then be stuck possibly having to start again, at the time you were realistically expecting promotion.

All other things being equal, you've said it's a great company, go for the walk to work and reclaim your life. Keep in touch with your old boss but take the opportunity to strike out and raise your profile in the company. Don't be too closely associated with one individual.

lakemom

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The danger of basing your future round one person is that he could up and leave at any time. You'd then be stuck possibly having to start again, at the time you were realistically expecting promotion.

All other things being equal, you've said it's a great company, go for the walk to work and reclaim your life. Keep in touch with your old boss but take the opportunity to strike out and raise your profile in the company. Don't be too closely associated with one individual.

+1   This was pretty much exactly what I was going to say.  Continue the mentoring relationship with the great leader and walk to work in a lovely city reclaiming 2 hours per day of your life.

Retired To Win

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Just from what you've told us, it is obvious from your company's propensity to shuffle people around that you CANNOT count on being able to stay with that great manager.  But you CAN count on giving yourself an IDEAL mustachian work "commute."

If your end goal is early financial independence, freeing yourself from needing a vehicle because of your job would be a huge move forward.

So...

TN_Steve

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Man.  Lifestyle has got to come into it--and it isn't as if jobs are terribly hard to come by in your location (assuming tech field, of course).

My son just faced similar choice.  Took a new job block from Embarcadero; he was still living in heart of the Valley, where he'd biked to work.  Resulted in a 70 minute train/bike commute each way on a good day.  He lasted a week or two before he started looking for apartment.  Took a bit of looking, but he's now 1.5 miles from work and has a lot more time on his hands to either work longer and/or do his own things.  (Plus, the Caltran expense is gone and he can continue to rely on zipcar on the rare occasions that he needs a vehicle.)

To me, you gotta take the walk.

 

KBecks2

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If you have  a great manager (that is rare, IMO), stay with them.    Good luck!

lhamo

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He says he doesn't know if he will have room for me on his new team.

I think you need to have a really frank conversation with him about this.  If you really were "all that" wouldn't he be fighting to keep you?  Or maybe this is a whole different area where your skills aren't as applicable.  In any event, if you have a great relationship I think an honest conversation with him about the dilemma/seeking his advice shouldn't hurt.  And ask directly if he knows of great people in the SF office who could use you on their team.  You might end up with the best of both worlds -- a great new manager as well as a shorter commute.

MDM

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...total round trip is 76 miles (with pretty bad traffic at times), so $38 dollars at .50 cents a gallon
You may want to check your math (and gas price).  Don't know if better numbers will affect your decision, but....

Quote
2. Should I try to follow my manager again? It almost feels kind of embarrassing at this point that I've followed him twice in such short succession. He says he doesn't know if he will have room for me on his new team. ... He definitely likes me a lot though, so I think my promotion chances will be better with him than a random other person I need to build up a relationship with. However, realistically a promotion won't be for another year probably, so I'm looking at another year of commuting.
I agree with lhamo - time for a serious conversation with this manager.  Ask him straight out about your promotion likelihood and how that would be affected by your choices.  Then listen - and observe body language - very closely. 

Good luck (and welcome to the forums)!

deborah

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Work out why they are having the re-org and how often this happens. Once I worked somewhere that re-orged every 6 months (I was there for years, but was at a different desk and on a different floor every 6 months - you got to appreciate different views and different office artwork). If your workplace is like that, you will probably have loads of opportunities to work for your mentor again in the future, and the 20 minute walk would be a good option. 

I agree that talking with your mentor would be good. Having a different boss for 6 months might give you good alternative experience. It sounds like it is easy to change jobs in your work place.

rael

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Hey everyone, thanks for all the good advice and help! An update, I ended up making a decision to try and switch to the SF office after all. I had a couple of deep conversations with my manager, and he has been very helpful and supportive in the transition. He also has helped me identify some other good managers up in the SF office. As many of you guys suggested, I will definitely stay in touch with him after I switch.

Currently still in the process of trying to make the switch, I'm hoping it will all go down by the time January rolls around *fingers crossed*. Thanks again everyone!

TerriM

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Hey everyone, thanks for all the good advice and help! An update, I ended up making a decision to try and switch to the SF office after all. I had a couple of deep conversations with my manager, and he has been very helpful and supportive in the transition. He also has helped me identify some other good managers up in the SF office. As many of you guys suggested, I will definitely stay in touch with him after I switch.

Currently still in the process of trying to make the switch, I'm hoping it will all go down by the time January rolls around *fingers crossed*. Thanks again everyone!

Sounds like a good decision.   I'm sure in the future, if you want to work with him again, you'll have that opportunity.   Just keep the communication open.