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Yet another work meeting where I'm made to feel a bit of a failure for not wanting promotion

(41 Posts)
BigSandyBalls2015 Tue 10-Nov-15 07:42:19

I like my job, the feedback I receive is good and bosses are happy with me and my work/life balance is fab (part time, working 4 days, 3 in the office).

However, over the course of the last year or two there have been several conversations about moving me up to the next grade/level if I did x, y, z. This is the problem, I don't want to push myself more to get promoted. I'm not interested in moving up to the next grade. There's no question about how I'm performing at this level - they all say I do more than enough - but they fail to see that I'm happy where I am.

My immediate boss is very ambitious, driven, her career is her life (emails being sent at 11/12pm, Sunday afternoons etc), holidays often cancelled. I know she finds it very hard to understand why I'm not like that - and I'm aware she sees it as a failure on my part. Yesterday she kept mentioning my children, saying they'd be 'off my hands' soon (two 14 year olds!), and what would I do then, now is the time to think about my career ......

I have hobbies, friends, two teens who do loads of sport/social stuff, an elderly mother/in laws. DH is running his own business which I could help more with if I had the time. I don't want to dedicate any more time to my 'career', if anything I'd like to do less! It's just a job to me, I do it well, I don't want promotion. I'm happy, leave me alone.

I seem to remember a thread like this recently but can't find it, but would appreciate views. Am I unmotivated and lack drive and ambition? I feel she almost pities me.

AyeAmarok Tue 10-Nov-15 07:45:35

I think you were the person Justine Roberts was talking about in her FT piece!

catfordbetty Tue 10-Nov-15 07:45:53

Have you ever tried to explain this to your bosses when promotion is discussed?

DoreenLethal Tue 10-Nov-15 07:46:39

There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be promoted and take on more work. Just keep saying 'no thanks, I love this job and don't want more responsibility ta'.

Bixxy Tue 10-Nov-15 07:50:50

Does she have children? Work was my life before kids and I naively still expected it to be - then I realised that actually I'd rather be at home with my children. I'm not, incidentally. Finances won't allow it. However, I deliberately chose a job in a school that I can do well and doesn't bore me too much, but lets me finish at 4.30 and work condensed hours in four days. I could be doing a lot more than I am, making use of my qualifications and industry experience, but I want a better work/life balance.

I think as long as you're happy - and it won't affect you keeping your current job - ignore the pressure. At least they still value you enough to offer you a path to promotion, remember that!

seaweed123 Tue 10-Nov-15 08:19:31

I think that some businesses want people to keep moving up, as it means they can get a cheaper person to do your job, and then replace your more expensive boss with you, etc. If you stay in the same job for a long time, you will (in theory) need pay rises occasionally, and that means that the role gets more expensive for them over time.

Obviously, all wages will go up with inflation, but e.g. my company keeps the grad recruitment starting salary the same for several years between increases. So folk with a few years experience and a few pay rises under their belt really need to be better than new grads. Otherwise, no managers would want them on their project, when they can get someone equivalent cheaper.

Oysterbabe Tue 10-Nov-15 08:28:52

My place is the same. I'm forever getting asked why I don't apply for a management job. Because I don't want one just now. Maybe that will change when the kids are older, maybe not.

ScottishDiblet Tue 10-Nov-15 08:31:48

I understand although my boss and I recently had a really good discussion about how the job I have now is perfect for my family situation and there's plenty of time to progress if and when I want to. In the civil service department I work in (and at my grade) there is this thing called the talent management grid where you put yourself and you can show your ambitions on it. It's totally fine if you say you are happy in your job and don't want to progress. I don't think there's any shame in that.

Chilledmonkeybrains Tue 10-Nov-15 08:33:28

I get this a lot at work. They don't seem to understand that I'm happy where I am. Having a female boss with kids doesn't actually help because she's career driven, uses a nanny, breakfast club, holiday club etc. and can't understand why I don't want to do the same.

Tootsiepops Tue 10-Nov-15 08:36:38

I remember the first time I told my new boss I wasn't interested in a promotion. She sat there with her mouth gaping a goldfish before she remembered to compose herself.

It's not for everyone. You just have to be very firm and clear about it.

BoboChic Tue 10-Nov-15 08:38:56

OP - I agree that ambitious female bosses can be really trying! Their extreme priorities are not for everyone but they have a hard time not despising those who don't share them.

mrsseed Tue 10-Nov-15 08:40:06

I used to have this (until I left and set up my own business). I had an ambitious female boss, with kids the same age as mine. Thankfully she understood but most other people didnt. I would tell them that I have a lovely life work balance, earn enough money, so why would I want the 24hour commitment that came with the next grade up. Then would add that I was lucky enough to choose to work and dont have to, so why would I want the grief?(the next level up meant a lot of out of hours commitment and a lot of hassle)

UnGoogleable Tue 10-Nov-15 08:51:43

You're winning at life OP. Don't feel bad about it!

I'm similar - I have my dream job. If I climbed the ladder I'd move into managerial stuff and leave my lovely job to someone else. I don't want that, I want to be doing this job for the next 30 years grin

When people put pressure on you, just say "I have a fab life, thanks, not changing it". or the old classic "I work to live, I don't live to work".

DrDreReturns Tue 10-Nov-15 08:55:28

I agree with you OP. My mantra is 'work to live, not live to work.' I earn enough money where I am, and I really do not want a promotion with all the extra hassle it entails. Fortunately I have always had bosses that understood that.

lorelei9 Tue 10-Nov-15 08:56:18

bigSandy - I am you! As long as I can pay the mortgage and manage my workload, I'm happy. I had a more stressful - and better paid job - before and it was pointless. Yes I had more money for luxuries and going out and I had no time or head space to appreciate them.

I don't have children. I do have a need for downtime and I get far too anxious and stressed without it. Plus the commuting - I work from home a fair bit now, in a more senior role that wouldn't be possible. Oddly enough, the person who took the last promotion I turned down is now constantly travelling to and from meetings - she was told it shoudln't change her homeworking but of course it does, if a client insists on meeting face to face you can't force them to Skype.

i insist on being properly paid for the role I do but I don't want to climb higher. I think there is a lot of pressure on men and women to do this. My sister calls it the "Management or die" conundrum. She has a job where the actual activity she does is something she really loves - if she moves into management it will be 80% managing and 20% the thing she really enjoys doing. There are many reasons why you wouldn't want to rise.

just saying, I feel for you. i don't how organisations think they would run if everyone was constantly fighting for promotions. My current boss does seem to have accepted the state of play though. if I won the lottery tomorrow, I wouldn't work. i have no use for it other than pay. i am planning early retirement too.

BigSandyBalls2015 Tue 10-Nov-15 08:58:20

I didn't read Justine's thread, will look that up.

Boss doesn't have children, she's early 40's, I'm late 40's. I have told her quite clearly that I'm not interested in promotion, I'm happy where I am, but she doesn't get it at all. In her team she wants everyone to be driven, dynamic, ambitious with a clear goal about the future, which involves pushing yourself out of your current 'comfort zone'.

I really feel like jacking it all in and getting a job in Waitrose/Tesco. Or is every job like this nowadays, perhaps stacking shelves involves pressure to achieve more and stack more within a certain time frame. Perhaps working on the till requires you to deal with a certain percentage of customers per hour or you're out, and you need to have clear aspirations to be running the shop in your '5 year plan'.

No-one has suggested my job is at risk if I don't 'move up', but it will be held against me, I know. It will be perceived as a lack of drive and ambition, rather than extremely happy with work/life balance.

That's another thing, they all talk about this 'work/life' balance, pay lip service to it, but in reality they aren't that interested. Same with the recent talk about 'mental health and well-being' apparently being a top priority with managers at the moment ...... can't see any evidence of action being taken, except the odd meeting/seminar with lots of speel.

DrDreReturns Tue 10-Nov-15 08:59:25

X post!

bluebolt Tue 10-Nov-15 09:01:20

Having worked many years in recruitment in areas where experience is a vital part of the job it can be a nightmare when very knowledgable employees prefer to remain static. It leads to the recruitment of less qualified employees in roles above the more equipped colleagues and the friction and resentment this then causes. I still made the choice to slow down after children but I can see why many employers are frustrated.

BigSandyBalls2015 Tue 10-Nov-15 09:02:29

I told her about hobbies, children, elderly relatives, DH's business etc etc, busy busy home life.

But later on I regretted not saying to her "actually it's rather nice to sit and read a book on my afternoon's off, catch up on some TV I've missed, or simply mumsnet, or god forbid, have a little snooze for half an hour". But she would be horrified!! Down time is for the weak.

BigSandyBalls2015 Tue 10-Nov-15 09:03:33

Thanks all for replies, it's interesting to get different perspectives on this.

lorelei9 Tue 10-Nov-15 09:03:31

BigSandy "Or is every job like this nowadays, perhaps stacking shelves involves pressure to achieve more and stack more within a certain time frame."

don't do it. One of my friends packed in his job and tried retail for a while - it was just same pressure for less pay.

also the Justine thread - don't conflate your personal stuff with that. Many people of both genders are not ambitious and work to live. There is nothing wrong with that.

I nearly posted oddly enough - not trying to hijack your thread but you might find it useful to hear this - I am 40 and still have a faint, very faint, sense of worry that I will regret not achieving more in my career. I have been thinking it over though and it's more about what people think of me, which would be a silly reason to try and achieve something. So don't be scared out of a job that suits you.

Millionprammiles Tue 10-Nov-15 09:04:00

"There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be promoted and take on more work."

Agree. And equally there's nothing wrong with wanting to be promoted and having childcare that supports it (or choosing not to have children) either.

In 20 years of a professional career I've yet to meet this evil, career driven female boss that ambitious women are often painted as.
Tbh I've found women bosses without children more supportive than male bosses with SAHWs who look after their kids. The latter have been utterly lacking in empathy.

OP: you've got a great set up, be upfront and honest with your manager, you've nothing to apologise for and neither has your employer.

DrDreReturns Tue 10-Nov-15 09:04:03

As an aside, my Dad was in a technical role for ages, which he was good at and happy to do. He told his employer twice he didn't want to be promoted into management. the second time they ignored him and forced him to do a management job anyway. He hated it, he found it really stressful, the end result was it made him ill and he took early retirement. Organisations can be so stupid about this kind of thing, if someone is happy where they are and doesn't want to move then don't force them to move.

lorelei9 Tue 10-Nov-15 09:05:18

PS I've also found that the relative pay increase often isn't worth it. After you take off tax, travel etc, sometimes it feels like a 30% stress increase for a 7% pay increase.

LockTheTaskBar Tue 10-Nov-15 09:06:10

I understand what you are saying but what we can't help you with is understanding your work culture and how well it would go down if you were to be really blunt about your goals in working.

As an pp has pointed out, pushing people up through the organisation is a way of getting everyone to do a bit more for a little less money. It plays a part in overall wage stagnation, or actually falling in real terms - you are always paying a little bit less in real terms, for the same work, by positioning it as "advancement". It may be that if you refuse to play this game and go along with this, they'll find ways of penalising you for it. What you like about the current situation may be subject to change; your hours might change, the rate of pay might fall, you might have more work squashed into fewer hours, they might rejig the team so you get more menial stuff to do and not really enough time to do it, you might not be allowed to do one day at home, etc. These are all ways of squeezing the deal - the deal works for you now but if they squeeze what you get out of it, it might not work so well any more.

Or - maybe not. Maybe you can just say "I'm happy to carry on performing well at this level and it's all i need or want" and that would be fine, it would still be felt to be a good deal for them.

Which do you think it is?
What kind of organisation is it?
what sort of people work there?
What's your feeling about everyone else's sense of ambition / job satisfaction?

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