Q: I have a new boss who reports to my former boss, moving me down the corporate hierarchy. I’m feeling demoted; for example, he goes to the meetings I used to attend, and I’m not sure what to do.
A: Understand the factors that led to the restructuring, and adapt if you can.
The inner game
Sad, confused, upset, or hurt, it’ll help to accept these feelings as legitimate, and then set them gently aside so that you can focus on moving forward. Take some deep, calming breaths, exhaling anxiety and stress, and breathing in a sense of peace with your situation. If you’re perceiving anyone or anything as an enemy, let go of that, too. Move toward accepting the current state of affairs as the new “what is,” from there you can determine whether it continues to meet your needs.
What’s going on in your company as a whole? If there are multiple restructurings or a major redirection of staff, it’s likely that you’re just caught in the shift. In that case, you can do some things to quickly take stock of the fit between the position (in terms of requirements and potential) and your qualifications to determine next steps.
However, if this is a more limited move organizationally, some serious “taking stock” is appropriate. While it may not be personal, it may be related to perceptions of your past performance or your capacity for going forward. It may not feel fair, but this needs to be taken into consideration, looking at feedback you’ve received in recent reviews.
Then, setting aside any pride aspect, evaluate your current position. Do you like what you’re doing? Does it play to your strengths? If not, what would change so to make it a more satisfying role?
The outer game
Keeping this to yourself will not resolve the issue, yet, there are risks to consider in raising the topic with your boss.
First of all, he may have had little to do with the decision to “layer” you, so expecting him to speak to the reasons is probably not realistic. And, in any case, a backward-looking strategy is not going to be productive. Instead, ask for a conversation about where your role is headed.
Be prepared to share aspects of your past role that you particularly liked and be willing to discuss ways that the change has affected you.
Keep in mind that your new boss may perceive the situation as a minefield with a potentially unwilling and unhappy subordinate. If your goal is to make this situation work, help make it easier for him to perceive you as an ally. In any case, new bosses always bring a learning curve, so try to approach this in that light. If you have a strong need for inclusion, let him know.
Finally, figure out what is acceptable to you in a role. If this no longer fits, start taking steps to find a position that’s a better fit, but be careful not to burn bridges.
The last word
Learn from the experience, while also paying attention to what you need to feel satisfied in your job.