Ask the Expert: Will I be branded inflexible?

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A. Investment banks up to their tricks again. To foist an internal reorganisation and a key new recruit on you without mentioning anything beforehand is very poor management practice indeed. But sadly, this kind of thing is all too common.

You are probably right to look for a new job, if you cannot make the current arrangement work and there is no shame in doing so in the circumstances.

If this kind of thing happened to you all the time and you had had a series of jobs that lasted just a few months, you might well have a problem with your CV or being branded inflexible. But as a one off, there should be no problem in explaining briefly and factually to a prospective new employer what happened.

Learn from the experience. If you ever find yourself facing gardening leave again, make sure you have discussed any changes that might happen in the organisation in the interim and arrange that you will be involved in any matters relevant to you.

Other than that, don't be bitter. Leave on as good terms as possible and put this one down to experience. Good Luck!

Steve Burke, a senior project manager in Zug, Switzerland, has this advice:

Having been in position for what seems like the probation period, you are always free to re-evaluate the position and objectives of the role. This is a legitimate phase during the transition into a new job.

However, if you have concluded that better opportunities lie elsewhere then you need to be absolutely clear in explaining your basis of this decision. Many an employer may see this as rather spineless and not being up for the challenge and responsibility of managing a direct report. In the modern environment, colleagues come in all shapes and sizes and from increasingly diverse cultural backgrounds. For any senior role one is expected to be able to manage other people and meld them into a performing team.

On the other hand, the culture of changing the landscape whilst your back was turned is unfair, and so you can legitimately feel that you have been undermined by this process, and if after mediation there is no solution you are perfectly entitled to ask for a new position or ask for a reference, which by law after three months the employer must provide. It could kick them into taking you seriously or indeed, hasten your departure. In the end, your damned if you do, and dammed if you don't!

Next week's question: After 10.5 months working in client management for a mid-sized investment bank, my contract was terminated for 'performance reasons'. The role itself is not client facing, or revenue generating, and the quality of my work was equal if not better than my peers. When challenged in the exit meeting, management couldn't give concrete examples of work that was not up to standard and simply claimed that, 'the decision has been made'. Naturally, I think the decision is unfair and would like to know where I stand legally.

What would you advise? Send your answer to:

Look out for the Experts' answer to this dilemma and readers' comments on Ask the Expert next week.

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