Sometimes a promotion might actually wind-up being the worst thing that could happen to you! Really, it’s true. A good friend of mine won a promotion he had been planning and hoping for over a long period of time. He was ecstatic.
The first year on the new job he lost more than $20k of income moving from an hourly wage to salary. He worked even more overtime, was stressed-out, (which carried over to his family life, ) and resulted in a whole host of other troubles.
It didn’t take him long to decide that the “promotion” brought with it a new title and a lot of headaches he had never anticipated.
You really need to ask yourself if the promotion you seek will somehow improve the quality of your life and those you care about enough to justify accepting it. There needs to be some harmony between your work life, and your home or private life, and what you expect or desire from each. If a promotion costs you too much of what you care about most, run from it, or re-create and redefine it in a way that works for you.
Critical Questions To Ask Before Seeking Or Accepting A Promotion Are:
- What do I value most and will the promotion give me more of that?
- Will I be happier?
- Will my relationships suffer or be improved (family, co-workers, and/or friends, etc. ?)
- Will I be more secure in my job?
- Will I earn more or less money? (Don’t forget to consider the differences between hourly wages and base salary pay. )
- Will I have to work much more than I want to?
- Will I retain at least the same level of benefits I currently enjoy?
- Will there be opportunities to advance further?
- Is this position temporary or enduring?
- Is this position respected and needed long-term?
- Who will replace me, and are they competent?
- Whom will I be replacing, where are they going, and why?
- Will this promotion actually help me and the company in the long-run?
- Am I exceeding my level of competence by taking this job? If so, what will I need to do to become competent to fulfill this new role?
- What is the “political climate” like surrounding this new position?
- Who will be my new boss and what is he or she like?
- Is there a merger looming, or likely, and how will this effect me?
- Will I have to re-locate, and am I open to that?
- Who will I now be supervising or accountable for, and what are they like?
- What is the history of this position? If this position is constantly being “re-filled, ” why?
- Will the level of accountability I have match the rewards I receive?
- Who will decide whether or not I get the job, and how is my relationship with them?
- Can I leave the job without being demoted or punished in some way if it turns out to not be a good fit?
- What will be left undone when I leave my current position, who will complete it, and how involved will I need to be in that process?
Maybe that seems like a long list of questions but I hope you know the answers to each of them before you push hard for a promotion. You really do need to know if the new job is better than what you have now. Finding the answers to some of theses questions can be a bit of a tricky process, but as long as you proceed cautiously, it will be well worth your time.
Whether you like Dick Cheney or George Bush, or agree with them politically, you have to sort of admire the way Dick Cheney has said a resounding “No” to seeking the office of President of the United States. Instead of toying with the idea of becoming President, Vice President Cheney has repeatedly said “I serve at the pleasure of the President” and “I do not desire, nor will I accept, your nomination for President. ” Could he have been any clearer on the subject? It seems fair to say that VP Cheney has answered the questions above in his own way. Perhaps, like many of us, he is glad someone else is doing that job.
Being President of the United States isn’t for most of us. Half the people you govern don’t agree with you most of the time, and the other half only agrees with you some of the time. High-level positions in most companies work much the same way. You have to grow a pretty “thick skin” to thrive and be effective in such environments.
Very recently, two friends of mine working at different companies in two different states both decided they were tired of their jobs and quit. Both men were very impressive and highly regarded in their respective occupations. After years of holding the highest and second highest positions in their companies, both of them declared, in effect, “I’ve had enough of this” and left long-standing careers.
What would drive people to this end? I’ll summarize their answers to give you a sense of why people burn-out and feel as though they must move on even when they have been promoted to the highest levels.
The Following Elements Contributed To The Eventual Burn-Out Of Both Men:
- They were working at least 60 and usually 80+ hours per week. They both felt like if they worked any less they would fail to meet the responsibilities of their positions. Sadly, even with the extra hours worked, they never felt like they were even close to being caught-up.
- They were good delegators, but simply had more work than they could possibly do. Their key staff members were also overwhelmed, so they could not off-load any more work onto them. There simply was no relief for them.
- They received extreme pressure from corporate execs to make their companies more and more profitable in order to please shareholders. In truth, there is only so much that can be done, and only so many hours in a day in which to do those things. Unfortunately, many corporate executives do not agree with this analysis.
- They carried the “weight of the world” on their shoulders, and found it hard to think of anything but their jobs. Even when they were home (on occasion, ) with their families they found it almost impossible to think of anything other than their duties at work.
- They had unreasonable expectations for themselves and equally unreasonable expectations placed on them by corporate leadership. They were, in fact, destined to fall short even with all of their talents and passion for the business, and after all they could do.
Both gentlemen in this example are very good men who have incredible work ethics and solid characters. They both deserve medals for helping their companies evolve and keep thousands of workers employed. They both did the jobs they were hired to do with passion and integrity.
The purpose, again, behind telling you about these good men is that corporations are increasingly expecting people to give-over their entire lives for the benefit of the company. In search of the almighty dollar, many corporate execs are very uninterested in the fact that people are being pushed far beyond reasonable expectations. Every corporate exec and perhaps every shareholder knows that even high-level managers are completely replaceable.
It is almost as though it has become understood that leaders and managers on every level are like race cars. You run them hard for awhile, replace only the parts, fuels, and lubricants that you absolutely must, and when they have lost their zip you get a new one.
If you are interested in high-level positions with great responsibility you should know this “use ‘em and lose ‘em” practice seems to have become the norm. In my travels I haven’t seen any signs of this changing in the near future.
If all you learn from this entire manual is that you don’t want a promotion after all, then your money and time have been wisely spent. Far too many people set their sights on the goal of being promoted before they investigate what that really means. It is generally harder to go back to the job you had before you were promoted once you’re in your new position. Consider all the many ramifications of your decision before putting a lot of effort into being promoted.
Some promotions even come with implied and, (more or less mandatory) future promotions. If you know this is the case, you need to really consider how desirable the second or third position in sequence would be, as you might be obligated to accept it. If it is completely undesirable, you may want to reconsider the path you have chosen.
It’s very common for assistant managers to become managers and managers to become senior management or even presidents. If you can see the direct route to a place or position you don’t want to occupy, a course-correction may be warranted. You’ll either need to set things up in a way that won’t take you to the undesirable position, or choose a different career path. There truly may be no going back.
This scenario is quite common: you, as assistant manager, are the natural choice to replace the next higher level boss. The management team is probably grooming you for this position, and will be disappointed if you won’t accept it when offered. In addition, you will be the best qualified person for the job.
Unless you can accept the terms of a promotion fully, you might be better off declining it cold. In the end, getting a promotion that gives you more money and a great title, but makes you miserable isn’t worth it.
- Some promotions cost you so much of what you value that they are actually DEMOTIONS.
- You should always ask the “24 Critical Questions” from chapter 1 before accepting a promotion.
- Hi-level positions are extremely demanding and require “thick skin” emotionally and politically to endure, let alone thrive in.
- Professional burn-out is a risk associated with advanced positions of responsibility.
- Many corporations treat senior managers as expendable commodities and replace them frequently.
- Everyone is completely replaceable in every company regardless of rank.
- Just learning why you don’t want a promotion is a worthy undertaking.
- Many positions practically require their occupants to accept higher positions. If a promotion eventually leads to a position you don’t want, you may need to choose a different career path as there may be no going back.
- Getting a promotion that gives you more money and a great title, but makes you miserable isn’t worth it.
I hope this chapter helped you consider what a promotion might really mean to you. It is always good to go in with your eyes wide open.
All the Best,
Bill Hanover is author of “No Sucking-Up! How to Get Promoted Without Sucking-Up. " He has been a management consultant for the last 10 years and holds and M. S.in psychology. To learn more about Bill or his new e-book “No Sucking-Up!" you may visit http://www.nosuckingup.com/
You may also visit Bill's Lean Manufacturing consulting website at http://www.tpslean.com/