Author Topic: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?  (Read 1917 times)

StreetCat

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What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« on: November 25, 2017, 01:04:52 PM »
I work as a team lead (software development) in megacorp, and get paid reasonably well and the management has so far been happy with me.

However, the team is 12+ in size and most of it is junior developers with 1 mid-level and 1 other senior developer; this and other issues mean a lot of work all the time and it is worsening some of my pre-existing health conditions.  I'm thinking that I may not be best suited for this role and I may be better off just being a senior developer without having the burden of answering for someone else's performance.

I'm thinking of asking for reduced responsibilities along those lines (which will definitely reduce the pay - and I'm ok with that).

Question: Is there any risk in doing this?  Should I line up another job before I ask them, just in case things get ugly and if I'm forced to leave?

wordnerd

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2017, 01:54:30 PM »
It really depends on your workplace culture. In my workplace, it would be OK, and I wouldn't worry about having another job lined up. It may be different where you are. Have others successfully downshifted? I would think if you have been a good performer it shouldn't be an issue, but not knowing your workplace, I can't say for certain.

All that said, I might go into the conversation to discuss how to make your team more manageable. Based on everything I've ever heard 12 is way too big for one team with one team lead (I think the ideal team size is in the 4-7 range). Could you "deputize" the senior developer to help with management with responsibilities. Can they split it into two teams?

If not, then I think you should definitely step back to developer role. It's not worth your health. I'd talk to a trusted mentor in your organization before having the conversation with your management, though, to get a sense if there is a risk and advice on how to frame the conversation.

Lady SA

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2017, 04:27:15 PM »
I would approach the conversation with your boss by emphasizing the health angle as the reason you want to cut back. The risk in asking for reduced responsibility is looking lazy, but people can understand cutting back for health reasons.

I would also think about a plan for how to manage the team's work when there is no longer a technical lead. The team's workload won't change, so your boss will be primarily concerned with making sure everything that needs to be done still gets done. So coming up with a solid transition plan will help alleviate any qualms your boss may have.

I agree with talking to a trusted mentor in the organization before approaching your boss. And explore alternatives -- if you otherwise like your position but there are just too many people to manage, then perhaps you could join a smaller team. If the management/responsibility aspect is what isn't working for you, then going down to a "builder" role is likely your best bet. Maybe you could explore other jobs in your area that are less pressure.

Retire-Canada

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2017, 06:18:13 PM »
I'm thinking of asking for reduced responsibilities along those lines (which will definitely reduce the pay - and I'm ok with that).

Question: Is there any risk in doing this?  Should I line up another job before I ask them, just in case things get ugly and if I'm forced to leave?

If your health is suffering I would talk to management. Is there a risk? Yes, but you are the best person to understand how big. I can't see them terminating you on the spot because you have health issues. So I'd say a more likely negative outcome is you feel they are not paying you enough for your reduced role or that they are in some way treating you in a way that makes you unhappy. Either way that would give you time to find another position.

Dicey

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2017, 06:37:12 PM »
Start from this: No job is worth jeopardizing your health for. Then work backwards. What do you need to feel well again? You cannot buy your health back.

FINate

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2017, 07:56:34 PM »
Agree that it depends a lot on the company culture. I wouldn't expect most places to show you the door for downshifting (good SW devs are too hard to come by), but I think management will see it as you topping out (aka the Peter Principle) so don't expect promotions and such in the near to medium term. If there's a high level of institutional memory then you may have to change companies if you want to upshift again.

StreetCat

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2017, 08:20:27 PM »
Thanks for all the responses, and several good points in there.

I think management will see it as you topping out (aka the Peter Principle) so don't expect promotions and such in the near to medium term. If there's a high level of institutional memory then you may have to change companies if you want to upshift again.
That may not be too big of a problem for me.  The 'stache is growing and I may be able to RE in 4-5 years.  I would prefer to slowly scale back and earn more in total instead of trying to max out my current salary and risk burnout - that may eventually reduce my earning capacity anyway.

Simpli-Fi

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2017, 09:41:45 PM »
I suggest bringing a solution to the table when you speak to your supervisor.  Use this as a mentoring opportunity for the brightest hardest working team member...as you translation to a role that suits you better.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2017, 11:51:48 PM »
Interesting. Was just hanging out with a friend in a similar situation. Heís managing a team and doing 14 hour days for the last 2 years and was miserable. You canít go backwards, so his solution, hire a quality person at his level and split the role.  He hasnít lost any pay or Status and now his work is cut in half. I manage a large team, if one on my assistant managers wanted to reduce their work, I wouldnít have a role for them. It would mean replacing their senior role and keeping them, no budget for that and not part of my strategy. Iíd have to let that person go or elevate someone currently on the team to split the duties. Be careful how you frame the discussion. Itís always good to present your manager with 3 options and donít make it seem like you are deficient. Iíd focus on elevating someone else to share th load to better manage a large team. 12 people as direct reports are too many, you shouldnít have more than 6. See if you can elevate someone as part of career development, succession and back-up for when someone is away.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: What's the risk in asking for reduced responsibility at work?
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2017, 02:35:19 PM »
My boss is actually transitioning to a developer role right now because he's tired of the 60+ hour weeks.  He's moving to a different team, under a different IT director.  The spot he's taking is one that was already open, and they're hiring to replace him.  He wants to downshift permanently, so he's okay with the fact that this might be his last role until retirement, whenever that is.  That's really a best-case scenario.

I think it's unlikely you'll be able to transition all the way down to senior developer on your own team, both because they don't have a replacement groomed for you and because your juniors are conditioned to look to you, and they aren't going to stop without a lot of effort on the part of you and your boss.

It's unlikely your boss is going to want to lose you if the team is so heavily weighted towards junior developers.  When is budgeting time?  If you want to convince them to hire someone new to help you, then you need to be having this conversation before budgeting conversations start.   I'd make sure to have a lot of documentation on the kinds of tasks you do and the amount of time they take, so that they can see this is more than a one-person job.  In some cases, you may be able to recommend that tasks X and Y be delegated to someone else/some other group.

I would definitely have a backup plan, just in case.