A couple weeks ago my boss, who is part the executive team at my company, told he he quit.
Good for him.
He’s been screwed over by the company too many times and his career hit a brick wall. He is leaving for a better position (and presumably better pay).
His departure creates a vacuum for my department. That vacuum attracts all sorts of people vying for power. But it also raises the question for me, as one of his natural successors: do I go for his job?
Of course, this assumes the company doesn’t restructure my boss’s position away to save money. We could all just get haphazardly lumped into another group. After all, budgets are under huge pressure so getting replacement headcount is very difficult.
But let’s imagine his position is made available.
Before simply applying I have to know if I really want his position. I’ve risen in the ranks enough to have a good-enough income and a great balance between strategy and execution. I’ll be honest…I’m comfortable. Ten years ago I wanted to aggressively increase my income. Today I’m more interested in writing, family, health and becoming financially independent than climbing the corporate ladder. I’d rather build alternate sources of income (which I’m doing) than double-down on my current source.
Besides, do I really want to be even less in touch with the day-to-day action and more involved with corporate bureaucracy?
The higher you go the more you need to align with the corporate propaganda, which I already find sickening. Is it worth selling your soul for a better title and slightly better paycheque.
People who are promoted tend to get less money than those who move to other companies. Most employers are cheap. They think they’re doing you a huge favour by promoting you, which they use as justification for a weak raise.
Moreover, you must consider the after tax impact of whatever pitiful raise you get. Often, if you break it down it might come down to an extra $50-100 per week in your pocket. For many, that wouldn’t be worth the extra work and stress.
A pay raise on its own – regardless of how insignificant – might still sound enticing. Why not just take the extra money?
In reality, there’s more to the decision than just money. The new position will come with huge expectations and uncertainties. You are selling your time, comfort and health for additional money that might not really make a difference to your life.
Of course, many just chase the titles. If that’s your bag then all the power to you. But if you have a life outside of work, then you need to look at the full picture.
If I don’t apply for my boss’s old position, others will. That opens up a whole other set of issues. A new person will want to make their own imprint and might try to fix things that don’t need fixing for the sake of ‘making a difference’. Do I really want to report to someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing?
A new boss from outside the company would also come with a new set of pressures. He or she would need to live up to high expectations, meaning the people reporting to him must follow suit. So regardless of whether I take the job or not, the pressure will be on.
Alternatively, perhaps a more familiar face – one of my colleagues for example – gets the job. If this happened, the pressure wouldn’t be as intense as if an outsider took the role. But how will it feel to report to someone who was once my equal? Indeed, there’s the possibility that I would report to someone who reported to me three years ago. That admittedly would be a big hit to my ego.
I have to remove emotions from the decision. I care about money, return on effort, intellectual stimulation, freedom and balance. I don’t care about titles, personal empires or corporate politics. I just want my highly specialized team and I to support the business the best we can.
This is not a decision to take lightly. Either I go for it or I don’t. Rejecting an offer on the table from your employer is a career limiting move. If I reject them, they will never make another offer to me again. If I apply for the role, I have to be prepared to accept it if offered. If I have conditions (e.g. pay), I have to be clear on day one what they are.
Even if I don’t apply, if they offer the role to me it is a potentially limiting move (although less so) to turn it down. To do so would require explanation, and I can’t think of any honest explanation that wouldn’t come across as apathetic or disengaged.
I’m still working through my thought process, but I think if they offered me the role I’d take it. I would do my best to maintain my current work-life balance and I’d craft the position into something I’d enjoy. Importantly, I wouldn’t lose sight of my ultimate goal to create lasting wealth and financial independence.