Is It Ever a Good Idea to Turn Down a Promotion?
You’ve worked hard, you’ve done a great job and now you’re getting rewarded: by being offered a promotion. Getting a new job offer from your employer can be exciting. But are there ever times a promotion doesn’t align with your career path? Are there cases where saying “no” to career advancement can help you long-term?
You don’t have to agree to take on a promotion immediately. Ask for some time to consider it – a few days is reasonable. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the new roles and responsibilities. Ask your manager how each option you may choose will impact your career path.
Then ask yourself the following questions to make sure a promotion is the right fit for you.
1. Are Those Butterflies or Sickness?
Some uncertainty is normal when you’re being asked to change your career. But if sick-to-your-stomach feelings aren’t going away after a day or two, you might not be ready to take on that new role.
Try to identify if you’re feeling how you normally do when you’re nervous, or if the feelings are more severe and out of the ordinary. Tune in to your gut feeling and use that to influence your decision.
2. Does the New Workload Energize You?
A more advanced position typically means more responsibility and higher expectations. If you’re perfectly engaged at your job, consider whether your new role will make you feel fulfilled or is more likely to make you consistently unhappy.
Remember that your job can have significant effects on your health. If you feel like you’ll be overwhelmed and chronically stressed, realistically consider how the position can impact your well-being.
3. Are the Rewards Worth the Work?
Run a cost-benefit analysis of your new role. If the promotion aligns with your career goals, it may be worth going for even if the pay increase isn’t that substantial. But if you’re content with your current role and you’re being offered a meager raise for lots more work, it may be better to say no.
As you take time to consider the promotion, talk with others who have been in similar roles at your company or at other businesses. Try to get a realistic view of what the job entails, then consider if what you’re being offered makes it worthwhile.
4. Would I Tell Someone Else to Take This Opportunity?
Getting a promotion offer can be an emotional experience. You might feel proud and happy that you’ve been recognized with the offer. You might be unsure of your capabilities, even though you’re a perfect fit for the role.
Try to visualize how you’d advise someone in your shoes to proceed. View the situation objectively. Think about what you’d recommend if the person seeking insight was a trusted friend. Removing yourself from the situation and taking an outsider’s point-of-view can help bring clarity.
5. Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?
Another way to judge if a promotion is right for you is to write out a pros and cons list. Even if the pros column is longer, you still need to decide how much worth each “pro” has and how much weight each “con” contains.
Writing out your thoughts can help you understand the situation more clearly from all angles. You can read over everything you’ve been thinking about so that as you make your decision, you know you’ve considered all aspects to the promotion.
Next Steps to Take If You Want to Turn Down a Promotion
If you’ve determined a promotion offer isn’t worth it to you, there are a few options you can take.
When the pay isn’t high enough or the role isn’t a fit
Take a promotion offer as an opportunity to negotiate. Maybe a more senior title appeals to you, but you don’t want to take the exact role that’s being offered. You might see if you can move into a different leadership role that still offers higher pay but that has different responsibilities.
If you’re interested in the job but the pay doesn’t match your expectations, express that to your boss. You might be able to negotiate a higher salary for the promotion.
Be appreciative and thankful for the offer, but explain what your expectations are for that type of role. Research similar positions and determine what you view your worth based on your contributions to the role would be.
When you don’t want to leave your current job
You may be hesitant to take on a promotion because you love your current job, team and duties. Share that with your employer. A promotion offer gives you a chance to discuss your career goals with your boss and explain that you enjoy contributing in your current role.
Employees who use their strengths feel more engaged at work, are more productive and profitable, and produce higher-quality work, according to Gallup research. Maybe the promotion that’s being offered doesn’t utilize your strengths, but there are other growth opportunities that would.
Frame the conversation positively. Express that you are eager to continue contributing to the organization and provide examples of how you intend to.
When you’re not quite ready
If you’re unsure of your capabilities in the new role but it interests you, ask if you’d be able to take on the role temporarily or assist someone in the role to get a feel for if it’s a fit for you. If you feel like you need training, express that. For example, if you’re offered a management position, you might ask to be supported and take a leadership or public speaking course.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to be gracious when you’re offered a promotion. Your company has shown it believes in you and your potential. It’s acceptable to think over such a significant decision and to be honest in how you feel about the opportunity. Act with respect and gratitude so whatever you decide receives a positive response.