I enjoy my work and have been offered a promotion – but I really don’t want the extra workload or to sacrifice time with my family. The company’s culture, however, values ambition and looks down on people who turn down promotions. I’m worried that if I say no, I could ruin my future here. What should I do?
Before you even consider the promotion you need to be brutally frank with yourself about why you would be doing it. Any loss of career opportunities will pale in comparison to losing out on your children’s early years. That said you don’t need to give up a promotion to keep that commitment to yourself and your family.
Having an honest discussion with your supervisor is the next step. Let them know what your hesitations are. You might be able to negotiate the details of the promotion. Define the role and tasks of the new job precisely, and set clear expectations on production targets, and time frames for achieving them.
Another important point to consider is that being productive is not necessarily tied to how much face time you are putting in. You can choose only to attend meetings that are relevant to your role or your projects, and delegate responsibilities to other people. Not only does this allow you to focus your precious attention, but others get to spread their wings and expand their knowledge. Your new staff may well thank you for it. If you choose to go this route, know that there is plenty of great literature on these topics that can help you hone your skills and provide creative ideas.
If you take this promotion, you need to keep an open dialogue with your supervisor about how it’s going, and continue to adjust and change as required over time. Progressive companies know that, as long as you are getting the job done, it shouldn’t matter how much time you do it in.
Finally, keep in mind that with the present labour market, you are in the driver’s seat. More and more companies need to be increasingly adaptive, creative and flexible – maybe you can lead the way for yours becoming so.
Globe & Mail; July 4, 2007