What's more, as he's leaving, it may mean a chance of promotion for me if I stay here. I feel disloyal whichever option I choose, and I'm not sure which will be better for my long-term career. Any suggestions?
A: I have a deeply plonking rule-of-thumb about changing jobs voluntarily. In an ideal world, you should never make a move until you've been unhappy in your present job for at least six months - and know there's a better-sounding offer round the corner. A lot to aim for and it's not always possible, but it's worth keeping in mind.
You say you're happy with the company. You may not realise just how fortunate that makes you. People who are happy in firms quite often get so used to being happy that they come to believe they could be just as happy anywhere; but that's seldom the case.
On the question of loyalty, I quite understand how divided you must feel; but it was, after all, your company that hired you and paid you and trained you and created the conditions you enjoy so much. Your boss and mentor clearly contributed a lot to those conditions; but all other things being equal, I believe your initial loyalty should be to your company.
In saying all this, I'm ignoring the question of your possible promotion.
If you decide to stay on, it should be because you enjoy what you already do rather than in the hope of doing something a bit grander. You can't be certain that promotion will come along - and if you've banked on it happening, you'll only feel cheated when it doesn't.
Explain all this to your boss, make sure he knows how grateful you are to him and wish him every bit of luck and success in his new venture.
After he's actually left the company, you'll soon discover just how important he was to your working life. If it turns out to have been all-important (but do give it that critical six months' test) and if your ex-boss's new company is doing well, the chance to rejoin him could still be open to you.
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