Each Monday, BND staff writer Brittney M. Helmrich will answer your questions about careers, leadership, office life and social media in her advice column, "Dear Brittney." Got a professional problem you just can't figure out? Send your conundrums to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Dear Brittney" to have your questions featured.
I've been at my job for more than 5 years now, but I've been feeling like my current position is lacking. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview for a different position on another team within my company. This position wouldn't come with too much of a pay raise, but right now I'm in our office in the suburbs and this job would allow me to work from our downtown office. Plus, it would add diversity to my everyday work tasks. I haven't received an offer yet, but there have been talks about scheduling another on-site interview soon. The problem is, my current manager doesn't know about my interview and just approached me about moving into a management role. This role would come with a significant pay raise, but, I'd be unable to move to the downtown office and my workload would be almost unbearable. I feel like I'm expected to accept the role (after all, who turns down a promotion?) and since this other position isn't secured yet, it feels risky. Do I wait it out and hope for the position on the other team to come through, or take the promotion even though I know it'll make me miserable?
- Stuck in the Suburbs
Dear Stuck in the Suburbs,
Having multiple job options and offers should be a good thing, but when you find yourself in a situation like this one, it can be really difficult to find anything positive. On one hand, you have options, but on the other hand, one of those options already scares you, and the other is a gamble. When you're faced with a difficult decision like this, the smartest thing to do is to weigh the pros and cons.
At this new potential position, you'll get to move to the downtown office, which seems to be something you're excited about — that's a pro. Another pro: You'll get to take on new, more interesting responsibilities. The con? Your pay raise will be minimal.
For this promotion, you already know you'll be miserable (con No. 1) and that your workload will be unbearable (con No. 2). Another con: You won't be able to move to the downtown office. The only pro in sight? More money.
The promise of a significant raise can be exciting, but it means absolutely nothing with no other perks. If you're not happy, no amount of money will make you happy. I know, I know — that sounds cliché. But it's true.
You already know that taking this promotion, regardless of salary or status, will make you miserable. You already know that this other role, with added responsibilities and a change of scenery, can make you happier. So, you already know what to do — you're just looking for confirmation, because you're worried about what others might think, which is normal. But the thing is, when it comes to your happiness and well-being, only your opinion matters. I think your opinion is that you shouldn't take this promotion, and my opinion — since you asked — is that you're right.
Don't take this promotion just because you think it will offend your boss if you turn it down. Don't take this promotion just because you think it's silly to say no to a new title and a pay raise. Don't take this promotion just because you're not sure that this other job will come through. Only take this promotion if it's right for you. And from what you've already said, it's not. You say your workload will be unbearable and that you'll be miserable — things no one should ever feel about their job. Occasional stress and unhappiness is normal, but misery is not. [See Related Story: Quiz: Are You Too Stressed Out at Work? ]
I can't make this decision for you, but hypothetically, let's just say you do turn down this promotion. You have to do so tactfully, because you don't know if this other position is going to come through, and if or for how long you'll still be at your current job.
So how do you tell your current boss "no" without offending him or her? The way I see it is, you have two options: You can be honest with your manager and mention the interview, or you can ask your boss for some time to think it over. If your boss agrees to the latter, take a few days and then politely tell him or her that, although you appreciate the opportunity, you don't feel like you're ready to take on a management role at this time. Hopefully, your boss won't try to push you into accepting anyway — if this is the case, go to HR for help. If you choose to tell your boss about the interview, you should go to HR and/or the other department you're interviewing with to discuss it first, just in case your boss is upset about the news.
There's also something you're not considering: looking elsewhere for employment. Your future does not have to depend on getting this other job at your company versus taking this promotion. If you're determined and talented enough to score an interview with another department in your company, you're determined and talented enough to score interviews with other companies. Don't limit yourself. You have great things to offer, so don't settle. If you're not going to take this promotion, start actively putting yourself out there and looking for other positions, just in case this other job doesn't come through. (Don't make the mistake of taking the first job that comes your way just to escape, either — you could end up in this same position all over again.)
Whatever decision you make, I hope you find the fulfillment and happiness you deserve. Good luck!