Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

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silverskates
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Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by silverskates »

In the past 2 months, I have been approached by managers about taking over positions for people that are moving to more advanced roles. After some thought, I declined both offers because I truly love my current role (love my team, flexibility, feeling like I contribute, no travel, minimal stress, etc.). I've reached the ceiling of my current role but it still gives me the right amount of challenge with very little stress. Sometimes I feel like I should be climbing the corporate ladder and striving to earn more and more but the thought of that is totally unappealing to me. I go above and beyond in my role but I don't want more stress at work just to earn more money. Anything wrong with this? I'm 43 years old.

Job opportunity #1: Application owner (I work in IT)
Cons - 25-50% travel, direct customer interaction (phone and in-person), a lot of presentations, many meetings with upper management, my decision making/mistakes will impact thousands of customers, ability to schmooze which is exhausting to me, a lot more responsibility
Pros - Possible pay increase of $10-15k, no direct employees, could lead to more and more advanced roles with more money (these roles don't currently appeal to me at all -- more travel involved)

Job opportunity #2: Team lead
Cons - 15-20 direct employees (no one directly reports to me now), people manager so no longer seen as a subject matter expert (I'd be managing people that do jobs like I currently do), dealing with people issues
Pros - Possible pay increase of $10-15k

Current pay: 132k -- able to meet all financial goals
PowderDay9
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by PowderDay9 »

Are you sure the pay increase is only 10-15k more? That sounds low to go from no direct reports to leading a large team. If that really is the case then I'd suggest staying where you are as you really like your current position.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Sheepdog »

It may or may not be a problem for you. I can give an example of what happened to my son when he was offered an advancement and he declined it. He was single, in his early 40s. It required a move to another city, a city where he visited several times for his company in regards to his engineering responsibilities. He didn't want to move, so he declined. He was let go several months later. He believes that not accepting the advancement was the reason as he always had excellent reviews and his company was doing well financially.
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mortfree
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by mortfree »

For job opp 2. If you take it don’t be surprised if there are some direct reports who make more than you.

Same age. I am the SME and hanging in there at my company. Of course I haven’t been approached for advancement but I do get more (New) work from time to time.
invest4
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by invest4 »

I decided a long time ago that I was running a different race.

I have been a full time teleworker for 20+ years which has afforded me time with my family and flexibility that I had never imagined when I started my career.
My income is more than sufficient which allows me to provide for all of our needs and live comfortably now while also saving for the future.
My job has its stresses, but it is challenging / interesting and I enjoy it.

I dream of continuous employment (so far so good). In my experience, those people at the next rung on the leader are often the first to be targeted when there are workforce reductions. Of course, nothing is guaranteed and one must be careful about becoming stagnant, but I simply place a significantly high value on my life situation and will think long and hard about the potential trade-offs that may come with a change.

"Advancement" is in the eye of the beholder.
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btq96r
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by btq96r »

Nothing wrong with being comfortable, just try to think through if that job is there for the next few years, or until you're at the FI level.
awval999
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by awval999 »

I think it’s fine.
FYI eventually you will stop being asked.
IowaFarmBoy
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by IowaFarmBoy »

You didn't say what your current role is but I'm guessing you are a software dev. Those two opportunities both move into a management/leadership roles. Some people like those roles and enjoy them. Others get sucked dry by them. It sounds like you may tend toward the latter. I was a software dev till I retired a few months ago and never pursued management for that reason. Neither of your opportunities sound fun to me. I made nearly as much as our first line management. As others have said, I'd make sure staying in your current role won't hinder your long-term employment and then be happy if that is what you want. If it will hinder you long term, you will have some harder decisions to make.
stoptothink
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by stoptothink »

I have a scheduled meeting with my boss (CMO) Tuesday and have been led to believe by a few different colleagues that the reason for the meeting is to discuss the possibility of a promotion. A year ago I would have jumped, but unless it is a significant compensation increase (which I am almost certain it isn't) I'm going to turn it down. I have gotten very comfortable in my role, with my team, and especially the autonomy I have to work whenever/wherever. I'm almost completely WFH at this point, which has been a difficult transition for my team, but has been great (productivity-wise) for me. This move would likely have me traveling a lot more, be expected to be in office whenever I am not, and spend more time directly overseeing people (currently "direct" a team of 27, but all the day-to-day is handled by the managers under me). We make more than plenty (and wife is lower on the corporate ladder, with higher upside due to industry - tech), so the trade-off probably isn't worth it.

Wife and I have discussed this multiple times recently and I am perfectly content now if I never climb higher. So, OP, I totally feel you.

39, senior director in health products industry, ~$125k/yr
DoTheMath
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by DoTheMath »

In both cases it sounds like ~10% pay increase for shifting a type of job you won't enjoy and substantially more responsibility. Seems like a raw deal. This isn't my field, but it seems like the better option if and when you want a change would be to look outside the company. It seems like here you've hit the ceiling of what you consider to be interesting and appealing work at your present employer.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Call_Me_Op »

silverskates wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:19 am In the past 2 months, I have been approached by managers about taking over positions for people that are moving to more advanced roles. After some thought, I declined both offers because I truly love my current role (love my team, flexibility, feeling like I contribute, no travel, minimal stress, etc.). I've reached the ceiling of my current role but it still gives me the right amount of challenge with very little stress. Sometimes I feel like I should be climbing the corporate ladder and striving to earn more and more but the thought of that is totally unappealing to me. I go above and beyond in my role but I don't want more stress at work just to earn more money. Anything wrong with this? I'm 43 years old.

Job opportunity #1: Application owner (I work in IT)
Cons - 25-50% travel, direct customer interaction (phone and in-person), a lot of presentations, many meetings with upper management, my decision making/mistakes will impact thousands of customers, ability to schmooze which is exhausting to me, a lot more responsibility
Pros - Possible pay increase of $10-15k, no direct employees, could lead to more and more advanced roles with more money (these roles don't currently appeal to me at all -- more travel involved)

Job opportunity #2: Team lead
Cons - 15-20 direct employees (no one directly reports to me now), people manager so no longer seen as a subject matter expert (I'd be managing people that do jobs like I currently do), dealing with people issues
Pros - Possible pay increase of $10-15k

Current pay: 132k -- able to meet all financial goals
More important to be doing what you enjoy.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

At my last company, they used to say subject matter experts were immune to cost reductions/job eliminations. Until 1 day a new management team showed up, then they were fair game. They let subject matter experts go by the dozens. They kept the management. That said, having to travel 25-50 percent of the time for a $10k bump seems quite low for compensation.
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BogleTaxPro
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by BogleTaxPro »

Be true to yourself. I chased the manager role early in my career and was miserable when I got it. I was lucky that circumstances changed and I was able to transition back to a contributor role. I never made that mistake again, no matter how flattered or tempted i was.
BillWalters
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by BillWalters »

I basically stopped trying to advance or make more money several years ago. My only challenge is not letting it negatively influence self esteem as I know many see it as weakness and/or failure. But with financial security there really is no rational reason for many people to take on extra work and stress.
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racy
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by racy »

It's your life. You get to decide how you want to live it.
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Raybo
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Raybo »

I recommend reading The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter. Here is a wikipedia entry on it. Essentially, it says that people are promoted until they are put in a job they can't do and there the promotions stop, leaving the workers frustrated and ineffective.

He even has suggestions on how to stop getting offered promotions without compromising ones current job. One suggestion is to park in the Dean's parking space (Peter was an academic). It doesn't impact one's job performance but does make people think you are not promotable!

He also suggests that turning down promotions eventually leads to being fired.

The book is written as satire but seems accurate nonetheless.
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catlady
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by catlady »

invest4 wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 5:00 am "Advancement" is in the eye of the beholder.
This. For me, one of the benefits of investing like a Boglehead for the last decade is having more flexibility now and not needing to take these types of “promotions” to meet financial goals.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by carolinaman »

Are you comfortable doing what you are doing now and at that level of compensation for the rest of your career? If so, staying where you are is probably ok. At some point, your opportunities for advancement will stop and you may not get those chances again. There are risks in moving up and there are risks in staying put. One risk in staying put is higher compensated staff, especially older ones, are sometimes targets for staff reductions.

I spent 10 years in IT in technical role before I got an opportunity for management, I took it and never regretted it. In the beginning I was not very good managing people, but I learned how. As i progressed into 2nd and 3rd level management roles, I was not initially comfortable with things like strategic planning, organizational politics and budgets, but I learned. Some people find a place of comfort and competence and are content to stay there. Others are willing to take more risk and deal with the discomfort of new challenges and ambiguity. There is nothing wrong with either choice.
egrets
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by egrets »

Being content is okay. I would not give up a job you really like to get into the rat race.
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market timer
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by market timer »

PowderDay9 wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:50 am Are you sure the pay increase is only 10-15k more? That sounds low to go from no direct reports to leading a large team. If that really is the case then I'd suggest staying where you are as you really like your current position.
Yes, a $10-15K increase sounds too low. However, this could be an opportunity to negotiate for >$200K total compensation. Management tends to be retained with golden handcuffs. If you are interested in earning $200-300K, I'd suggest using the potential promotion as an opportunity negotiate a real step change in compensation.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Boglegrappler »

I'm not that familiar with your industry. But there are organizational behavior patterns that recurr in many places.

I have sympathy for the sense that you like where you are, and would rather not make a change. Changes have risks associated with them.

But I think one thing that people can easily underestimate is the risk of simply continuing to do what you currently do. Sheepdog's post above is an example, and there are plenty more. If you are in management, when a time comes to reduce staff, you will get to be on the deciding end instead of the receiving end of the decision. As you get older, this can be very important.

Good luck deciding what to do.
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Cheez-It Guy
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Cheez-It Guy »

I have no desire to climb any higher than where I am now. There are no positions above mine that I truly respect or feel I would enjoy. Enough is enough. Nothing wrong with that.
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ClevrChico
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by ClevrChico »

My life rule is not to rock the boat when things are going well. I'm in a similar place as you, and I'd hard pass on both. There are plenty of people willing to work soul crushing jobs for $150k, so they'll have no problem finding someone else. :-)

(50% travel is nasty and sacrificing tech skills to become a disposable middle manager is not wise, especially in 2020.)
BuddyJet
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by BuddyJet »

As another who finds schmoozing exhausting, you have another vote to pass on those promotions.

However, is there a promotion not offered that fits your personality type and skill set? Is there a different path to advance. Even lateral to a new area for a new challenge.
Last edited by BuddyJet on Sat Sep 05, 2020 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by rich126 »

I'm sure it also depends on your field. In technology I think it is an advantage to avoid management and stay technical. Much easier to find another job if you need to. In other fields it may be different.

I've enjoyed technical work and haven't had any desire to go away from it. Also I have zero interest in working long hours so unless I'm compensated for my time over 40 hours I avoid any roles that may require it (even if they don't truly require it but it seems like people do it to "look good"). Obviously not everyone is so lucky but you only live once and I don't plan to be at work any longer than I need to.

I honestly don't think there is an absolute answer to your question. In some cases yes, and in other cases it will be no. Are they asking because they really need you to take the job, or is it a case where they have a few options but wanted to give you a chance in case you wanted it?
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by GmanJeff »

As others have alluded to, look beyond the negatives of the near-term opportunities and consider your long-term ambitions. It is often necessary to spend some time in relatively unattractive intermediate roles as a prerequisite to eventually achieving very desirable levels of authority, autonomy, and compensation you will otherwise be unqualified for.

There's nothing wrong with not being ambitious, but there are opportunity costs in staying put, and potentially substantial rewards for advancing. It's all about what you want 10, 15, or more years out, as well as the short-term impacts you anticipate.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Watty »

silverskates wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:19 am (I work in IT)
It would help to know a bit more about what you do now.

I was a software developer in corporate IT and I voluntarily retired a few years ago when I was 58. I never went into management because I did not have the right personality for it and the few times I dabbled in management I hated doing it. I also never really had any pressure to move into management since it was pretty obvious that I was a "techie".

I remember talking about not going into management with some of the software developers I worked with and one of them tried to compare it to being a dentist. That is if someone becomes a dentist in their 20s they may do that entire career and it would not seem odd that they did not go into management.

That might be a bit idealized(or maybe wishful thinking) though since dentists will need to learn new technology but their job will stay basically the same. In IT there is so much change that the job will change dramatically over the years so doing the same thing for 35 or 40 years in not really possible.

As a technical worker in IT about every 10 or 15 years or so you will need to make a transition to the next new technology and in my experience maybe a third of people do not end up doing that transition to the next technology. Over your career you may need to do this several times so the odds of you being able to do this successfully several times are not great if you want to be a hands on technical worker your entire career.

For some people that is not so bad though since they may shift to be in an business analyst or management roll but for some people that means they will be out of a job and will need to find some unrelated job that might be a lot lower paying.

A few people may be able to stretch a career out for another 10+ years supporting old technolcy until it goes away. That is what I did for about the last ten to fifteen years of my career. Part of the reason that I was able to to do that was that I worked in an industry where there were lots of separate facilities that were very expensive to convert to new technology so any big changes were phased in over a long period of time. I also became a "go to" person who was the expert in how to do some of the parts of facility conversions to the new systems since you really needed to know the old system to convert it well.

For pretty much any technical worker I would highly suggest having their finances in order so that they will be able to retire by their mid 50s if they need to.

I my case the company I was working at went through a merger during a recession and the office I was working in was shut down so to keep my job I needed to relocate to the other side of the country. This was in the recession after the dot com bust so few companies were hiring IT people so I made the move, which also had some other plusses so it was OK for me but it was a big change. The IT department I was in had about 25 people and only three of us relocated in that merger. The rest of the people were laid off. Some people retired, some moved out of IT since they could not find an IT job, and some took less desirable IT jobs. Only a couple of people were able to find a similar job because it was in a recession.

It sounds like the positions you were offered were a bad fit for you. Even if you normally like to travel doing 25 to 50 percent travel in the middle of a pandemic would be a non-starter for me. In addition the second job where you would have 15-20 direct reports is way too many people to be directly reporting to one person even if they were an experienced team leader. As I recall having about 7 or 8 direct reports is considered to be the ideal team size.

Frankly from the little you said both of those jobs sort of sound like they would suck even if you wanted to get into management.

The increase in salary was not a lot for either of the positions but sometimes big raises will not be given until you have proved that you can do the job.

It sounds like the company you are working for is growing since they were trying to fill positions where someone has been promoted and it also sounds like they really like you. They may be offering you the management positions to keep you from leaving.

One thing you might consider doing is thinking what your dream job would look like and then talk with your manager about making a position with more responsibility more like that for you even if that position does not exist now. For example instead of becoming a people manager you might be become an application architect. Or if you really like doing the hands on technical work you might become the person who is in charge of selecting which technology and tools the company will use in the future.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Normchad »

Give some thought to how this might look to the people in the company that control your pay and your future. Will they see this as a sign that “you’re not a team player”, or “just want to skate by”. Those may sound offensive to you, but they might think that. These people have already made the decision to do those roles, so in their minds, taking those roles is the right thing to do, and eschewing them makes little sense to them; or is a rejection of their life choices and a rejection of a gift they have offered to you.

Also, a lot of the people that get laid off in their 40s and 50s, and never get another (good) job? A lot of them were content, and fell in a ruinous rut where they becomes masters of a shrinking niche, never took opportunities, never grew, never developed any management team skills or a network of industry peers and advocates. That contentment can lead you to a very vulnerable place.
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Cheez-It Guy
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Cheez-It Guy »

One of the joys of financial freedom is that you don't have to play these stupid mind games unless you choose to. I don't really care what management thinks I should do with my career. It's my decision, not theirs. If that bothers them so much that they choose to part ways with me, that's fine too.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by flaccidsteele »

In general, company executives offer promotions to their favorites because they want that employee to contribute and to eventually join their ranks

If an employee passes up on a promotion they are quickly forgotten and a new favorite is found to replace them. Former favorites are viewed differently after passing on a promotion and may be sidelined

There are pros and cons of being favored in the workplace

Unless an employee is willing to retire or otherwise leave the company, it’s generally a good idea to take a promotion. Otherwise the employee shouldn’t be upset if they are treated differently after passing on a promotion
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silverskates
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by silverskates »

Thank you for all the well thought out responses! I greatly appreciate it.

I'm going to try to answer the questions I saw as I was reading through all the posts.
1. I have 4 kids and am currently working from home full time which I love (I could be back in the office after COVID though)
2. I work on a software development team wearing many hats (project manager, analyst, subject matter expert for others on my team as well as others training and working with customers on our software).
3. I don't worry about being let go since declining both opportunities...it could happen but I'd be very surprised. I was approached about both roles because those asking (both are people I know well at work) think I would do a good job but both admitted there would be downsides and there was no guarantee I would even get any form of pay increase since I'm paid quite well doing my current role. I know there are people in the App owner role now that make less than I do and don't like all the people they have to deal with.
4. 90% of the people where I work start and never leave (30+ years with the company). It is very known by all that there is not much room for advancement.
5. The job I have now has evolved into something I love without me really doing anything. As the industry changed, my role shifted and I now love what I do. I'm hoping this will continue happening without any effort on my part...maybe my problem is that I'm just lazy when it comes to my career! ;)

What it all comes down to for me is my overall life happiness and balance. The thought of planning for all the travel (getting airfare, rental car, figuring out where I'm going, packing, etc.) and then doing the travel (yuck) makes me sick. If I knew I had to get up very early on a Monday morning (or leave the night before), catch a plane and be gone for 4 days I would have a miserable weekend (and my family would hate it). Typing this all out and hearing your responses has confirmed my decision. Thank you!
srt7
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by srt7 »

My take is that management likes you and wants to keep you on their team. BUT you are making significantly more (read as more costly) in your current role (hint: the relatively lower raise of $10K - $15K) compared to your peers. Unless you fall within a profit center this is a BIG problem for them.

So they gave you 2 opportunities. If I were to guess, the Team Lead option was given first but since you declined (possibly due to not wanting people mgmt. "headaches") they offered you a Product Mgmt. role next.

If my assumptions above are correct then I would start interviewing.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Afty »

IMO it would be a very bad idea to go from 0 direct employees to 15-20. That’s a recipe for disaster, especially when you haven’t managed before. Where I work (in software), when someone becomes a manager they typically start with only 2-4 reports, and even experienced managers try not to exceed 10, otherwise you can’t give each employee sufficient attention. When a manager’s direct reports approaches 10, a good manager starts preparing someone else to become a sub-manager to manage part of the team.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Dyloot »

silverskates wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:19 am In the past 2 months, I have been approached by managers about taking over positions for people that are moving to more advanced roles. After some thought, I declined both offers because I truly love my current role (love my team, flexibility, feeling like I contribute, no travel, minimal stress, etc.). I've reached the ceiling of my current role but it still gives me the right amount of challenge with very little stress. Sometimes I feel like I should be climbing the corporate ladder and striving to earn more and more but the thought of that is totally unappealing to me. I go above and beyond in my role but I don't want more stress at work just to earn more money. Anything wrong with this? I'm 43 years old.

Job opportunity #1: Application owner (I work in IT)
Cons - 25-50% travel, direct customer interaction (phone and in-person), a lot of presentations, many meetings with upper management, my decision making/mistakes will impact thousands of customers, ability to schmooze which is exhausting to me, a lot more responsibility
Pros - Possible pay increase of $10-15k, no direct employees, could lead to more and more advanced roles with more money (these roles don't currently appeal to me at all -- more travel involved)

Job opportunity #2: Team lead
Cons - 15-20 direct employees (no one directly reports to me now), people manager so no longer seen as a subject matter expert (I'd be managing people that do jobs like I currently do), dealing with people issues
Pros - Possible pay increase of $10-15k

Current pay: 132k -- able to meet all financial goals
My .02, and I'm no expert.

So, you're a high performer who has hit the ceiling in your current gig. You've been recognized as a candidate for promotion and offered new job roles that are different from the role in which you're a high performer. You'd like more money, but you also like what you're doing and have no desire to do anything different.

I work in technology support as well, and I've heard variations of this story many times at medium size businesses. I've found no easy answer other than moving to a different company who is willing to pay you more for the work you want to do. I did that myself 4 years ago, moving from the medium size business to a megacorp for a much higher salary and much better benefits (retirement, PTO, health insurance coverage and costs).

The cards sound somewhat stacked against you in terms of salary growth--and I've experienced this myself. The companies I've worked for tend to have a 10% increase ceiling for promotions--even if that means the high performer will make less in the position than someone hired off the street for the same gig. I'm sure there are exceptions, but in my experience as both an IC and a people manager those don't seem common--even when high performing members of the team are involved. I assume these rules exist to control costs, and the loss of some employees who leave is less to the company than the cost of giving out higher raises to large groups of employees.

So, where does that leave you, the IC who is happy with the gig but wants more money? If it were me, I'd be having conversations with your boss about your overall enjoyment of the position and understanding what opportunities there are for you (in terms of promotions, compensation, and skill development). Let him know you're much more interested in developing your tech skill sets than moving into management or as a product manager who spends his or her day interacting with customers or presenting in meetings.

And, ultimately, I'd keep an eye out for what opportunities exist at other companies. It may be the culture at your work doesn't really allow the IC to continue developing his or her career, but a move across town may yield excellent results.

Good luck!
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by KyleAAA »

Only if you want to become a manager or a product owner. $10-15k increase is basically nothing, but you could leverage 2 years in the role to a huge payday by switching employers. But of course, that isn't attractive if you don't actually want to take your career in that direction.

Speaking of paydays, I bet you could get more than $10-15k jumping employers as an IC now.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by silverskates »

srt7 wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:11 am My take is that management likes you and wants to keep you on their team. BUT you are making significantly more (read as more costly) in your current role (hint: the relatively lower raise of $10K - $15K) compared to your peers. Unless you fall within a profit center this is a BIG problem for them.

So they gave you 2 opportunities. If I were to guess, the Team Lead option was given first but since you declined (possibly due to not wanting people mgmt. "headaches") they offered you a Product Mgmt. role next.

If my assumptions above are correct then I would start interviewing.
I'm still under the average pay for my role and level so not paid too much for what I do. The Team Lead role is seen as more of a supervisor and most people reporting to me would be paid much more than me. I assume I'd be one of the 1st to get fired if job cuts rolled around since I'd be a non-contributor. For the App Owner role, I'd be moving out of IT into the business side hence the small pay increase or no increase at all.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by cashboy »

silverskates wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:19 am I've reached the ceiling of my current role but it still gives me the right amount of challenge with very little stress.
I worked in IT for 40 years.

Beware of this above (reaching the ceiling of your current role)
as the time will come (if it has not come already)
that you are viewed as being overpaid/highly-paid for your role (regardless of how good you are - and i mean that in a nice way)
and able to be replaced by a less expensive resource.

i hope that is not the case, but it is a possibility. If you are being offered positions with more responsibility, but limited increases, it might be a warning that your current pay is viewed as 'high'.

you might want to consider speaking to these managers and see if you can 'customize' the #2 position (or any future opportunities) so that you are a 'hands on manager' - part time people manager; part time engineer/technician.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by silverskates »

Dyloot wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:25 am
silverskates wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:19 am In the past 2 months, I have been approached by managers about taking over positions for people that are moving to more advanced roles. After some thought, I declined both offers because I truly love my current role (love my team, flexibility, feeling like I contribute, no travel, minimal stress, etc.). I've reached the ceiling of my current role but it still gives me the right amount of challenge with very little stress. Sometimes I feel like I should be climbing the corporate ladder and striving to earn more and more but the thought of that is totally unappealing to me. I go above and beyond in my role but I don't want more stress at work just to earn more money. Anything wrong with this? I'm 43 years old.

Job opportunity #1: Application owner (I work in IT)
Cons - 25-50% travel, direct customer interaction (phone and in-person), a lot of presentations, many meetings with upper management, my decision making/mistakes will impact thousands of customers, ability to schmooze which is exhausting to me, a lot more responsibility
Pros - Possible pay increase of $10-15k, no direct employees, could lead to more and more advanced roles with more money (these roles don't currently appeal to me at all -- more travel involved)

Job opportunity #2: Team lead
Cons - 15-20 direct employees (no one directly reports to me now), people manager so no longer seen as a subject matter expert (I'd be managing people that do jobs like I currently do), dealing with people issues
Pros - Possible pay increase of $10-15k

Current pay: 132k -- able to meet all financial goals
My .02, and I'm no expert.

So, you're a high performer who has hit the ceiling in your current gig. You've been recognized as a candidate for promotion and offered new job roles that are different from the role in which you're a high performer. You'd like more money, but you also like what you're doing and have no desire to do anything different.

I work in technology support as well, and I've heard variations of this story many times at medium size businesses. I've found no easy answer other than moving to a different company who is willing to pay you more for the work you want to do. I did that myself 4 years ago, moving from the medium size business to a megacorp for a much higher salary and much better benefits (retirement, PTO, health insurance coverage and costs).

The cards sound somewhat stacked against you in terms of salary growth--and I've experienced this myself. The companies I've worked for tend to have a 10% increase ceiling for promotions--even if that means the high performer will make less in the position than someone hired off the street for the same gig. I'm sure there are exceptions, but in my experience as both an IC and a people manager those don't seem common--even when high performing members of the team are involved. I assume these rules exist to control costs, and the loss of some employees who leave is less to the company than the cost of giving out higher raises to large groups of employees.

So, where does that leave you, the IC who is happy with the gig but wants more money? If it were me, I'd be having conversations with your boss about your overall enjoyment of the position and understanding what opportunities there are for you (in terms of promotions, compensation, and skill development). Let him know you're much more interested in developing your tech skill sets than moving into management or as a product manager who spends his or her day interacting with customers or presenting in meetings.

And, ultimately, I'd keep an eye out for what opportunities exist at other companies. It may be the culture at your work doesn't really allow the IC to continue developing his or her career, but a move across town may yield excellent results.

Good luck!
In blue - this is exactly what I've been moving towards...thank you for the confirmation! As for looking for a different job outside the company, I enjoy the low-stress work, people, 13% match, 8 weeks vacation, 10 holidays, no commute, laid back environment so looking elsewhere isn't my top choice at this moment.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by srt7 »

silverskates wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:33 am
srt7 wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:11 am My take is that management likes you and wants to keep you on their team. BUT you are making significantly more (read as more costly) in your current role (hint: the relatively lower raise of $10K - $15K) compared to your peers. Unless you fall within a profit center this is a BIG problem for them.

So they gave you 2 opportunities. If I were to guess, the Team Lead option was given first but since you declined (possibly due to not wanting people mgmt. "headaches") they offered you a Product Mgmt. role next.

If my assumptions above are correct then I would start interviewing.
I'm still under the average pay for my role and level so not paid too much for what I do. The Team Lead role is seen as more of a supervisor and most people reporting to me would be paid much more than me. I assume I'd be one of the 1st to get fired if job cuts rolled around since I'd be a non-contributor. For the App Owner role, I'd be moving out of IT into the business side hence the small pay increase or no increase at all.
OK. That brings up a different issue but no point delving in to it.

Bottomline: Do YOU WANT to be a people or product manager? Based on your two (rightful and honest) rejections it does not seem so. Look, it is challenging enough for one to be at the top of their game so no point making it any harder accepting unwanted challenges that don't align with your career path.

Only downside here is that you may need to shift your mindset from considering this job as a forever one and realign your thinking to consider other more "fun" opportunities that leverage your skills and work towards your career path. This will not be easy but once you get out of this comfort zone you will be roaring to get going.

Good luck!
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by BrooklynInvest »

For me these are long term questions if you're 43 and have, say, 15+ years more work ahead

- Will your current role provide the right level of challenges to keep you engaged and motivated?

- Will you be able to increase your worth to the company/salary in your current role?

Management's not for everyone, especially if the team is large but the experience may be beneficial to you. Good luck!
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by MrDrinkingWater »

The low bump up in salary could reflect two different things: Either (1) the company does not place a premium on folks moving into a supervisor role and the lowest rung of coded management role, or (2) you are in the uppermost or second-uppermost quartile of compensation in your technical role.

There was a time at many companies where managers were paid 30% to 50% more than the experienced employees who are reporting to them. This may not be so true anymore. If you are somewhere where it is still true, and your fringe benefits are also great, you are working at a pretty good company.

If the low bump up in salary is for Reason #1, the headaches of supervision and management doesn't make the promotion worth it. I would also say that if you can't see yourself moving up into the next-level-up manager position (let's call it "Senior Manager") within 4 years, then taking the lower-rung manager job probably isn't worth doing.

As an aside, does your employer describe the organization as having a technical ladder, management ladder, administrative ladder, and Research & Development ladder? Your employer may not be big enough or bureaucratized enough to be organized that way, but if they are organized that way, I just want to say that there is nothing that is wrong with wanting to stay an IT professional technical ladder and follow a career progression of IT Associate, IT "regular" worker, IT Specialist, IT Staff, IT Senior Staff, and IT Principal. The only problem with that plan is that some companies do sometimes make strategic cuts in completely legal ways to layoff the expensive Staff, Senior Staff, and Principal positions periodically. The danger zone for a lot of Staff, Senior Staff, and Principals will be when they are between the ages of 48 and 54, so just stay aware of that.
Last edited by MrDrinkingWater on Sat Sep 05, 2020 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
lifeisinmirrors
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by lifeisinmirrors »

I think a 10% raise isn't enough for either role. It is probably a pay cut if you broke it down to an hourly wage.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by srt7 »

MrDrinkingWater wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 12:31 pm The low bump up in salary could reflect to different things: Either (1) the company does not place a premium on folks moving into a supervisor role and the lowest rung of coded management role, or (2) you are in the uppermost or second-uppermost quartile of compensation in your technical role.

There was a time at many companies where managers were paid 30% to 50% more than the experienced employees who are reporting to them. This may not be so true anymore. If you are somewhere where it is still true, and your fringe benefits are also great, you are working at a pretty good company.

If the low bump up in salary is for Reason #1, the headaches of supervision and management doesn't make the promotion worth it. I would also say that if you can't see yourself moving up into the next-level-up manager position (let's call it "Senior Manager") within 4 years, then taking the lower-rung manager job probably isn't worth doing.

As an aside, does your employer describe the organization as having a technical ladder, management ladder, administrative ladder, and Research & Development ladder? Your employer may not be big enough or bureaucratized enough to be organized that way, but if they are organized that way, I just want to say that there is nothing that is wrong with wanting to stay an IT professional technical ladder and follow a career progression of IT Associate, IT "regular" worker, IT Specialist, IT Staff, IT Senior Staff, and IT Principal. The only problem with that plan is that some companies do sometimes make strategic cuts in completely legal ways to layoff the expensive Staff, Senior Staff, and Principal positions periodically. The danger zone for a lot of Staff, Senior Staff, and Principals will be when they are between the ages of 48 and 54, so just stay aware of that.
Bolded part is definitely where it gets dangerous. So even if a company has those separate ladders they are not apples to apples comparison when it comes to mgmt. vs. others (Tech, R&D etc.)
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Cycle »

Boglegrappler wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 9:02 am
But I think one thing that people can easily underestimate is the risk of simply continuing to do what you currently do. Sheepdog's post above is an example, and there are plenty more. If you are in management, when a time comes to reduce staff, you will get to be on the deciding end instead of the receiving end of the decision. As you get older, this can be very important.

Good luck deciding what to do.
I agree , but I don't think moving up necessarily buys one any safety from RIFs.

Our megacorp just flattened our org company wide, generally any manager with less than 10 direct reports was converted to an individual contributor or let go.

My manager, who was a director of engineering, was converted to a high level engineer. Same pay at that level whether people manager or IC... But I wonder how long they will pay an IC that much.

I have noticed in reorgs over the last 15 years, often the small-time managers are let go and the 2-3 SMEs in their group are retained when their group is liquidated.

I do still think Up or Out applies to individual contributors even if you don't choose to go the management route. If you aren't continually improving your skills and knowledge sharing, you will be on the short list during the next reorg. Management needs to see you as a knowledge sharer and thereby earning your keep.

The SMEs who are always presenting at tech forums and conferences are very rarely cought up in a RIF, and I think much more secure than lower management.

That being said, ageism is a thing and after age 45 it's best to view every year as a 1 year contract unless you own your own business. Best to get your ducks in a row so one isnt dependent on full time employment at megacorp past mid-40s.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Watty »

silverskates wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:08 am I work on a software development team wearing many hats (project manager, analyst, subject matter expert for others on my team as well as others training and working with customers on our software).
Your situation sounds similar to what mine was. Here are a few experiences that worked out for me that might be of interest. This are things that that more or less just sort of worked out for me and were not part of a Machiavellian plan that I had.

1) As part of my job I occasionally had to deal with corporate payroll data so I could not help but see what other people were making(except for bonuses). One of the dynamics to be sensitive about is that you are likely making as much if not more than relatively high level managers in many other departments. You may be making a fair salary for an IT job but it will still raise eyebrows when there is a budgeting meeting and some VP in a different department sees that you are making more than a manager in their department. There may be pressure from outside the IT department to control the cost of the IT staff positions since you are overhead and not a profit center.

2) Do not expect to retire from your current job. When there are layoffs the older higher paid people are almost always the first to go. The company that I retired from had been through a lot of mergers and buyouts but it has been around in one form or another for at least 75 years. The IT department has about 100 people in it. The interesting thing was that I was the very first person in the IT department to voluntarily retire. Some people had retired after being laid off with a severance package or because of health problems but I was the first to actually voluntarily retire. I would have been interesting to been in it but I heard that right after I gave my notice the IT management had a quick meeting with HR to figure out just what appropriate to do when someone retired since that had never happened before. If IT retirement lunches are not common at your company then that could be a sign that you may not make it until you retire. (Note: the lack of retirements is not just age discrimination. The number of IT jobs did not really ramp up until the 1980s so people that started IT careers in the 1980s are just now reaching retirement age.)

3) Whenever there was a problem with the system I was working on I was a bit obsessive about fixing it so that it would never happen again. I would also automate things as much as possible. Over the years this made the system pretty rock solid and not require a lot of trouble shooting. You might think that would make me more expendable but it sort of had the opposite effect since supporting it was usually less than a full time job for one person. The reason was that there was not a lot of work to do on that system so people were not cross trained on it much by handling problems with the system. When people were cross trained they would not use it for six months or more and they would quickly forget most of what they had been trained on. The lack of cross trained people meant that it would have been harder to lay me off.

4) I mainly worked on the inventory side of the business and only occasionally dealt with the accounting people. I was pretty good with Excel and data downloads so I became the informal go to person when someone had a question about either of those. Even though my official job didn't require much work with the accounting staff they would come to me when they needed some help and I could often help them in 20 minutes or occasionally a few hours if there was a big problem and I could make the time. I didn't have to do that but they really appreciated that help. It was not common but a few times when there was a major accounting problem with a customer or month end an accounting VP or director would call to ask if they could borrow me for the rest of the day or to have me join a meeting to help crunch the data. Having an accounting VP call an IT VP to ask for you does get noticed. It would not have been a "get out of jail free card" but if I been laid off I am sure that the IT managers would have been asked by the accounting execuaties about me being laid off, especially if there was a future problem and I was not there to help.

5) I tried to make a point about being easy to work with and if I had to tell someone "no" to something they were asking for I always tried to give them an alternative suggestion about how they could accomplish what they were asking for. When they are deciding who to layoff this can make a difference.

6) Adjusted for inflation my salary hit its peak by my mid 40s and after that it was a struggle to keep up with inflation and by the time I retired, adjusted for inflation, I was probably making 5 to 10 percent less than than I did at my peak. Having an earnings peak in your 40s is pretty common for a lot of fields.
Last edited by Watty on Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Cycle »

Afty wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:20 am IMO it would be a very bad idea to go from 0 direct employees to 15-20. That’s a recipe for disaster, especially when you haven’t managed before. Where I work (in software), when someone becomes a manager they typically start with only 2-4 reports, and even experienced managers try not to exceed 10, otherwise you can’t give each employee sufficient attention. When a manager’s direct reports approaches 10, a good manager starts preparing someone else to become a sub-manager to manage part of the team.
My company of 100k + just flattened our org so there are no managers with less than 12 direct reports. My manager, who was a director, has 10 or 11 and so his position was eliminated and he was moved into an IC engineering role.

Many questions of how anyone goes from an IC to sr. management when the job req requires years of management experience :oops:
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by k b »

Are you willing to work under / for much less talented people who advance because they are more open to those roles? What about when you are 50? Ok with being paid less and managed by a person whose tech skills you do not respect?

What if you are let go? Will your tech skills get you a similar job with similar compensation? And will that new job pay you that similar compensation without insisting on travel or managing people?
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Re: Declined 2 opportunities for advancement. Should I be trying to climb the corporate ladder or is being content okay?

Post by Cycle »

silverskates wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:40 am ....
As for looking for a different job outside the company, I enjoy the low-stress work, people, 13% match, 8 weeks vacation, 10 holidays, no commute, laid back environment so looking elsewhere isn't my top choice at this moment.
I would literally take a 30% pay cut for this. Especially if the culture is that everyone uses all 8 weeks vacation.
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