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 Should You Join Your Old Boss?

By Joe Stein

 Since you are a hard-working and productive employee, I am sure you have been very highly regarded by your previous Managers.  You probably have the stellar performance reviews to prove that your previous boss was a big fan.  Due to this positive previous experience, your old Manager would most likely love to reunite with you again.

 
If you do receive this call regarding re-joining your previous Manager, there are many items that you should consider prior to saying that you will.  Let’s take a look at just some of the questions that you should be asking yourself.
 
Was Your Relationship As Good As You Remember – Just like every ex-President’s approval rating goes up after leaving office, your impression of your old boss can also be impacted positively by the absence.  This may be because your new Manager is even worse (I certainly hope this is not the case for you), or that human nature causes you to remember more of the good times than the bad ones.
Is the Position What You Want? – While you may have some initial excitement over the possibility of rejoining your boss, you have to ask yourself is the job what you really want.  Will you be doing what you like and are good at?  Is it at least at the same level (regardless of compensation) or above?
What Is Your Career Trajectory? – This can be a tough one to consider.  On one side, working again for your old boss can serve as a road block to future promotions unless he/she has room to be promoted or leaves the company.  On the other hand, if there is room to grow, then you have an important advocate that may clear a path for you to receive that desired promotion.  This requires having a very open and honest conversation with your past boss, which I am assuming you are comfortable doing given that you used to work for the person and are thinking of doing so again.
Will You Get the Mentor You Need? – I have been an advocate of a person obtaining different experiences through some combination of different positions, Managers, or companies.  Most leaders will say that she/he developed their style from a combination of what they liked (or did not like) from a variety of people. The more diversity of experiences, typically the better you become.  The question centers on whether you will receive more of the same by working with your previous Manager, or will you obtain guidance that will continue to help you grow.
Why Does Your Manager Want You Back? – The reasoning may go beyond just that the Manager desires to work with you again.  Often, there is a business reason behind the decision.  It may be that you have a specific skill that is in demand externally, and (if this is the case) perhaps you should conduct a formal job search to determine the overall interest.  Your old Manager may also have inherited a mess with their new employer and wants your help to fix it.  So, you have to ask yourself if you up to this challenge and will you be given the leeway to do what is needed (and is your old boss on secure enough ground to allow it).
Will You Be Burning a Bridge? – Depending on how your old boss left your current organization, you may be “burning a bridge” with your current employer.  They may automatically now associate you with this person because you left to go join him/her.  If you desire to maintain a good relationship with your current company, either for future networking or job opportunities, then you may want to consider this when deciding whether to move.
Does It Make Financial Sense? – As much as you may want to work for your old boss again, does it make financial sense?  Is the compensation what you need to make a move?  Are the benefits comparable or better?  What about vacation and sick time…will you need to start over or will they match/exceed what you currently accrue.
 
Leaving your current employer for a position with a different company is always a big decision (one of the biggest that anyone will make in their life).  While this decision and the transition can be a lot easier if you are going to work for your old boss, there are still many items for you to consider in order to decide whether the move is right for you.  Don’t forget that despite any loyalty or even pressure you may be feeling, ultimately you have to make the decision that is right for you.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search!