Free Advice: Work Schmerk

My Free Advice motto? I'm only too happy to tell you what to do

I’m 55 and was approached for another position in my company. I’m comfortable in my current job but work for a micro manager. At my age, do I start over in new job or stay where it’s comfortable but not a great manager? — Wondering At Work

Dear Wondering at Work:

My first question to you is this: What is the new position and what comes with it? (Well, I guess that’s actually two questions — but in my opinion it is THE question/s.)

Is it the same work you do now at the same pay? Is it slightly more responsibility and slightly more pay? Is it a position where you’ll get to see and learn a new aspect of the company you work for? Would you be working with new people, and do you know anything about them by reputation? Would this move — I’m assuming it’s lateral, actually, but that’s just a guess — put you in a position to move up at some point?

I ask all the above trying to suss out whether there are KNOWN GAINS. In taking on any new job, we enter a bunch of unknowns, but right now, let’s focus on what you DO know or CAN know.

And now let’s flip the lens around, on what you do know about your current job. Micromanagers suck, period. They essentially rob your job of its basic emotional value: a sense of fulfillment that comes from being meaningful. If your manager is always telling you exactly what to do down to the smallest detail, or, worse, telling you exactly how to do something after you’ve already done it, or otherwise treating you like an object, not a human being, that’s a pretty big price to pay. You have no purpose, then. The unique you that you bring to work is constantly being ignored: that’s what it is to be micromanaged. And that exacts a psychic toll.

But only you can do the math on this particular equation. For me, being micromanaged or mismanaged is a soul killer. I don’t tolerate it well. It makes me sad and angry in turns, and my particular emotional bagging gets super-triggered by being overlooked in this way. But your emotional baggage might fit nicely on your current job’s luggage rack, and you only thunk your head against it once in awhile.

In which case my next question for you is this: Do you thrive on change? I do — I like starting at zero and having to learn new systems, people, rhythms, jobs, environments. It’s like a big, fun puzzle to me, putting pieces into place. Or do you thrive on stability and predictability? When you know what most of your days will be like, even if they are prickled with irritations from your manager, are you generally happy? From your letter, brief though it is, you don’t seem to be chafing mightily against your current situation. And you also didn’t note anything you would be gaining from the new post.

So I can’t call this one for you, Wondering. But I hope that the framework of questions above will make the answer clearer for you. But above all, I’m so happy you are gainfully employed and working somewhere that opportunities are coming your way. After reading all the stats on the underemployment of women over 50 in this country, some of which I enumerated in my last post, I am gladdened to hear that you have solid, stable work. Good luck!