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How to let my manager and director know that I will leave the firm if I am not promoted in this cycle?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community10 months ago

I have been chasing the SDE-3 promotion from last one year. It was denied in the year end review cycle in December.

In this cycle (Jan - June), I have ticked almost all the checkpoints as per the firm's SDE-3 competency matrix and I have a good amount of documentation around it as well which I have submitted to my manager.

I want to let my manager and skip (Director) know that I will leave if I am not promoted in this cycle as I don't think there are any negative data points against me.

Any suggestions about how should I subtly carry out this conversation?



  • 26
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    Senior Software Engineer and Career Coach
    10 months ago

    This is a great question and a tough conversation to have.

    Some good news for you: I've seen a coworker do this before and it work. I'd imagine some of the feedback you'll get is that you shouldn't do this at all, which might be true but I can say anecdotally it has worked at least once πŸ˜‚.

    I haven't personally tried, and it would probably be a good idea to get advice from an engineering manager, but this is my take:

    1. Only directly say the (in a sense) ultimatum, if you really are willing to stand by it.
    2. Before stating the ultimatum, try to be as direct as possible in getting an answer on if promotion would be expected without needing to state the ultimatum. For example, "Hey so I know we've been chatting a good amount recently about the expectations for the next level, and based on our discussion, I've gotten the impression that I've been meeting the expectations for the next level for X months. Does that align with your thoughts and if it does, would it be fair to say a promotion is in the cards for this upcoming review cycle?"

      I'm not sure about the exact wording, as it will be different for each person, but hopefully that explains it well enough to where you can reword as you see fit.
    3. If the answer is no, have a fair discussion about it, be willing to stand your ground on whats been said in the past and push back respectfully. When I say push back, basically have examples ready about how the goals the two of you set up have been getting consistently met.
    4. At this point, the hope is that you wouldn't have had to issue the ultimatum. However, if you really feel backed into a corner and there is absolutely nothing you can do, I would suggest doing some sort of "deferred meeting."

      You would say something like, "Thanks for having this discussion with me and this gives me a lot to think about. How about we schedule a follow up to discuss this further next week after I've had a chance to process all this?"
    5. Then, you schedule the follow up, and genuinely reflect on the conversation. AFTER this point, you can then decide if you still want to issue the ultimatum or if what your manager is saying genuinely makes sense and you do have some things to do before the promotion. If at that point, you still are feeling that the ultimatum is the only way, then you could go into the follow-up conversation respectfully bringing that up, and stating it by backing up how you have been meeting the expectations of the next level with a few examples (to show its not purely an emotional decision). You can also say that you understand that this creates a difficult situation, and your intention is not for it to create a negative relationship moving forward or creating this difficult situation, it's just stating what you believe strongly. Again, just keeping it respectful throughout the whole thing and understanding that there is a person on the other end.

    I hope this helps and best of luck with what route you end up going with!

  • 12
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    Senior Software Engineer [SDE 3] at Amazon
    10 months ago

    I would suggest having a clear communication with your manager about when he/she thinks you'd be ready for a promotion and what are the gaps (if any) and how can they be addressed. If the manager thinks that there are no gaps and that you're ready for promotion, you can mention that you would lose motivation if you are not promoted this time since you've been working hard for it. I am sure your manager would get the hint from that. You can be more direct with your manager if you already have an offer from another company but I am guessing you don't have enough time for that.

  • 23
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    10 months ago

    Good question - I'm all for holding folks accountable. As others have mentioned, I would be very careful about delivering an ultimatum (i.e. "If you don't do this, I am out"):

    • I think you should only do it if you have an offer in hand or you're prepared to leave without having something lined up.
    • It would be very awkward if they didn't meet your request, and you just ended up staying.
    • In a situation where you stay after they call your bluff, the frayed relationship would make it really hard to continue working there.

    It's great that you have a career matrix to work off of and have ample documentation - It's also important to make sure that your manager is aligned with you on that and also believes this is all sufficient (mainly from your 1 on 1 meetings). Here's some good resources around how to do that:

    Any suggestions about how should I subtly carry out this conversation?

    This conversation should be anything but subtle: It should be quite direct. Make it clear that this promotion is very important to you, and you've done all this legwork to earn it. However, you should also be polite, understanding, and open to feedback - Don't just go charging in stating that everything is unfair. It's also important to remember that the poor state of the tech economy makes it much harder for engineering leadership to get the necessary budget for things like promotions and raises. I recommend my Effective Communication series to help with this: Alex's Guide To Effective Communication

    Best of luck!