Q: I am about to be made redundant from my firm and have been offered a satisfactory package. I am now being courted by another senior person in the same firm to work for my old boss whom I respected but did not get along with. What are your thoughts on taking the redundancy terms versus staying on and working in a better job but for a difficult boss?
A: We are struck by the idea that you respect your former boss but have such a difficult working relationship with her. Are you sure you respect her? Or is it just that you admire some of the things she has achieved? Are there any important aspects of her behaviour or values that you don't respect?
These questions are important because, in our experience, working for someone you don't respect is a recipe for disaster. Apart from the fact that it's demoralising for you, they will probably sense your feelings about them and, given the opportunity, try to get rid of you. If you're lucky that will mean shunting you sideways into another department, if you're unlucky, it means losing your job (as has perhaps already happened - unless your boss had no say in your redundancy). In any event, you will always be bottom of the list for any career development and working life will not be pleasant. So think very carefully before accepting a job with a boss you don't respect.
If, on the other hand, you really do respect your boss, then it's worth taking a closer look at what's going on. You don't need to be friends. You don't need to have much in common. You just need a positive working relationship. What is preventing this? What would make it better? How realistic is it to achieve these improvements? Remember that you have a better chance of improving the relationship by changing your own behaviour than by thinking what the boss should be doing differently.
If you don't think your relationship can improve sufficiently even after making these efforts, perhaps you would be better off moving, depending on how generous your severance terms are.
Ask yourself the right questions; be honest with your answers; be realistic. You should then find it easier to take a decision
Next week's question: A headhunter I am in contact with sent out my details to somebody in my company "by mistake". Their privacy statement says "Your information will not be forwarded to any parties outside our group (with the exception of our clients, agents who process data on our behalf and successors in title to our business) without your consent. Should my boss hear about that and should I suffer on the bonus side, what can I do?
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Look out for the Experts' answer to this dilemma and readers' comments on Ask the Expert next week.
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