Your Boss Radically Changed Your Job. What Can You Do?

We all know that sticking in one position for too long can damage your market value and career. But what happens when your boss changes your duties or project focus out of the blue… and not for the better? Do you have to accept the changes? Or is quitting your only viable option?

For example: According to Business Insider, Google is reportedly cutting back on its “Create” team, and will temporarily send affected employees to work on new projects within the company.

While staff changes are not unusual, being asked to take on different duties or projects can be difficult if you’re caught off-guard or feel like the new job isn’t what you signed up for. Here’s how to proceed if you find out that your job is changing dramatically.

Impact Evaluation

Don’t automatically assume that you’re being demoted or moved to a low-value project. Although your initial fears may end up being vindicated, you won’t know how your new job compares to your old one until you understand what’s changing. Full communication with your boss is important.

Your first objective is to keep your emotions in check and become a neutral observer, explained John Parikhal, partner of management consulting firm Breakthrough Management.

Don’t let your ego get the best of you. Take the time to truly understand the impact of your new role by conducting a side-by-side comparison of duties, skill utilization, tools and technologies, authority, exposure to upper management and so forth.

“Observe first without evaluating,” Parikhal advised. “You may miss key opportunities if you judge a job change too quickly.”

Reassess Your Career Goals and Alignment

Whenever your job changes suddenly, and without any input from you, you need to seriously reassess your career goals and whether they can still be achieved with your current boss and employer, noted Adrian Klaphaak, a San Francisco-based career coach and founder of A Path That Fits.

Ask yourself: What do I really want to be doing right now? Does this new role match my overall interests, objectives and talents? Am I being impacted by a shift in the company’s focus or financial status? Is my boss setting me up for failure or even worse, encouraging me to leave?

If your professional goals are no longer aligned with your manager’s goals (and the organization’s mission and strategy), then you need to launch a job search, Klaphaak said. If your boss has given your old job to someone else and decreased your responsibilities, you should consider seeking opportunities elsewhere, too. However, it never hurts to talk with your boss before making a final decision.

Express Your Concerns

You won’t know the real story behind your reassignment until you have a frank conversation with your boss. Find out if your move is based on your performance, budget restrictions or a change in business strategy, and how long it might take to get your old job back.

People try to avoid disagreeing with their boss because they view it as conflict. But disagreeing is not necessarily detrimental.

“It is important to get clarity about why your job was changed and when you can return or move to another positon,” Parikhal said. “Speak with honesty, but remain calm and emotionally neutral.”

If your boss wants you to stay, they may promise you a plum assignment down the road or insist that your new job is temporary. Get commitments in writing.

For instance, if your boss needs you to go back and update a legacy software system, ask when the work will be completed and what your next job will be. Also, make sure to ask for an accurate and updated listing of your duties and responsibilities, and request additional training and development if necessary. If you’re not sure what your boss expects and how your performance will be evaluated, it’s time to clarify.

If your boss seems unsure or can’t even give you a rough estimate of how long you will be in this situation, then they’re in over their head… or there’s something else going on. You may not hear what you want to hear during the meeting, but at least you’ll know where you stand.