Author Topic: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?  (Read 8436 times)

EconDiva

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What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« on: January 27, 2016, 09:10:37 AM »
I've been with a company for about 2 years now and I feel like I've been working towards a position similar to this for over 5 years.

The next position up from me, with an official title of "manager" is what I've really been working towards.  But now that I'm here...I don't think I want it. 

:/

I currently am challenged in ways I want to be challenged.  I work hard.  I work long hours.  I have learning and development opportunities.  And I'm still able to maintain a life outside of work (although I choose not to have much of one...but that's a different story, ha).  I've trained people, I've gotten to travel internationally and present to people, I learn something new every day and my current team is pretty great (even though I realize that could change at any time as needs change and people are shifted around).

Anywho, I'm right around 85K now (was at 45K 4 years ago).  My goal was to get to 90K by next year which seems doable.  I'm 37 with no huge aspirations to make a ton more than that as far as salary goals are concerned.  In the next position up as a manager, I could expect probably $110K +/- 10%?  And it shoots WAY up from there of course.  However, my manager works about 75 hours a week; I'm currently at more like 50-55.  I don't have a spouse or kids but I feel like my quality of life would suffer.  I like to travel...I like leisure time at home after work.  I am finding I like having at least somewhat of a delineation between work and home; as an example now that I'm on a project with Asia team members I find myself having to log on every night of the week and sometimes have meetings at 7 pm or so which disrupts my schedule (I don't have a car so night meetings mean skipping the train stop to the gym and coming straight home as just one example).  As a manager this would increase exponentially.

Anyways, I digress.  Do I need more motivation?  My company is huge on promoting and is growing very fast; they have made it clear they expect employees to learn more and they will be rewarded by being promoted.  I did receive one promotion already after 1 year here.  Can I expect to continue working here or that it will become an issue at one point that I'm not really amenable to "doing more"?  I don't want to come off as a "waste of an employee"...I'm just already thinking about how to handle this as it will need to be addressed somehow and I just don't know how yet.

UPDATE 02Feb17:

I'm totally appalled at myself that it's a year later and upon re-reading this thread I realized I never posted any thoughts or updates after it was created.  I did originally read through all of the responses below though and am revisiting this posting now, a year after the fact due to some recent conversations at work. 

About a month ago during one of my routine visits with my boss she mentioned that I am going to get a very good review this year (details and raise % to come this month actually).  She said it was one of highest reviews for people in my particular role within this department and that I'd be very happy with the raise that's coming.  [I already know it'll be 5% because she's basically told me without saying it already.  5% is associated with stellar performance basically.]

During this conversation she stated that I should be applying for a Management position this year.  This came as a bit of a shocker to me because I thought I had another 1-2 years until this conversation came up.  The conversation was a little casual so my immediate response was something along the lines of "Really?"  And she then went on to say that she thought I was ready and ask if I had any reservations.  I did not explicity state I don't think I'm ready or that I had reservations but I did ask her about her feelings about me not having experience managing A or B type activities.  Her response was that we could "fudge your experience in that area"...which I was uncomfortable with hearing.  We had a conversation months ago where she told me upper management is very careful about who they promote because in the past they have been too quick to promote people they thought were ready.  Once promoted and the person failed, it's a kindof 'black mark' on them and extremely difficult to continue to move up after that (I wonder if they've had to demote in the past because of this.) 

Anyways, she mentioned it again last week, but from a different angle.  To make it short the 2 projects I'm on right now are ending at some point this year.  It's possible they may not produce successful results which means other projects may not move forward based on these.  I don't know that's the case or not, however, I just have this feeling that there's a reason she's pushing me...and I'm not sure if it's because she really really feels I'm ready, or she may know more than I do in terms of potential future instability (that she may be encouraging me to hedge myself against by obtaining a more valuable role/title) or a little bit of both. 

Update 10/5/17:

I posted an update on 10/5/17 downstream fyi.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2017, 08:58:20 AM by EconDiva »

Spork

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2016, 09:15:19 AM »
I can't speak for your employer... they really differ from place to place.

I've worked places that have both a managerial track and a technical track.  The technical path lets you still get promotions and raises, but you just don't go into management.  I worked 18 years at one place without ever entering management.  Many of my friends dipped their toes in management... then had the same realization as you: they didn't want it.  And they stepped back to where I was and enjoyed the technical track.

I have seen some places that think if you don't go into management that you are dead weight... and that you're "taking a spot" meant for some other person coming up the ladder.  I'd avoid places like that.

Gone Fishing

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2016, 09:21:01 AM »
What are your ER goals?  Are there other benefits tied to the increased salary, i.e. pension, stocks, more vacation, etc.?  Might not be the best long term solution, but it might be worth the $ and experience if you are less than 24 months or so from FIRE anyway.  Are they pushing you to move up? Just tell them you are satisfied with where you are.  Many managers appreciate at least a few people that are good at what they do that are going to stick around for a while vs. just looking for the next step up.

Ironically, my industry and company are in a slow/no growth phase.  All the youngsters (except me) want to move up, but many of the management positions are being tightly held on to by the boomers.  Can't stop father time, though...     
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 09:22:43 AM by So Close »

cjottawa

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2016, 09:22:58 AM »
In some industries or companies, "up or out" is the unwritten rule; I hear this a lot from law firms. You can guess what that means.

I found an industry where everyone plays a part and, while it's more difficult to move "up," you aren't being eyed for replacement if you're good at your job and happy in it. Sometimes you just gotta leave a company or industry to find that. There is nothing wrong with you for wanting that, and the work-life balance that comes with it. Having done 100hr work weeks, I'm done with that.

jeromedawg

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2016, 09:26:57 AM »
I can't speak for your employer... they really differ from place to place.

I've worked places that have both a managerial track and a technical track.  The technical path lets you still get promotions and raises, but you just don't go into management.  I worked 18 years at one place without ever entering management.  Many of my friends dipped their toes in management... then had the same realization as you: they didn't want it.  And they stepped back to where I was and enjoyed the technical track.

I have seen some places that think if you don't go into management that you are dead weight... and that you're "taking a spot" meant for some other person coming up the ladder.  I'd avoid places like that.

This. My former manager/tech lead was in this same position at the last company we were at. He was a technical lead and then eventually got promoted (or pushed, rather) into a more managerial position. He was still leading our team but after a bunch of layoffs and people leaving, more people got folded onto his team and he had more overhead to deal with. With more people under him, he had less time and opportunity to stay involved technically. It was more about managing the people on his team and a lot of logistics and politics. Ultimately, he got fed up with it and didn't want all the overhead and responsibility and left the company to go to a smaller company, closer to his house, and in a more technical role. Not sure if he accepted a pay-cut in doing so but either way I think he's happier now. After seeing what he went through, and sitting in the cube right next to him and working with him on a pretty regular basis, it makes me not want to follow in his footsteps either...

2Cent

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2016, 09:30:30 AM »
How you handle a new role is up to you. I don't buy the super busy act. I believe that if you work much more than around 8 hours a day on "thinking work" your efficiency will suffer so much that you actually produce about the same results in more time. In the past I've had a management role and it was quite doable once I got rid of all the time waste.

The secret is to delegate to the point where the team is nearly self-organizing. Many managers fall into the trap of thinking they are very important, and need to have a say in every decision and be at all the meetings. But most of the time you can just give it to the people who know what they are doing and read the minutes afterwards.

It's scary as a manager to let go of the reigns, but you will see that as you let others do what they do best, you will have time to focus on your core tasks, and have time to live your life.

The only thing that I would say is see what kind of people you'll be working with. On a management level things can be quite political which is not for everyone (like me).

ender

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2016, 09:49:24 AM »
I've been with a company for about 2 years now and I feel like I've been working towards a position similar to this for over 5 years.

The next position up from me, with an official title of "manager" is what I've really been working towards.  But now that I'm here...I don't think I want it. 

:/

I currently am challenged in ways I want to be challenged.  I work hard.  I work long hours.  I have learning and development opportunities.  And I'm still able to maintain a life outside of work (although I choose not to have much of one...but that's a different story, ha).  I've trained people, I've gotten to travel internationally and present to people, I learn something new every day and my current team is pretty great (even though I realize that could change at any time as needs change and people are shifted around).

Anywho, I'm right around 85K now (was at 45K 4 years ago).  My goal was to get to 90K by next year which seems doable.  I'm 37 with no huge aspirations to make a ton more than that as far as salary goals are concerned.  In the next position up as a manager, I could expect probably $110K +/- 10%?  And it shoots WAY up from there of course.  However, my manager works about 75 hours a week; I'm currently at more like 50-55.  I don't have a spouse or kids but I feel like my quality of life would suffer.  I like to travel...I like leisure time at home after work.  I am finding I like having at least somewhat of a delineation between work and home; as an example now that I'm on a project with Asia team members I find myself having to log on every night of the week and sometimes have meetings at 7 pm or so which disrupts my schedule (I don't have a car so night meetings mean skipping the train stop to the gym and coming straight home as just one example).  As a manager this would increase exponentially.

Anyways, I digress.  Do I need more motivation?  My company is huge on promoting and is growing very fast; they have made it clear they expect employees to learn more and they will be rewarded by being promoted.  I did receive one promotion already after 1 year here.  Can I expect to continue working here or that it will become an issue at one point that I'm not really amenable to "doing more"?  I don't want to come off as a "waste of an employee"...I'm just already thinking about how to handle this as it will need to be addressed somehow and I just don't know how yet.

You are in an absolutely perfect position to propose something to your manager the next time this comes up.

A few people have mentioned a technical track and it sounds like your company doesn't have a technical track (or, you are at the "top" of it). The next time this comes up, you can talk about how you'd like to move from your current position to a "senior [current position]" so that you can become your companies expert in what you are doing. You really like what you are doing and love learning about the current material and think your main benefit to the company would be in becoming an expert in your current subject material, because you are passionate about it (or whatever way you want to describe this). Use the companies language, too. It sound like eagerness for promotions and learning are what they want. So give a story of how your current work can facilitate both. "I'd like to take a promotion, but I really enjoy learning the material I currently work with. It seems to make sense for my next move to be transitioning into a senior contributor position, given my interest in what I do now. It'd allow me to continue teaching others and learning - both of which I am interested in. Taking the senior position would allow me to learn to be even more effective at both. What can we do to help make something like this happen?" Or something like that.

If you sell your desire to stay doing what you are currently doing in a way which shows benefit to your company, you are much more likely to get a positive response - they will likely be more interested in paying you more and you will get to do the things you like doing.


People hate playing "the game" but in many cases proactively playing that game gives you the ability to write your own job description (and sometimes get a raise to boot!?).

mm1970

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2016, 05:42:45 PM »
Quote
However, my manager works about 75 hours a week; I'm currently at more like 50-55. 

I've got kids, but I have specifically turned down more than one promotion because it involved hours like that, and I didn't want them.

But I continued to learn and show interest in "other" opportunities.  I eventually was offered a promotion that lined up with my interests and the time factor.  And I took it.

It's years later and we've had a bunch of layoffs, so I'm back to a senior engineer role.  (My entire team got laid off, as well as all of my engineer contemporaries except two).

aspiringnomad

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2016, 08:01:47 PM »
However, my manager works about 75 hours a week; I'm currently at more like 50-55.

75 hours a week is not physically or mentally healthy over the long-term. I've done it for short periods and it was truly soul draining. If that's really what you're looking at, I'd give a hard pass on that offer.

redrocker

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2016, 08:27:30 PM »


Anyways, I digress.  Do I need more motivation?  My company is huge on promoting and is growing very fast; they have made it clear they expect employees to learn more and they will be rewarded by being promoted.  I did receive one promotion already after 1 year here.  Can I expect to continue working here or that it will become an issue at one point that I'm not really amenable to "doing more"?  I don't want to come off as a "waste of an employee"...I'm just already thinking about how to handle this as it will need to be addressed somehow and I just don't know how yet.

All personal opinion here, based on my personal experience in what may be a similar position, so I'll put that caveat upfront.

I think you've got the right idea, you've hit a sweet spot where you're challenged but have enough time to actually live your life. You're in touch with what's important to you and climbing the ladder isn't a required ingredient.

My opinion: you can't generally be honest with most employers about such a mindset; the larger the company the more it seems they expect career progressions at some predetermined time interval. I suspect it will eventually come up in annual reviews. I'd ride the current wave you're on as long as possible but be working on an escape strategy in case the reckoning happens. For me, it was getting a little side stream income from real estate rentals, which I steadily increased for about 5 years. For you, it might be networking within the industry, saving the contact info of headhunters that call, etc. When my previous employer decided to "downsize", my name was on the list and I don't regret pushing myself harder than I did.

If I wanted to work elsewhere I could, as I suspect could you if the same happens to you. If you're happy with where you're at, don't push yourself. Happiness with a high 5 figure salary is pretty damn priceless. Trust your instincts on this and enjoy it while it lasts.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 08:29:06 PM by redrocker »

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2017, 06:54:15 AM »


Anyways, I digress.  Do I need more motivation?  My company is huge on promoting and is growing very fast; they have made it clear they expect employees to learn more and they will be rewarded by being promoted.  I did receive one promotion already after 1 year here.  Can I expect to continue working here or that it will become an issue at one point that I'm not really amenable to "doing more"?  I don't want to come off as a "waste of an employee"...I'm just already thinking about how to handle this as it will need to be addressed somehow and I just don't know how yet.

All personal opinion here, based on my personal experience in what may be a similar position, so I'll put that caveat upfront.

I think you've got the right idea, you've hit a sweet spot where you're challenged but have enough time to actually live your life. You're in touch with what's important to you and climbing the ladder isn't a required ingredient.

My opinion: you can't generally be honest with most employers about such a mindset; the larger the company the more it seems they expect career progressions at some predetermined time interval. I suspect it will eventually come up in annual reviews. I'd ride the current wave you're on as long as possible but be working on an escape strategy in case the reckoning happens. For me, it was getting a little side stream income from real estate rentals, which I steadily increased for about 5 years. For you, it might be networking within the industry, saving the contact info of headhunters that call, etc. When my previous employer decided to "downsize", my name was on the list and I don't regret pushing myself harder than I did.

If I wanted to work elsewhere I could, as I suspect could you if the same happens to you. If you're happy with where you're at, don't push yourself. Happiness with a high 5 figure salary is pretty damn priceless. Trust your instincts on this and enjoy it while it lasts.

I had posted an update in the original posting above.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have to "ride the wave" at this point.  Right now I'm a bit on the fence about being honest about 'not feeling ready yet' or not.  I admit I said something I probably shouldn't have a few weeks ago.  I stated to her that being in a position of mentor has taught me how much more I need to learn in order to be as proficient and efficient as she is in her position.  Yesterday she had jokingly mentioned after talking about a few fires she was putting out, "I was thinking about you and thinking to myself...does EconDiva realllllly want this job?  Is she sure she wants to do what I do because MAN, you know how intense this is.  It is brutal."  Only I think although she was laughing I did wonder what exactly has she been thinking about me and getting promoted. 

Let me say that I'm not 100% against taking on the role at some point in the future.  I will say that I'm not eager about taking it at any point, but I am definitely do not feel ready to jump into it now based on my current experience.  It seems my manager feels I am ready.  I will admit that perhaps I am being a bit self critical and can do the work. 

>I just don't want to work that hard [or long shall I say].<

I don't feel the extra money is worth it.

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2017, 06:56:20 AM »
What are your ER goals?  Are there other benefits tied to the increased salary, i.e. pension, stocks, more vacation, etc.?  Might not be the best long term solution, but it might be worth the $ and experience if you are less than 24 months or so from FIRE anyway.  Are they pushing you to move up? Just tell them you are satisfied with where you are.  Many managers appreciate at least a few people that are good at what they do that are going to stick around for a while vs. just looking for the next step up.

Ironically, my industry and company are in a slow/no growth phase.  All the youngsters (except me) want to move up, but many of the management positions are being tightly held on to by the boomers.  Can't stop father time, though...   

I'll be 38 in a few weeks.  I'd like to retire at 50.  So I'm a ways away from that.  There are other perks that come with the next positions up, mainly stock options.  I vest in the pension in another 2 years at the 5 year mark regardless.  I have 3 weeks vacation and that is based on time; I get another week once I hit 10 years [!] there.

Regarding telling them I'm satisfied with where I am at, I think that will make me appear lazy in their eyes.  Like 'dead weight" as another poster mentioned.  So right now I'm not sure how this will be handled as the next year progresses. 

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2017, 06:58:38 AM »
I can't speak for your employer... they really differ from place to place.

I've worked places that have both a managerial track and a technical track.  The technical path lets you still get promotions and raises, but you just don't go into management.  I worked 18 years at one place without ever entering management.  Many of my friends dipped their toes in management... then had the same realization as you: they didn't want it.  And they stepped back to where I was and enjoyed the technical track.

I have seen some places that think if you don't go into management that you are dead weight... and that you're "taking a spot" meant for some other person coming up the ladder.  I'd avoid places like that.

Are you in engineering?  IT? 

« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 07:15:43 AM by EconDiva »

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2017, 07:14:54 AM »
How you handle a new role is up to you. I don't buy the super busy act. I believe that if you work much more than around 8 hours a day on "thinking work" your efficiency will suffer so much that you actually produce about the same results in more time. In the past I've had a management role and it was quite doable once I got rid of all the time waste.

The secret is to delegate to the point where the team is nearly self-organizing. Many managers fall into the trap of thinking they are very important, and need to have a say in every decision and be at all the meetings. But most of the time you can just give it to the people who know what they are doing and read the minutes afterwards.

It's scary as a manager to let go of the reigns, but you will see that as you let others do what they do best, you will have time to focus on your core tasks, and have time to live your life.

The only thing that I would say is see what kind of people you'll be working with. On a management level things can be quite political which is not for everyone (like me).

This is a good post.

Regarding the super busy act...well...all I can say is that the people that are busy at my job are indeed actually busy.  This is the first place I worked where it seems everyone is working hard and being productive all of the time.  Past employers there was always someone who had too much time on their hands, who wasn't doing things efficiently and was wasting time, etc etc but here I don't see that happening.

My company is also growing.  It's a fairly large global company that was formed from another very large company.  Work is increasing as projects come along.  More and more people are being hired across the company.  Departments are being absorbed/reworked, titles are being changed and last but not least...systems are being udpated, integrated, obsoleted and completely replaced such that the 'learning' never ends (actually I have found it the one major pet peeve I now currently have that others are starting to express issues with...the fact I feel I can't become an expert at anything because every day we are changing how we work).  I guess it's just the phase the company is in right now since it's still fairly new. 

Anyways, I digress. 

Regarding the delegation part, I am thinking of my current boss as an example.  I think she does a good job of delegating.  But there are only so many hours in a day.  She is an overperformer.  So she's on like 6 projects (I'm only on 2 and only got the 2nd one a few months ago).  She may have 7 hours worth of meetings in one day.  Our projects are global so she may go home to additional meetings in the evening/at night.  I know that mentioning how many projects she's on probably doesn't mean much when you don't know the scope of the projects.  All I can say is that they require a ton of work.  And the more you show you can handle it the more work you will get; at least that's what I'm seeing with her.  I imagine this is common in most workplaces; it's not anything new.  I guess in my babbling what I want to communicate here is that there is a difference between my boss and myself and that difference is that she lives to work while I work to live.  I believe she thinks I am like her and that I also live to work but I don't and I'm not sure how our working relationship will change if/once she comes to that understanding now that we are starting to have these 'promotion' converations.

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2017, 07:22:29 AM »
I've been with a company for about 2 years now and I feel like I've been working towards a position similar to this for over 5 years.

The next position up from me, with an official title of "manager" is what I've really been working towards.  But now that I'm here...I don't think I want it. 

:/

I currently am challenged in ways I want to be challenged.  I work hard.  I work long hours.  I have learning and development opportunities.  And I'm still able to maintain a life outside of work (although I choose not to have much of one...but that's a different story, ha).  I've trained people, I've gotten to travel internationally and present to people, I learn something new every day and my current team is pretty great (even though I realize that could change at any time as needs change and people are shifted around).

Anywho, I'm right around 85K now (was at 45K 4 years ago).  My goal was to get to 90K by next year which seems doable.  I'm 37 with no huge aspirations to make a ton more than that as far as salary goals are concerned.  In the next position up as a manager, I could expect probably $110K +/- 10%?  And it shoots WAY up from there of course.  However, my manager works about 75 hours a week; I'm currently at more like 50-55.  I don't have a spouse or kids but I feel like my quality of life would suffer.  I like to travel...I like leisure time at home after work.  I am finding I like having at least somewhat of a delineation between work and home; as an example now that I'm on a project with Asia team members I find myself having to log on every night of the week and sometimes have meetings at 7 pm or so which disrupts my schedule (I don't have a car so night meetings mean skipping the train stop to the gym and coming straight home as just one example).  As a manager this would increase exponentially.

Anyways, I digress.  Do I need more motivation?  My company is huge on promoting and is growing very fast; they have made it clear they expect employees to learn more and they will be rewarded by being promoted.  I did receive one promotion already after 1 year here.  Can I expect to continue working here or that it will become an issue at one point that I'm not really amenable to "doing more"?  I don't want to come off as a "waste of an employee"...I'm just already thinking about how to handle this as it will need to be addressed somehow and I just don't know how yet.

You are in an absolutely perfect position to propose something to your manager the next time this comes up.

A few people have mentioned a technical track and it sounds like your company doesn't have a technical track (or, you are at the "top" of it). The next time this comes up, you can talk about how you'd like to move from your current position to a "senior [current position]" so that you can become your companies expert in what you are doing. You really like what you are doing and love learning about the current material and think your main benefit to the company would be in becoming an expert in your current subject material, because you are passionate about it (or whatever way you want to describe this). Use the companies language, too. It sound like eagerness for promotions and learning are what they want. So give a story of how your current work can facilitate both. "I'd like to take a promotion, but I really enjoy learning the material I currently work with. It seems to make sense for my next move to be transitioning into a senior contributor position, given my interest in what I do now. It'd allow me to continue teaching others and learning - both of which I am interested in. Taking the senior position would allow me to learn to be even more effective at both. What can we do to help make something like this happen?" Or something like that.

If you sell your desire to stay doing what you are currently doing in a way which shows benefit to your company, you are much more likely to get a positive response - they will likely be more interested in paying you more and you will get to do the things you like doing.


People hate playing "the game" but in many cases proactively playing that game gives you the ability to write your own job description (and sometimes get a raise to boot!?).

This is also a really good posting.

You are correct...we don't have a technical track where I work. 

I am realizing since these conversations have started to come up that I better get a handle on how to handle where I stand with this and put a positive spin on this before I start to potentially look like the complacent employee who doesn't want to ever progress (which to an extent I might just be; I just can't appear to be that way). 

I am wondering if what I need to do is initiate a conversation where I mention that I am interested in the promotion but want to know what else I need to do to ensure I am prepared for one basically.  Based on the update I wrote in my original post, I honestly believe my boss will probably say "you're already ready; we just need to focus on how you can communicate your experience effectively in an interview".  In that case, it'll be on to interviewing I go.  :/  But just because I interview doesn't mean I'll get the position/promotion, either....

Indeed I do hate 'playing games'.  I just want to continue doing what I'm doing for a while.  But the primary reason is because I do actually WANT to become an expert at what I do and right now I don't feel that I am. 

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2017, 07:26:12 AM »
However, my manager works about 75 hours a week; I'm currently at more like 50-55.

75 hours a week is not physically or mentally healthy over the long-term. I've done it for short periods and it was truly soul draining. If that's really what you're looking at, I'd give a hard pass on that offer.

Yes, that is what I would be looking at.

Let me add that my company is a global one, so...our projects are global.  If you get an email at 10:00 pm and its urgent you need to tend to it.  If you consistently don't answer any email coming in past 7 pm your boss will notice it.  I hold meetings with my colleagues in Asia frequently...I lead these meetings which means after work I sometimes rush home to get back online to work more.  The nature of our jobs is not a 9-5ish by any means.  It's more of a "you're always plugged in" sort of job.

Paul der Krake

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2017, 07:27:48 AM »
Let other people
I just want to continue doing what I'm doing for a while.  But the primary reason is because I do actually WANT to become an expert at what I do and right now I don't feel that I am. 
Why aren't you an expert?

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2017, 07:34:11 AM »
Let other people
I just want to continue doing what I'm doing for a while.  But the primary reason is because I do actually WANT to become an expert at what I do and right now I don't feel that I am. 
Why aren't you an expert?

This is why I feel I am not an expert:

I mentioned this somewhere above but my company is fairly new.  Right now it seems everything is changing.  Tons of new people being hired.  People moving around.  Departments splitting up...functional areas roles' changing.  Tons of systems we use are being changed, obsoleted, integrated and replaced.  There are so many things right now to 'start over' at being proficient at that how can I call myself an expert if I am relearning these things? 

In addition, I feel that I'm not an expert due to the amount of time I've been here and what I've done thus far.  I've mainly been on ONE very very large project there entire past almost 3 years.  It's not done yet but is almost complete.  One large project means seeing the life cycle of everything you do on a project....once.  I sincerely feel if I saw another project through from beginning to end, I'd be more comfortable with my experience and level of expertise at seeing/handling certain matters.

Lastly, part of it just may be my personality.  I think of an expert as having the answer to every single question.  I see my boss as that way.  She has expressed to me that its about solving the problem by finding the answer, not always knowing the answer.  I agree to an extent, but let's just simplify things and say I feel she knows 95% of the answers and I know 65%.  How will I perform knowing only 65%?  I worry about that.

Laura33

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2017, 09:31:40 AM »
So, first, do NOT frame this up as whether you are "qualified" or have sufficient experience.  That is the death knell to a career, because it says you don't have confidence in your work or your abilities.  If you start getting that reputation, everyone will start to look twice at the work you are doing *now* in your technical role (not joking, not exaggerating -- seen it happen, to people who were actually more competent than I was). 

In addition, women (assuming based on username) tend to undersell their own competence -- you seem to be a perfect case in point, where you clearly have several years' of knowledge and expertise but want to make sure every box is checked before you risk taking on more.  It is the job of a good boss to evaluate her employees and decide when they are capable of more -- my boss here did that and routinely pushed me into issues long before I myself thought I was capable.  Turns out he had a much better perspective on what the job actually required than I did. 

If you admire and respect your boss and think she is on the ball, then trust her judgment about your ability to fill the new role.  You really, really, really do not need to know 95% of everything to do the job (or else no one would ever get promoted) -- they key is to have resources on your team to fill your own knowledge gaps.  Which, conveniently, goes along with the "delegating" skill others referred to.  FWIW, I took on a new role here @4 years ago that was in an area I know zero about -- I think I got it because I was mouthy to the person who had it before me (which, since the role requires a backbone, turned out to be a plus).  I was totally *not* qualified substantively -- I would quiz myself whenever a new issue came in, and for at least the first six months my gut answer was consistently wrong.  BUT I was allowed to put together a team, which I compiled from the subject-matter experts in each area.  So while I threw myself in to learning the area, my experts kept us on the straight and narrow -- and, added bonus, even after I figured out the basics, I *still* don't have to know all of the ins and outs of each little sub-area, because, duh, that's what my experts are for.  You really truly do NOT need to know everything to be a good manager (in fact, it can be a detriment, since that entices you to do everything yourself) -- you just need to know enough to lead the team and keep everything honest.

OTOH, if you don't want the promotion because you don't want to be a manager, that is a completely valid reason not to go for the promotion!  My DH has a Ph.D in a technical field, loves the tech part of the job, and has spent the last @5+ years babysitting a couple hundred people instead of developing the tech -- he is now looking to lateral to a CTO-type role to spend more time on the tech and less on keeping the trains running on time and resolving interpersonal disputes.

But the key to pursuing that kind of role is exactly the advice you received above:  you need to keep the discussion positive and focus on what you can contribute in a "senior technical person" role, rather on "I don't want to work that hard" or "I don't think I'm ready."  It sounds like that may be difficult, because you have a project-based job, and your existing projects are winding up.  But try to think creatively about a role that you can propose that shows you are still passionate about the work and want to work hard for your company.  It sounds like your company has a clearly-defined organizational structure, but also that they have had a tremendous amount of change lately.  So that may mean that there are options they haven't considered -- if you can find an area that is underserved, some need that is going unmet, you could propose yourself as the "boss" of that particular issue/area.

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2017, 10:09:12 AM »
So, first, do NOT frame this up as whether you are "qualified" or have sufficient experience.  That is the death knell to a career, because it says you don't have confidence in your work or your abilities.  If you start getting that reputation, everyone will start to look twice at the work you are doing *now* in your technical role (not joking, not exaggerating -- seen it happen, to people who were actually more competent than I was). 

In addition, women (assuming based on username) tend to undersell their own competence -- you seem to be a perfect case in point, where you clearly have several years' of knowledge and expertise but want to make sure every box is checked before you risk taking on more.  It is the job of a good boss to evaluate her employees and decide when they are capable of more -- my boss here did that and routinely pushed me into issues long before I myself thought I was capable.  Turns out he had a much better perspective on what the job actually required than I did. 

If you admire and respect your boss and think she is on the ball, then trust her judgment about your ability to fill the new role.  You really, really, really do not need to know 95% of everything to do the job (or else no one would ever get promoted) -- they key is to have resources on your team to fill your own knowledge gaps.  Which, conveniently, goes along with the "delegating" skill others referred to.  FWIW, I took on a new role here @4 years ago that was in an area I know zero about -- I think I got it because I was mouthy to the person who had it before me (which, since the role requires a backbone, turned out to be a plus).  I was totally *not* qualified substantively -- I would quiz myself whenever a new issue came in, and for at least the first six months my gut answer was consistently wrong.  BUT I was allowed to put together a team, which I compiled from the subject-matter experts in each area.  So while I threw myself in to learning the area, my experts kept us on the straight and narrow -- and, added bonus, even after I figured out the basics, I *still* don't have to know all of the ins and outs of each little sub-area, because, duh, that's what my experts are for.  You really truly do NOT need to know everything to be a good manager (in fact, it can be a detriment, since that entices you to do everything yourself) -- you just need to know enough to lead the team and keep everything honest.

OTOH, if you don't want the promotion because you don't want to be a manager, that is a completely valid reason not to go for the promotion!  My DH has a Ph.D in a technical field, loves the tech part of the job, and has spent the last @5+ years babysitting a couple hundred people instead of developing the tech -- he is now looking to lateral to a CTO-type role to spend more time on the tech and less on keeping the trains running on time and resolving interpersonal disputes.

But the key to pursuing that kind of role is exactly the advice you received above:  you need to keep the discussion positive and focus on what you can contribute in a "senior technical person" role, rather on "I don't want to work that hard" or "I don't think I'm ready."  It sounds like that may be difficult, because you have a project-based job, and your existing projects are winding up.  But try to think creatively about a role that you can propose that shows you are still passionate about the work and want to work hard for your company.  It sounds like your company has a clearly-defined organizational structure, but also that they have had a tremendous amount of change lately.  So that may mean that there are options they haven't considered -- if you can find an area that is underserved, some need that is going unmet, you could propose yourself as the "boss" of that particular issue/area.

Excellent points.

I was reading back through my very own posts and seeing the same lack of self confidence you pointed out.  Perhaps that is an issue but I'm thinking there is an underlying fear of failure somewhere in here that also needs to be addressed.

I think it's not a matter of not wanting the position because of (a) fear of failure, or not wanting the position because of (b) the potential negative impact on quality of life, but rather its 'both' right now. 

I think I need to do some deeper examining as to how much of (a) is unwarranted and how much of (b) is being exaggerated due to (a).

In regards to creating a role, I think that's an excellent idea and I actually thought about that over a year ago but couldn't come up with anything that would fit.  You are correct that it would be very difficult to do based on my company's structure.  However, when it comes to being creative I excel in that area.  In the meantime I do have to figure out how I'm going to address this current issue of whether or not to consider this promotion opportunity and how to best communicate that decision. 

Totally agree that I need to do everything possible to keep my reputation positive. 

At this exact/very moment I'm actually thinking I might need to actually decide much quicker if this is something I truly want to purse...or not.  Because management may be eyeing certain people for this role as we speak so best not to get ruled out so fast just in case I do come to the decision its worth taking on the risk (even if it doesn't work out.).

I'm actually thinking I might need to bring this topic up myself in my next meeting with my boss.  And briefly mention something along the lines of:

"Although I previously mentioned what might seem like reservations about taking a Management role, let me clarify that I have simply been evaluating my strengths and weaknesses against those characteristics I feel are most important in order to perform well in such a position." --> Shows I have been assessing my career path and taking the previous discussions seriously.

"I have done some more thinking and consider any areas of concern to really just be opportunities for me to learn and grow just like I've grown over the past 3 years doing x, y and z.  I realize now that since my strengths a, b, c, etc., are what would make me a good candidate, and that I'd actually enjoy learning how to do x, y and z in this new role just as I enjoyed learning how to do d, e and f over the past 3 years."  --> Eliminating any previous potential concerns over me possibly not wanting the role, mentioning why I'd be a good fit and emphasizing that I enjoy what I do (actually I don't really get any joy from what I do but I act like I do and that's important here because of the belief that you won't be a good performer otherwise).   

mozar

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2017, 12:43:38 PM »
I wouldn't mention the word "weakness" in reference to myself ever. Just say you were evaluating your strengths, or self or whatever.

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2017, 04:20:21 PM »
I can't speak for your employer... they really differ from place to place.

I've worked places that have both a managerial track and a technical track.  The technical path lets you still get promotions and raises, but you just don't go into management.  I worked 18 years at one place without ever entering management.  Many of my friends dipped their toes in management... then had the same realization as you: they didn't want it.  And they stepped back to where I was and enjoyed the technical track.

I have seen some places that think if you don't go into management that you are dead weight... and that you're "taking a spot" meant for some other person coming up the ladder.  I'd avoid places like that.

Are you in engineering?  IT?

I've worked in both software engineering and IT.  This particular company even re-named all their IT positions just to align with higher paying positions.  In other words, we were "Systems Programmers" (or Sr Systems Programmers or Principle Systems Programmers or ...) instead of "Unix Administrators" because they were trying to align with a higher pay scale in the industry.

I really burned out there... but in retrospect they did SO many things right for the employees.  (The burnout was mostly my own fault.)

pbkmaine

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2017, 04:26:45 PM »
I did get promoted up through the ranks and found that I did not enjoy management. When I decided to switch jobs, I looked for one where I could be a "subject matter expert" rather than a manager. Perhaps this is the conversation you should have with your employer? If they pressure you, perhaps say something vague like "personal circumstances" make it impossible for you to take on management responsibilities?

Del Griffith

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2017, 04:37:41 PM »
Not sure how well this translates to your field, but I felt it was worth adding. At my job, whenever it comes to hiring and promotions, there is a quiet saying amongst supervisors: you can teach experience, but you can't teach personality. You have been eyed for a reason. The fact that you already possess and have been maintaining a positive reputation is half the battle. (Once that is gone, it is nearly impossible to come back in many cases.) I don't think your supervisor or anyone expects you to know everything upon immediately stepping into a new managerial role; having a can-do attitude and being open to challenges and growth is likely what they look for in a desirable candidate. It sounds like your supervisor has been vetting you for a while now, and I'm sure not without reason.

Of course, I understand you are saying the other major piece is the work-life balance, which is its own can of worms. Any idea how possible it is at your company to accept the position and try it out, and then re-evaluate if it turns out to not be a great fit? Not sure if you'd be shooting yourself in the foot doing this -- has anyone else chosen a voluntary demotion and lived to tell about it?

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2017, 05:49:45 PM »
I wouldn't mention the word "weakness" in reference to myself ever. Just say you were evaluating your strengths, or self or whatever.

Got it.  Agreed.  I was typing out the above pretty quickly off the top of my head earlier this morning.

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2017, 05:52:59 PM »
Not sure how well this translates to your field, but I felt it was worth adding. At my job, whenever it comes to hiring and promotions, there is a quiet saying amongst supervisors: you can teach experience, but you can't teach personality. You have been eyed for a reason. The fact that you already possess and have been maintaining a positive reputation is half the battle. (Once that is gone, it is nearly impossible to come back in many cases.) I don't think your supervisor or anyone expects you to know everything upon immediately stepping into a new managerial role; having a can-do attitude and being open to challenges and growth is likely what they look for in a desirable candidate. It sounds like your supervisor has been vetting you for a while now, and I'm sure not without reason.

Of course, I understand you are saying the other major piece is the work-life balance, which is its own can of worms. Any idea how possible it is at your company to accept the position and try it out, and then re-evaluate if it turns out to not be a great fit? Not sure if you'd be shooting yourself in the foot doing this -- has anyone else chosen a voluntary demotion and lived to tell about it?

I agree she has a vested interest in me as she has aided greatly in my development.  And it's in her best interest that I perform well.

Regarding your second paragraph....mmmmm....I am not sure I know of anyone that's been voluntarily demoted.  Let's face it....unless the position is temporary there's really no way to 'try it out'...either you're fully in or not.  Demotion seems comparable to that "black mark" I referenced earlier and something I'd hate to imagine having to go through.

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2017, 05:54:47 PM »
I can't speak for your employer... they really differ from place to place.

I've worked places that have both a managerial track and a technical track.  The technical path lets you still get promotions and raises, but you just don't go into management.  I worked 18 years at one place without ever entering management.  Many of my friends dipped their toes in management... then had the same realization as you: they didn't want it.  And they stepped back to where I was and enjoyed the technical track.

I have seen some places that think if you don't go into management that you are dead weight... and that you're "taking a spot" meant for some other person coming up the ladder.  I'd avoid places like that.

Are you in engineering?  IT?

I've worked in both software engineering and IT.  This particular company even re-named all their IT positions just to align with higher paying positions.  In other words, we were "Systems Programmers" (or Sr Systems Programmers or Principle Systems Programmers or ...) instead of "Unix Administrators" because they were trying to align with a higher pay scale in the industry.

I really burned out there... but in retrospect they did SO many things right for the employees.  (The burnout was mostly my own fault.)

Ah, I see.

Thanks for sharing.

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2017, 05:57:03 PM »
I did get promoted up through the ranks and found that I did not enjoy management. When I decided to switch jobs, I looked for one where I could be a "subject matter expert" rather than a manager. Perhaps this is the conversation you should have with your employer? If they pressure you, perhaps say something vague like "personal circumstances" make it impossible for you to take on management responsibilities?

Within my department, its either stay within my role or move up to the next one.  So I'm either moving up on this (only one available) track, or I'm sitting 'idle' on it. 

When you switched jobs, was it within the same company? 

pbkmaine

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2017, 06:04:04 PM »
No, different company. There do seem to be an increasing number of companies, though, recognizing that not everyone wants to move up.

Schaefer Light

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2017, 08:12:35 AM »
However, my manager works about 75 hours a week; I'm currently at more like 50-55.

75 hours a week is not physically or mentally healthy over the long-term. I've done it for short periods and it was truly soul draining. If that's really what you're looking at, I'd give a hard pass on that offer.

Yes, that is what I would be looking at.

Let me add that my company is a global one, so...our projects are global.  If you get an email at 10:00 pm and its urgent you need to tend to it.  If you consistently don't answer any email coming in past 7 pm your boss will notice it.  I hold meetings with my colleagues in Asia frequently...I lead these meetings which means after work I sometimes rush home to get back online to work more.  The nature of our jobs is not a 9-5ish by any means.  It's more of a "you're always plugged in" sort of job.

No way I would do that.  I'm in a management position and avoid emails (and sometimes even texts) like the plague after hours and on the weekend.  The way I see it, the more hours I work the lower my hourly pay is ;).

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2017, 08:39:05 AM »
However, my manager works about 75 hours a week; I'm currently at more like 50-55.

75 hours a week is not physically or mentally healthy over the long-term. I've done it for short periods and it was truly soul draining. If that's really what you're looking at, I'd give a hard pass on that offer.

Yes, that is what I would be looking at.

Let me add that my company is a global one, so...our projects are global.  If you get an email at 10:00 pm and its urgent you need to tend to it.  If you consistently don't answer any email coming in past 7 pm your boss will notice it.  I hold meetings with my colleagues in Asia frequently...I lead these meetings which means after work I sometimes rush home to get back online to work more.  The nature of our jobs is not a 9-5ish by any means.  It's more of a "you're always plugged in" sort of job.

No way I would do that.  I'm in a management position and avoid emails (and sometimes even texts) like the plague after hours and on the weekend.  The way I see it, the more hours I work the lower my hourly pay is ;).

Like I mentioned, you would be called out for that.

I have the type of position where it's possible you could have a doctor emailing you at night because it's morning his time in his country and he has a patient at his facility and a question about whether they can proceed with doing something with that patient before the patient leaves by close of business that day.  The question may not be emergent (as in, answer STAT), but in such a case would be considered urgent (as in, based on the above scenario if you're awake and see this question you need to answer it).

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2017, 08:50:11 AM »


Anyways, I digress.  Do I need more motivation?  My company is huge on promoting and is growing very fast; they have made it clear they expect employees to learn more and they will be rewarded by being promoted.  I did receive one promotion already after 1 year here.  Can I expect to continue working here or that it will become an issue at one point that I'm not really amenable to "doing more"?  I don't want to come off as a "waste of an employee"...I'm just already thinking about how to handle this as it will need to be addressed somehow and I just don't know how yet.

All personal opinion here, based on my personal experience in what may be a similar position, so I'll put that caveat upfront.

I think you've got the right idea, you've hit a sweet spot where you're challenged but have enough time to actually live your life. You're in touch with what's important to you and climbing the ladder isn't a required ingredient.

My opinion: you can't generally be honest with most employers about such a mindset; the larger the company the more it seems they expect career progressions at some predetermined time interval. I suspect it will eventually come up in annual reviews. I'd ride the current wave you're on as long as possible but be working on an escape strategy in case the reckoning happens. For me, it was getting a little side stream income from real estate rentals, which I steadily increased for about 5 years. For you, it might be networking within the industry, saving the contact info of headhunters that call, etc. When my previous employer decided to "downsize", my name was on the list and I don't regret pushing myself harder than I did.

If I wanted to work elsewhere I could, as I suspect could you if the same happens to you. If you're happy with where you're at, don't push yourself. Happiness with a high 5 figure salary is pretty damn priceless. Trust your instincts on this and enjoy it while it lasts.

EconDiva

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #32 on: October 05, 2017, 08:57:19 AM »


Anyways, I digress.  Do I need more motivation?  My company is huge on promoting and is growing very fast; they have made it clear they expect employees to learn more and they will be rewarded by being promoted.  I did receive one promotion already after 1 year here.  Can I expect to continue working here or that it will become an issue at one point that I'm not really amenable to "doing more"?  I don't want to come off as a "waste of an employee"...I'm just already thinking about how to handle this as it will need to be addressed somehow and I just don't know how yet.

All personal opinion here, based on my personal experience in what may be a similar position, so I'll put that caveat upfront.

I think you've got the right idea, you've hit a sweet spot where you're challenged but have enough time to actually live your life. You're in touch with what's important to you and climbing the ladder isn't a required ingredient.

My opinion: you can't generally be honest with most employers about such a mindset; the larger the company the more it seems they expect career progressions at some predetermined time interval. I suspect it will eventually come up in annual reviews. I'd ride the current wave you're on as long as possible but be working on an escape strategy in case the reckoning happens. For me, it was getting a little side stream income from real estate rentals, which I steadily increased for about 5 years. For you, it might be networking within the industry, saving the contact info of headhunters that call, etc. When my previous employer decided to "downsize", my name was on the list and I don't regret pushing myself harder than I did.

If I wanted to work elsewhere I could, as I suspect could you if the same happens to you. If you're happy with where you're at, don't push yourself. Happiness with a high 5 figure salary is pretty damn priceless. Trust your instincts on this and enjoy it while it lasts.

I still come back to this thread every so often. I found my way back to it today (10/5/17) to provide a small update that I might be getting closer to the 'reckoning'...basically my boss sent me a position she wants me to consider applying for. Now that she's sending them directly to me I think my time riding out this current position will come to a close even faster than I thought.  I agree with this post that I don't think I can be honest about not wanting it.

I have come to the conclusion recently (well I've known this for quite some time)...that I can't do what I'm doing forever and need to consider additional streams of income.  I just don't know where to start! 

I have chosen to apply for this position as a manager but it is highly unlikely I will get it as people don't usually get them on the first round.  It will however put me at the top of the list for additional future management positions which come up often.  Now that I work remote and finally got some more life balance, this type of position (management) will be even harder to do.  Just not worth the money IMO but also it's not worth me sacrificing my current reputation as someone who is not willing to move up.  I think it's great my boss thinks I'm ready and all - I just envisioned having way more time in my current position than it seems like I will actually have. 

Perhaps this is my wake up call to get my butt in line and do more outside of my job.

Bicycle_B

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #33 on: October 05, 2017, 07:49:12 PM »
Maybe devise plans to do your proposed new job in ways that stealthily give you more time off work, then pitch them in the interview, complete with a folder of flowcharts and examples or something? Offer benefits - "more employee retention, we need to make this shift to sustain growth, better for building responsible team members..." If you don't get the job, then you get props for trying, but if you get the job, you've created a path for doing it in a healthy way.  Interviewing with a plan in hand looks organized, maybe they'll accept it.

Or, look for jobs in companies that claim good work/life balance?

Anyway, good luck. 

Megma

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Re: What if you don't want to climb the ladder?
« Reply #34 on: October 05, 2017, 08:45:38 PM »
I just want to say econdiva, that I'm there with you. I was promoted in January and i have no desire to move beyond this level, maybe ever. It would mean more money,  yes,  but also more stress and travel. F that. I'm happy. Funny enough, i remember being super ambitious and wanting to trace up the ladder when i was 25... not that long ago.

What's your fire target and how close are you? Can you move to a smaller company where there would be less pressure to move up (bc there aren't positions usually)? Some companies like employees or are ok with them staying put in roles a long time.

Good luck to you!