Q: I have been offered a promotion to a managerial position at my company in another department. I agree I have the talent and experience, and I am confident I could make a difference. My dilemma is that I am happy in my current job.
My department supervisor is phenomenal, and the work is creative, varied and satisfying. For the past several months, however, we have been under stress due to supply and labor shortages. This has led to odd hours and overtime, which I have always willingly agreed to do. This will hopefully end, but there are no promises. Also, although I am given responsibility above my pay grade, I do not foresee any time where a promotion in this department would be possible.
What attracts me to the new position is the regular hours with weekends off, a good pay raise, and interesting work that would still allow me to be creative. I would have a private office, but it would take me away from sales, customers and production. The person I would be reporting to is fine, but not my current terrific supervisor.
What questions should I be asking my company and myself? What factors I should be considering? How do I determine what is my best next move?
A: With all the stories of people who have gleefully joined the “Great Resignation” with no regrets, taking a higher-paying promotion with better hours might sound like a no-brainer.
But I understand your reluctance. Making the leap is easier when you’re miserable in your current situation, because you can’t imagine the alternative being worse. But you seem pretty happy where you are. A bird in the hand beats two in the bush, and all that.
But let’s take a closer look at that bird in hand. Fulfilling work and a “phenomenal” manager are obvious assets, but they might be causing you to gloss over the drawbacks, namely:
• The stress sounds temporary enough to be almost tolerable. But what if it ends up being the status quo? You don’t seem to mind the long hours, but what would happen if you had to stop accepting them for health or other personal reasons?
• “I am given responsibility above my pay grade” sounds almost like a perk — until you rephrase it as, “I do higher-value work than I am paid for.”
So, a simple pro-con list for your current job looks like this:
Pros: You love the work and your boss.
Cons: You are overworked and underpaid.
Now for the potential promotion, which has its own pros and cons.
Regular hours, more pay, and interesting work sound like obvious wins — if you trust your employer to uphold those promises. The private office and not having to deal with sales or customers all sound fantastic to me, but they might not appeal to someone who draws energy from being in the thick of things.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go for the birds in the bush, but you want to check first for poison ivy. Some questions to help with that:
• Is this a new position or a recent vacancy? Why has it been created or vacated?
• Are there people working in or adjacent to the new job and new boss who can give you a fuller picture of the position?
• How much flexibility will you have to set boundaries or tweak the scope of your new job to ensure a good fit for you?
The main question is this: How have you typically adapted to changes in your life up to this point? Since you enjoy creative and varied work and have found happiness where you are, even with the stress, my guess is you’re resilient enough to do the same in almost any new situation.
Finally, a thought that may make this decision feel less weighty: We tend to think in binary extremes, so every door holds the potential to lead to heaven or hell. But the truth is, most just lead … somewhere different.
You know what you’re getting if you stay in your comfort zone. You also know it’s all you’re going to get.