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About eight months ago I started working at an entry level position in a new company. I took the job even though they pay was low because there would be no overtime, the position was low stress and I wanted to spend more time with my family. So far I have been happy.

Last month my manager asked me if I was interested in a promotion to a position with more responsibility. I told him as diplomatically as possible that I was happy with my current position and was not interested. The new position would be a lot more responsibility and overtime work and I didn’t think the meager pay increase they were offering was worth it. In private conversations I’ve had with veterans at the company, everyone has advised me not to take the promotion as everyone who has done it before burns out and quits. The company knows this and tends to pick new employees like me who they think they can “trick” into taking this job.

Anyway, I thought that was the end of it, but now I’m hearing information through back channels that I will be asked (forced?) to take this promotion and my manager has setup meetings on my schedule to begin training for it.

My question is what is the best approach to take now? It seems too early to bring anything up with my manager as I haven’t been officially notified. On the other hand, I don’t want wait until it becomes inevitable that I will take this position. If I am forced to take it, how can I improve the working conditions and endure less stress?

  • 14
    what kind of job are you performing? – asktherecruiter Sep 8 '14 at 3:33
  • 5
    Could you provide more details? What do you do now? What kind of position do they want to promote you to? Are you a member of a union? – 200_success Sep 8 '14 at 10:24
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    If your manager already setup training for the new job then I wouldn't concider this "too early" to bring it up. "Why have you setup these training?". – the_lotus Sep 8 '14 at 13:40
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    Have you properly conveyed that the reason behind your original refusal was that the overtime would conflict with your family commitments? They could mistake 'happy as you are' as modesty, lack of confidence or negotiation. Clarity can be an important part of diplomacy. – JamesRyan Sep 8 '14 at 14:52
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    Can you please clarify on training? Have you "heard rumors" that you have training being scheduled, or do you have direct communication that you're scheduled for training? – Wesley Long Sep 8 '14 at 16:19
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You need to treat this like a job interview.

You are (presumably) going to be offered a new job. You know the demands of the job, and you need to decide what the conditions and compensation would be to make the job worth it to you.

When you are approached, you say, "I am willing to consider this new position. I would need X, Y, and Z in order to be effective at it, and I would expect the compensation to be in the neighborhood of ${Money}."

If they say, "We are going to offer you ${Money-x}, and we can give you X, but not Y and Z," you then respond with "Well, I don't believe I could be effective under those conditions, and the compensation is not enough for the level of responsibility of this position."

They say, "You don't have a choice. We're promoting you," you respond with, "So are you terminating me from my current position?"

And of course, as in any job interview, if you aren't prepared to leave it on the table, then you aren't negotiating, you're pleading. ("Leave it on the table" meaning to decline the offer in its entirety, rather than seek to alter the terms.)

I'd be looking for a viable escape route, just to play it safe, but as you said, it's too early to be looking for other jobs.

[Edit] Benjamin Gruenbaum disagrees. There is some small risk in "putting your name out there" and that it will come back to your employer that you are looking. As all you've heard so far is gossip and a "what if" question from your manager, I feel it's too early to be actively seeking another job. Mr. Gruenbaum has a different opinion. However, neither of our opinions here mean anything. You must manage your own career.

Also - here's an article from Forbes on exactly your situation.

[Edit2] A few comments state a belief that it is not too early to look for another job. Personally, I feel you should be looking for another job all the time, but I don't believe this particular situation has reached the point where immediate action is required. Besides, the point of this site is to offer answers/advice on "Navigating" the workplace, not fleeing it when you run into a little adversity.

  • 1
    *comments removed* Remember what comments are for. For extended discussions, Get a Room (a chat room). – enderland Sep 9 '14 at 16:34
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    Ultimately, if you're not willing to say no, you're not negotiating, but that doesn't mean you can't bluff for an extended period of time. – user8365 Feb 17 '16 at 13:12
24

One way of handling this issue is to articulate that you have a very busy and important family life. You can keep the details basic at first but let them know that you have to set boundaries on time commitment on the basis that your family time is sacred. If they continue to push and pressure you into management you can more explicitly tell them that you cannot permanently fulfill this role, citing a few more specific reasons, but in the interim you are willing to fill the role to your best ability until they can find a replacement.

This can communicate that you will refuse to work 60+ hours a week, and that you're not going to burn yourself out in fulfilling the role. However, it will also communicate that you are a "team player" and that you care about the success of the company.

If they hire you for the position and they express that you're "not working hard enough" or "pulling enough weight", this give you the opportunity to respond and tell them that they are correct. Let them know that you like the company and enjoy helping them succeed. However, you also now have the opportunity to tell them that they need to continue to look for the right fit for the position. You can even articulate that since you are evidently not that person, you could help them recruit a person who has what you don't have and has the drive and personality that is more of what they may be looking for in a manager.

Throughout all of your hiring discussions, I think it's important that you constantly stress that there are external needs and desires outside the company that are of greater importance to you than your work life. Sure, you care about the company but if family comes first, then tell them that. This includes soccer games, hiking with the family on the weekends, taking care of aging parents, etc., etc. Whatever. If it's important to you, set the boundary.

If they do not respect that, then you may need to look for a new job. If you are new to this position, this may be a hard fact to accept but this isn't a culture you want to be in.

There are organizations that understand the concept that work-life fulfillment is important but not at the expense of a successful life outside of a career. If you are in a company that is ran by managers that see their careers as the most important aspect of their lives, then they will require that of their mid-level management and, eventually, all of their employees.

As a family man, who has had to make similar choices, under similar circumstances, do what you have to do to find a workplace that respects the attitude of putting family-first. You will eventually thank yourself, and your partner and kids will too.

Yes, it is wise to try and make this situation work. However, you must also have an exit strategy if you see no reasonable way of solving this problem.

2

It appears that your manager is not taking "no" for an answer. Pretend that you are not aware of what they are up to, and send him and whoever else you know is involved an email telling him that you are comfortable and happy in your current position, and that you really don't want to change because it fis the right fit with your personal priorities and needs at the moment.

Needless to say, if they are still going ahead with their plans, then you are being muscled. It's probably be only a matter of weeks - you can certify that time estimate with your own back channels - before they make you an offer you can't refuse, so start making your own plans now. Making your own plans includes going over what options are available with your own back channels.

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    Sorry, I think sending an e-mail based on unconfirmed back channel information seems like a poor communication choice. Much better to discuss the veracity of the info in private with the manager face to face. – Hilmar Sep 8 '14 at 12:14
  • @Hilmar The manager is plotting to muscle the OP into accepting the promotion. The manager is NOT on the OP's side, at least on this issue. You're being naive. As for the OP's back channels, I presume that rightly or wrongly, the OP trusts their reliability and I am deferring to the OP on that. Do you know from your vantage point as an outsider something about the reliability of the OP's back channels that the OP doesn't? – Vietnhi Phuvan Sep 8 '14 at 12:26
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    I think confronting the manager based on back channels/gossip is putting those sources at risk. Wait for the manager to make the first move. – user8365 Sep 8 '14 at 14:01
1

If this position is really such an overtime killer, make them split it in two. So instead of burning out one person on 60 hours, they can have 2 happy 30 hour employees. Of course the stressfullness of the position needs a 30% higher income to compensate.

They will have someone who does the job, you will have more family time with same pay. And then quote Maggie Simpson: "These are my terms. I do not care to play by any others."

Don't agree to do the job full until they find a second person, it's a trap!!

With a family it is always good to look for a new job, just as backup precaution.

  • 1
    As an entry level employee who isn't respected enough to have his declination of the promotion offer honored, he probably won't have much success making suggestions for job design like that. I'd say that would be a hard sell to a company that intentionally doesn't respect work-life balance regardless of who's trying it. – John Straka Sep 9 '14 at 14:01
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    Maggie Simpson can't talk..? – Code Whisperer Sep 9 '14 at 18:59
  • @CodeWhisperer youtu.be/yiQjwR56enI?t=94 – Southpaw Hare May 14 at 5:31
1

Something that I haven't seen mentioned in the other comments, and that you haven't made clear that you have done, is to thoroughly review your official Position Description and Employee Contract, looking out for any ambiguities that might undermine your current goals.

Your current Position Description should outline what your current role is, and you can't really be "forced" to do something else by the company without them re-negotiating a new Position Description with you first. Take that last sentence with a grain of salt, employers can ask you to do "reasonable" things that aren't explicitly stated on your PD, but they can't force you to be doing a completely different job with different responsibilities while abandoning your stated responsibilities.

If you don't have anything in writing about what your current role in the company is (and how it is very clearly different to the role you don't want to have) then you need to get that clarified in writing ASAP, and not just because of the current situation.

If you do change your mind about re-negotiating the PD and accepting the new role, feel free to ask for the salary you think it is worth. What somebody else was paid, or is being paid, for a particular role is irrelevant, all that matters is what YOU negotiate for YOU. You do always have the ability to say no, although there is a chance you will lose your current job as well - but as it is an entry level position, I'd hope that this is not such a big deal in the scheme of things.

To avoid any grey area down the line, you will need to be firm about not doing work that falls outside your described role. If you start taking on tasks and responsibilities from this new role, even temporarily, you will be implicitly giving the company leverage to arrange to "update your PD to suit your current role", at which point everything will become far more awkward.

Also, before you freak out and go job hunting just so you can play Mr. Hardball Negotiator the moment that management approach you, here are a few things to consider in order to keep some perspective:

  • Is it really abnormal/unreasonable for the company to want to move quickly and ask more than once for something they want? Isn't that passion and refusal to simply give up at the first sign of trouble one of the reasons you work there in the first place?
  • If you take an every day situation (people's jobs change all the time) and turn it into an "us and them" drama, this will not end well for you
  • Does your company have a culture of aggressively promoting the "newbies" or firing them if they are not ambitious? I don't know the company or the role you're in, but it's possible that the company needs people moving through your "entry level" position relatively quickly simply so that new people can do exactly that, enter the company. If you're causing one of the company's talent pools to stagnate by not moving upwards or onwards then this will not end well for you. Is the company really "tricking" employees (that's very negative phrasing) or are they simply looking to ways to keep the "entry level" positions moving along as part of their basic HR strategy?
  • I don't think you need to rub it in your manager's faces that the new role "causes people to burn out and quit". I'm sure they're acutely aware of and not happy about that fact. A little tact here will go a long way towards things not ending badly for you.
  • Consider what you can see the company needs right now and long term, and how you fit into that before you consider your own needs. I don't mean this in a "do whatever your boss wants" kind of way, I mean this in the sense that if you think this way, you will gain some empathy (which it's not clear you currently have) and a better chance of getting what you want here
  • This might all be a false alarm, don't do anything that you'll regret later if this turns out to be all smoke and no fire
  • While you don't want a promotion now, you may indeed want to start climbing that ladder sometime in the future. Don't slam this open door too hard.
1

Free training is a beautiful thing. I suggest you take the training and then decide. If you still can't negotiate a new role that works for you then you have still advanced your career.

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