In The Workplace

I’ve been in my current job for five years and feels unhappy about my career development under my boss. Can I request a transfer to another department? — Tinder Box.

It depends on four factors — company policy, vacancy in the other department, your qualifications, and the willingness of the other manager to accept you into the fold. Even if all these are in your favor, your current boss can still make things difficult for you. So what would be the best approach to get what you want?

It won’t be easy. You have to play by the rules. Whatever the circumstances are, the first thing you should do is to be diplomatic and kind to your boss even with all the hard feelings. I know. It’s difficult to be sincere with people who don’t support you. But there’s no other way.

Understand that in the workplace, there’s always the possibility of conflict. The reasons include conflict between two or more managers, a manager and a worker in another department, and of course managers and their direct reports.   

It’s imperative to look yourself in the mirror. What’s preventing you from achieving your career goal? Surely, it boils down to your performance. If you don’t exceed the expectations of your boss, you will not be able to advance, no matter how you look at it.

Examine your track record, at least for the past three years. What’s the grade given to you by your boss? If you’re an average worker, that means you’re not yet ready for a transfer, unless management allows it for reasons like multi-tasking, among others.

Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. Know them by heart. Then, find a way to talk to your boss about your career aspirations. If you’re an average performer, create a performance improvement plan with the help of your boss. Talk to your boss.

Do it casually at the right time when the load is easy and when he appears in a good mood. Prepare yourself emotionally for such event with the following list in mind:

One, be appreciative of what the boss has done to you. Think of all the good things the boss has done for you, no matter how trivial. Don’t exaggerate. Be truthful to avoid any hint of bootlicking. Being grateful starts everything right for both of you. Be mindful of your boss’ reaction when you do this out of the blue.

Two, ask the boss on how you can improve your performance. Revisit your record. Study your weaknesses and plan to improve on them. Don’t be defensive. Be receptive by getting more details from your boss. Then, ask for assistance in correcting your weak points, which may include sending you to some training programs.

Three, request a different job within the department. Sometimes, boredom can be a root of the problem and can be easily cured by changing the environment at work.

Explore the possibility of being assigned at least temporarily to another section with a different job function. This could be done for six months to one year until the desired effect is achieved.

Four, offer assistance for a smooth transition. This is related to number three above. Reciprocal training is important to achieve the best possible result. One challenge to this approach is the absence of another person willing to change jobs. The cure, however, is when your boss decides that multi-tasking is important for everyone.

Last, consider a transfer request to another department. If the above four options are not feasible, then consider a request for transfer to a different boss who is willing to take you in. This could be more difficult unless you’ve done a preliminary discussion with all concerned bosses while taking into consideration their different personalities.

Career development is an obligation of both workers and managers. To do this, the organization must have a framework aimed at improving everyone’s performance. The framework may include training as the backbone of career development.

Although training and development are used interchangeably, we must understand the subtle differences. Training focuses on learning the necessary skills to perform a job. On the other hand, development focuses on the preparation needed so a person can perform other tasks within the organization.

If a particular worker has been identified as a potential successor to the boss, the former must undergo a systematic development process to be ready to assume the job in the future.

Therefore, training and development as a twin organizational requirement must be a continuing process as a cure for mediocrity and obsolescence.


Bring Rey Elbo’s leadership program called “Superior Subordinate Supervision” to your line leaders, supervisors, and managers. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn or X for his daily management insights or e-mail or via