Dear New Shrink,
I started my current job about 14 months ago. I absolutely love the position and the people I work with, but I have to commute almost two hours each way. The commute is really getting to me. Recently, I discovered an opportunity in an office located closer to my home and one that would have an opposite traffic commute. I really want to apply for the transfer, but I am unsure how to approach the subject with my boss since I feel I owe him for dedicating time to developing me. I am afraid to approach my boss and ask whether he would recommend me for the transfer because we have established a strong working relationship. Will he find out if I apply? What do you recommend I do?
Factors outside of the workplace have a huge impact on our careers. While a long commute may not seem like a big deal during the application process, it really can impact the quality of your work and your life. I promise you are not the first person to weigh your commute against the job opportunities in front of you. In fact, you are probably not the first person in your office to make a change for the very same reason.
If you have a strong relationship with your boss, then you should consider how he can support you. It is likely that he is already aware of your long commute and ultimately should be concerned with making sure you are in the right position within the company. You mention you feel guilty because he has invested time in developing you; this probably means he sees your potential and will be happy for you to explore opportunities that best fit your life.
It is very important you have an open dialogue with your current boss. One of the worst things that could happen is for him to find out from someone else that you applied for a position. This has the potential to damage the trust and relationship you have created far more than asking for his assistance in transferring.
Before you make the move, you may want to do some internal research to get a sense of the team you would be working with. Ask around to see if others in your current office have ideas of who’s who and how things work in the other office. Even within the same corporation, different offices can have totally different cultures. You want to be sure you are making a shift that will support your own professional and career development.
If it looks like this new team will be a good fit for you, I would encourage you to set up a time to meet with your current boss. You will want to prepare several different things so he can tell you have really thought through the situation. Make sure that he knows it is not personal but rather a necessary change to make you more efficient and successful in the office. Adding four extra hours per day is time you could be devoting to work, your family and other important areas.
To prepare for the conversation, it might be helpful to look at the upcoming projects and develop a system that will provide your current team with the most support possible. Even though it is an employer’s job market right now, it still takes time to fill a vacancy. Planning ahead will ensure you leave on a positive note and will continue the strong relationship you and your boss have created. Good luck in your transition.
KATRINA DAVY is a Santa Monica-based professional career counselor who holds degrees from Cornell and Columbia universities. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are kept anonymous; let us help you with your life matters! Visit us online at www.newshrink.com.