Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You're Such a Total Dumb**s for Not Taking That Promotion....Or Maybe Not...

If your boss walked up to you today and offered you a promotion, with quite a substantial pay raise, would you take it?

"Well, duh," you might think. "Of course."

Now let's say that your boss offers you more money, but you will also be required to relocate -- or work more hours or perhaps take on tasks you don't like.

So, do you still take the promotion?

That's the dilemma many people face in their careers. While it seems a no-brainer that you grab a promotion and the extra cash with no hestitation, the decision is often not so clear-cut for some people.

In the early part of our careers, my husband and I relocated five times in 13 years for promotions. Was it easy? Nope. We moved away from family and friends and put in long, long hours. We endured enormous stress that came with moving up the corporate ladder, but we didn't complain.

Until, of course, we did complain. We looked at our lives and what we had (money, stock options, prestige), and what we didn't have (nearby family, a humane work schedule, a balanced existence), and decided we had had enough. So, we stepped off that ladder and have never regretted it.

But it's a hard decision to turn down a promotion. Most people will agree that if you do so, you've dealt a serious blow to your career. The boss may not offer again. You may be seen as not being totally committed to your employer. Others will see you as a slacker.

On the other hand, people do turn down promotions and go on to live happy and productive lives (see above). But there is some delicate footwork that needs to be done if you decide to take that road, so it's important to give it careful consideration.

Let's look at why you should accept a promotion:
* More money. Enough said.
* It's a chance to grow your skills and become more valuable.
* You will get more opportunities to meet higher-ups who can offer you even more chances to climb the corporate ladder.
* Exposure to new ideas, places and people.
* More money. (Did I mention that one already?)

Now, let's look at why you should not accept a promotion:
* It is too big of a stretch. You're bound to fail in a truly spectacular way. Think Evel Knievel going over the Grand Canyon.
* You would be working with people you don't know, don't want to know -- or know and don't like.
* Moving away from friends and family. Or, asking family members to be
uprooted from everything they know and love. If you have teenagers, this can mean lots of slammed doors.
* The job doesn't interest you in any way, shape or form.

The decision can be tough, but the good news is that some companies are more accepting of someone turning down a promotion. The trick is that you've got to frame your refusal in positive terms, such as "Gee, I'm so honored that I was offered this job, but I've thought a lot about it, and I just don't feel like it's a good fit for me right now. I've really got a lot more I want to accomplish in my current job, and am excited about where I'm headed."

Then, you've got to hope your boss accepts this gracefully. One more thing: Don't plan on turning down a promotion more than once. That truly is a good way to knock yourself off the career ladder.

Do you think someone always has to accept a promotion? Can you turn down a promotion and not hurt a career?


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