Why A Promotion Isn’t Always A Good Thing

April 19, 2019  |  
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getting a promotion you don't want

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We are taught to always want more, strive for bigger things, and keep climbing the rungs of our professional latter. But, if we step back for a moment and consider how our career affects the other arenas of our lives, we may learn that getting that promotion or higher status isn’t always entirely a good thing. When someone gets a promotion, we may immediately envy her, but perhaps we shouldn’t. By all means, career success is a good thing but what success is means different things to different people. For some, a good work life balance means a successful life. For some, getting to operate in a way that perpetuates their own politics and beliefs is critical. For some, it’s all about the money (though it probably shouldn’t be). A promotion may not trigger these improvements. It all depends on your situation but if you are just going for a promotion because you think you’re supposed to, step back. Here are reasons a promotion isn’t always a good thing.

getting a promotion you don't want

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Longer hours

When you get promoted at work, that instantly comes with more hours. You don’t get to leave right at five, because you made dinner plans with a friend. There was an understanding, when you took this promotion, that you’d do the work until the work was done—not until the rest of the office leaves. You stay after that.

getting a promotion you don't want

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There may not be more pay

Depending on your role, your pay-per-hour may actually go down. Sure, you may have gone from making $18 an hour to making 65K a year, but you may also work 10 to 12 hour days now, and weekends, without getting paid overtime.

getting a promotion you don't want

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More responsibility 

You get much more responsibility—responsibility that you may not want. From a higher position, you can see more of what’s going on at the company. You become acutely aware of how your decisions affect the lives of so many people. It was less stressful being lower on the ladder and just getting to focus on your job.

getting a promotion you don't want

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The jobs of others are in your hands

You may also be in a position to make decisions that mean some people lose their jobs or get a pay cut. You can see what’s good for the company, and you have an obligation to do something about it, but your decisions may negatively affect others.

getting a promotion you don't want

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You have to give once-peers feedback

The people you once considered your peers—and who probably see you that way still—are now your subordinates. That means you have to tell the friends you once had lunch with when they’re doing a bad job or need to change something.

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You may need to fire someone

The further up you go, the more people are beneath you and the higher chance there is that you have to fire somebody. It’s not like the CEO of the company personally fires everyone who has to be let go. That task is passed down the ranks.

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You learn things you wish you hadn’t

You may learn things about the company you wish you didn’t know, like misuse of funds or unethical decisions. But, what’s worse is that you learn how complicated it is. You don’t necessarily have a better solution to what they’re doing.

getting a promotion you don't want

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You get dragged into the politics

The more powerful you become, the more politics you have to deal with. Things can get petty at the top. Things won’t be black and white. You will have to take sides. You don’t get to just stay out of it anymore.

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Your phone must always be on

You can say that you don’t take work calls on weekends or after 7pm, but good luck upholding that. If you ignore work emergencies for a while, that just means more work for you when you return. Nobody else is going to fix it but you.

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You see flaws you can fix

You will see some parts of the company that you know you can fix. You’ll feel strongly about the fact that, if the company would just take your advice on this or that, it would function much better. But they won’t always listen.

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You may not be ready

Every day, people get promotions for which they aren’t ready. They were able to fake it enough in the interview, and now they’re stuck with a job they don’t know how to do. This is the danger that comes with believing we should take a promotion if we get one. But, if you get a promotion for which you aren’t ready, you could start being dead weight at the company, whereas before, you were killing it in your lower position.

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Rubbing elbows with certain people

You’ll have to rub elbows, in a serious way, with people you don’t like. Before, all you had to do was give a polite “Hello” to these individuals in the hallway. Your paths didn’t cross in a real way. Now, you’re higher up, and you have to form relationships with them, whether you like it or not.

getting a promotion you don't want

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Hiring is also stressful 

You may also be in a position to hire certain individuals. And while you may have been told, before, that your company had a totally unbiased process of doing this, you’re about to see behind the curtain and realize that’s just not true. It will make you uncomfortable.

getting a promotion you don't want

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You feel torn between two worlds

You want to do what’s best for the company, because you now have a better view of things, but you also want to do what’s best for the individuals—your old peers—whom you still feel attached to. But what’s best for one won’t always be best for the other, and that’s a stress you’ll feel often.

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If you want to move companies 

If you hope to soon move companies, think long and hard about being promoted at your current one. You’ll have to do some research, but you may find that, if you are promoted to a very high position at your current job, then the company you hope to move to may find you overqualified and turn you down.

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