Considering stepping down

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Considering stepping down

Postby moneyfornothing » Wed May 01, 2013 1:12 pm

Hello all!

I am currently in a management position in a technical group, and I'm considering applying for a staff position in another department. I have my reasons for this - less hours worked (or at least actually getting paid when working extra), less responsibility, not having to be on-call, not having to carry a phone/laptop/etc, being able to "check out" at the end of my shift, and less overall job stress. Although it would be a step down in title and in responsibility, it wouldn't necessarily affect my pay, since I know my current pay still fits in the pay scale of the tech position. In fact, since I am already well underpaid, even if my salary was matched in the lower position, I would still be making less than the midpoint of the lower position. I don't if it's possible with HR rules, but I would even consider trying to negotiate an increase if an offer was made. I am crazy to think this? Has anyone else considered or actually made a step back in your career? Any regrets? Thank you!
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby Blues » Wed May 01, 2013 1:21 pm

I'm retired now, but during my federal career I took two or three voluntary reductions in pay grade in order to end up where I wanted to be career-wise. (This is in regard to both employing agency as well as locale.)

I did have "pay retention" in at least a couple of those instances as I recall but it did mean waiting a bit longer each time to climb back up the pay grade ladder. I have no regrets as I accomplished my mission.

Frankly, I'm amazed by the unwillingness of some to make any sacrifices in furtherance of eventually getting to their destination.

I applaud your willingness to make the right / hard choice. :beer
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby prudent » Wed May 01, 2013 1:25 pm

First, I would want to be able to offer compelling reasons for the move, none of which would include "that job would be easier for me" if at all possible. A better career path, expand your areas of expertise so you can make greater contributions, whatever.

I would go into this with the assumption nothing would happen to my pay. If they bring up the idea of a pay cut, then point out you would be below the midpoint AND are able to execute the job at a level commensurate with being at that point in the pay scale, and a reduction in pay is not warranted.

My position would be if I can perform the new job at a level that matches where I would be in the pay scale, and that is the amount I am making now, it is not a step down even if an org chart might make it look that way. I might not win the argument, but that's how I would approach it.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby joe8d » Wed May 01, 2013 10:05 pm

moneyfornothing wrote:Hello all!

I am currently in a management position in a technical group, and I'm considering applying for a staff position in another department. I have my reasons for this - less hours worked (or at least actually getting paid when working extra), less responsibility, not having to be on-call, not having to carry a phone/laptop/etc, being able to "check out" at the end of my shift, and less overall job stress. Although it would be a step down in title and in responsibility, it wouldn't necessarily affect my pay, since I know my current pay still fits in the pay scale of the tech position. In fact, since I am already well underpaid, even if my salary was matched in the lower position, I would still be making less than the midpoint of the lower position. I don't if it's possible with HR rules, but I would even consider trying to negotiate an increase if an offer was made. I am crazy to think this? Has anyone else considered or actually made a step back in your career? Any regrets? Thank you!


All I can say is there is a good chance the company would just let you go if you made that request for the reasons stated.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby livesoft » Wed May 01, 2013 10:43 pm

I used to be something called a Vice President, I gave my job to someone else working for me and became something close to a PITA but with half the hours. It was clearly stepping down.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby B'Falls_JT » Wed May 01, 2013 10:58 pm

Hi Moneyfornothing,

I had a similar situation several years ago. I managed a team of project managers. The work was already hectic, and I was experiencing some stress-related health problems that caused some concern for me. In addition, my management was changing, and the job situation was changing: i.e... more hours, more travel, more stress, etc. I made a jump to another team as a "solo practitioner" doing predominately project management work on small focused projects. Initially, I was able to make the move without any changes to my salary and benefits. Then I got lucky... In the first year in the new job, I received a raise, a bonus, and a performance reward. For me personally, this turned out to be a great move (from both quality of life and financial perspectives), and obviously there have been no regrets.

Just a couple of suggestions for what it's worth... Before making the move, verify that you will not lose any salary/benefits/bonus potential. Also, it's good to think about you'll handle your own self-perception and others' perception of you related to this change.

Best of luck,

JT
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby lwfitzge » Wed May 01, 2013 11:00 pm

in my industry, there always were parallel (HR defined) bench science vs management tracks that people would cross during there career, usually only one time. If you are referring to one track where people would go back a grade, not in my line of work and if they tried it would be viewed negatively and lead eventually to an exit w the company. Only you know the culture and flexibility of your company/industry... my little part of world was not very flexible within company except if you managed to make a career change into an entirely different group to learn new skills... eg., research manager and move into development or marketing position (nonmanagerial position)...
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby Steelersfan » Wed May 01, 2013 11:08 pm

I did exactly that, about five years before my eventual retirement. The first three years worked out just as I expected and were fine. The last two weren't so great as my position changed again, not at my request. but my salary never suffered, just my job satisfaction.

Expect that at some point stepping off the career treadmill will come back to affect you in ways you can't predict. It may well still work out, as it did for me. I'm not sorry I made the choice I did, although I didn't enjoy those last couple of years. Making the decision nearer to my possible retirement made it an easier choice for me than it might be for you.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby tractorguy » Wed May 01, 2013 11:20 pm

I personally haven't done this but I've known several people in my former company that made the move from a line management role to a staff role at the same pay grade. In almost all cases, this had no affect on their current salary or job security. In some cases, it may have reduced the opportunities for future promotions or pay raises. My company was very large and had a well defined parallel management and technical expert career tracks. The people in question were just moving from one track to the other.

The people who were most successful in the switch were highly regarded for their technical expertise, had very, very good communication skills, and had an extensive network of peers within the company. In order to justify high salaries in a technical role, the project leader or technical expert has to demonstrate as much impact on the bottom line as a person managing several people. In many ways, this is much harder than being a line manager. A highly paid individual performer has to not only be able to have good ideas and be an expert, he/she has to influence people to adopt those ideas or follow his/her recommended course of action. A line manager can do this by virtue of their positional authority (ie, do it my way because I'm the boss). A staff person has to be willing to spend the time to persuade people to follow their advice. In my experience, this is harder. The one's who were effective in the staff role made full use of their reputation, communication skills, and peer network to sell their viewpoints and make sure management knew where the ideas were coming from.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby THY4373 » Thu May 02, 2013 8:46 am

tractorguy wrote:The people who were most successful in the switch were highly regarded for their technical expertise, had very, very good communication skills, and had an extensive network of peers within the company. In order to justify high salaries in a technical role, the project leader or technical expert has to demonstrate as much impact on the bottom line as a person managing several people. In many ways, this is much harder than being a line manager. A highly paid individual performer has to not only be able to have good ideas and be an expert, he/she has to influence people to adopt those ideas or follow his/her recommended course of action. A line manager can do this by virtue of their positional authority (ie, do it my way because I'm the boss). A staff person has to be willing to spend the time to persuade people to follow their advice. In my experience, this is harder. The one's who were effective in the staff role made full use of their reputation, communication skills, and peer network to sell their viewpoints and make sure management knew where the ideas were coming from.


This pretty much sums up my experience. My company has parallel technical and managerial tracks. Which basically allow a technical expert to raise to the level of a upper manager (basically right below the AVP level). In rare instances even an AVP level can be had. Basically I made a decision to stay on the technical track and not hop over to management. I have never regretted this. While I sometimes work long hours in general it is less stressful than what my management has experienced. Also until recently I was actually a higher grade than the manager I reported too (he recently got promoted so we are equal now--which I prefer honestly). Tractorguy pretty much sums up what it has taken for me to be a success in technical expert role. It is not "easy" but I prefer it to management.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby Old Guy » Thu May 02, 2013 9:15 am

I gave up my first level supervisor's position in the Federal Government, a position I had long wanted, to return to a staff position. It had come to me at the wrong time in my career. I was able to retain my grade, which I had before taking the supervisory role. I was much happier. I had a kid of my own, I didn't need to be a parent to seven other people, one of whom was a drunk; another who wouldn't talk to me; a third who was an idiot; and a fourth who wouldn't take direction.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby cheese_breath » Thu May 02, 2013 9:53 am

I can’t advise you what to do except to be sure you understand the requirements and demands of the staff job first. Also be aware that you may be older than your younger, more energetic peers and your performance might be judged in comparison to theirs. I made the move from management back into the technical track in my 50s because I didn’t agree with some company ethics and couldn’t stomach supporting them. I had been a fairly decent techie before going into management and was able to get back up to speed reasonable well, but keeping up with the young guys wanting to work 12 or more hours every day almost did me in. Sometimes when you get to the other side of the fence the grass isn’t as green as you thought.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby nisiprius » Thu May 02, 2013 12:45 pm

One of the best engineers I've ever known took on a management position for a couple of years. He was managing about six people. He moved from a cubicle to a floor-to-ceiling office. I did not report to him directly but he seemed to be a good manager. After a few years, he gave it up and returned to an "Individual contributor" position (and moved back to a cubicle). I have never heard him express any regrets, and I did not see any indications of it being a career problem for him. I'm not privy to salaries and such but he was at the top of the "individual contributor" ladder--one of my personal regrets is that I never got there, I was one notch below it when I was let go in late 2008. I doubt that his salary was much affected by the move.

In short, "stepping down" in terms of managerial authority seemed to be a perfectly satisfactory move for him.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby central nj » Thu May 02, 2013 5:49 pm

Are you taking on too many unnecessary tasks in your management position? Could you modify how you lead your team (aka the One Minute Manager), to reduce your workload? Set your expectations, offer to help with big ideas, but expect the team member to solve the problems as they arise.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby Paul78 » Thu May 02, 2013 6:15 pm

Old Guy wrote:I gave up my first level supervisor's position in the Federal Government, a position I had long wanted, to return to a staff position. It had come to me at the wrong time in my career. I was able to retain my grade, which I had before taking the supervisory role. I was much happier. I had a kid of my own, I didn't need to be a parent to seven other people, one of whom was a drunk; another who wouldn't talk to me; a third who was an idiot; and a fourth who wouldn't take direction.


supervisor in the federal government = no fun.


Assuming the other 3 we decent/good employees. 3 out of 7 is pretty normal for a job with federal government. lol
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby tmhudg » Thu May 02, 2013 7:00 pm

I'm not sure how closely my situation matches yours but I did something similar. I've always been on the tech side. I did a stint of "Group Leader" a long time ago which had components of management and I never really liked it. A couple of years ago I was pressed into managing a small group of my peer engineers. I went from actually "doing" stuff to having other people do it and then reporting on it to other managers. Went from a cube to an office, etc. Hated it. I hated making political decisions instead of logical ones. Hated worrying about my employees' career paths (I can barely manage my own). Hated watching other people playing with new equipment and actually "making" things work while I pulled together Power Point presentations on Team Skill Mix.

I finally decided I had had enough and asked to move back to the Technical side. I basically switched tracks as has been mentioned so there was no pay or grade reduction. I was a little worried that people would think that I got demoted or something and I think many people were surprised because it "seemed" like a step backwards to them. I was miserable and hating going in each day though so I had to do it.

Best decision I ever made. I got involved in new projects and learned (and *did*) new things and it has been terrific. After I did it, I had several other managers ask me how I did it and how it was working out - as in they were wishing they could do the same thing...

Obviously, there's no way to tell if things would work out similarly for you but I basically took the "Life is too short to be unhappy" approach.

Good luck!
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby feh » Fri May 03, 2013 1:13 pm

I've never moved from management to the trenches, but I have avoided/refused stepping into a management position in the first place. The reasons are simple: I enjoy being a techie and I don't want to manage people.

There's no law that says one has to move into management after X number of years. Climbing the ladder for the purpose of climbing the ladder is for the birds (IMO, of course).
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby rjsob58 » Fri May 03, 2013 2:02 pm

I backed off almost 7 years ago and don't regret it. I work regular hours now (nights & weekends are rare), although still "on-call", I rarely need to do more than answer an email. I'm not stressed out when I get home. One trade-off has been that I would be making more if I stayed where I was. When I changed, I didn't take a cut in salary, but my yearly increases would probably be more. The other trade-off is I am not nearly as "challenged" as before and sometimes it is too routine. So I am not as fullfilled at work as I used to be, but my overall quality of life is much better.
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Re: Considering stepping down

Postby leonard » Fri May 03, 2013 2:25 pm

Some organizations will look down on moving from manager to individual contributor. Others don't care. Only you know how much your organization looks for the full on Type A - never back down from a challenge - personality.

As much as I hate it - I would suggest playing a bit of office politics on this. Can you come up with a proposal where you group is absorbed by another team? Where you could argue cost savings, efficiency or whatever? And, in this re-org, you selflessly recommend that you relinquish management and move to an individual contributor role?

This might be worth a shot - cause you could get to what you want - an IC role - and help mitigate the perception that "you just couldn't handle it" or other downsides to the move.
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