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Perspective: Demoting Yourself–Depends

Believe it or not there is a positive side to this, but be careful what you wish for.

As they should, all employees should receive supervisory, management and leadership training–if only to know their functions. Often the training is job related or of a more general nature. The training helped this young man know the differences and decide his own fate. This article represents a positive view from a person in government who received such training and received a promotion for being exemplary but the move didn’t work. My side of the tale is a little more cautionary as you might expect–my being older and wiser. Just kidding.

Here’s the tale: A colleague of mine on Gov Loop, wrote an interesting blog about demoting about himself to get what he truly wanted–when his promotion didn’t “agree” with him, Demoting Yourself–It Can Be a Good Thing. On his actions, I so glad it worked out well for him. My first thought! What good managers you have! On second thought: this doesn’t always turn out this well for everyone. He did the homework:

  • Know yourself (you work ethic, your work style, what makes you tick)
  • You’ve got to be happy with what you’re doing…if you’re not happy with what you do, it will be drain on both you and everyone else around you…or those that you manage. That’s worse then trying to stick it out.
  • Be honest with your managers. That might be hard for some to do, but the job of a manager is to help their people excel. If your manager is truly a good manager, they’ll find a way to do that.
  • Admit when you’re wrong. I’ve never backed down from a professional challenge. I did this time around. Admitting that wasn’t easy to do, but it was necessary.
  • Admitting you were wrong is =! fail (for you non-coders, =! means “not equal to”).”

I may not be supervising as Leader (big “L”) anymore, but I’m in a much better position to further excel at what I’m good at doing and STILL be a “leader.” In the end that’s good for me, my career, my life, and my organization.”

My trained colleague knew what needed to happen, advised management and it supported him. That is great! That’s the way management and true leadership should work. Leaders do that. I agree with another colleague in the group who said: “The fact that you were so well supported in this wise, but uncommon move by your managers is a testment to their integrity and training for their roles!”

However, there are some cautions to those employees who may not be as respected by their managers–who may be told, “Gee, after all the work I did to get you promoted, or may be told, “if you don’t like the change, stay where you are until another slot is available,” and you can’t always go as you expect it to. Some employers will support you all the way and even give you positive accolades on your evaluation. For some employees whose employers haven’t been honest with them…

Problem: there is no guarantee. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea; I think it’s great to do what you are best at and what you love.

For everyone: be careful. Not all bosses are great! They just get to stick to the top of the pack for some reason. Make sure you are the “shining star” the boss tells you at review time. You are admitting your strengths and weaknesses and that is where some employers will take advantage of those weakness admissions and highlight them rather than your frankness, which shows character and leadership potential of a different kind. Some bosses tell everyone they are practically perfect. Some go a step further. I had one supervisor who made any of her staff feel (when he or she were sitting with her on a one-on-one) each member was her best employee–that each was a special confidant. Once the employee realize it, she or he doesn’t know who or what to believe. Of course, this doesn’t create a trustful employee to employer situation (unlike your situation) and is a good morale breaker.

There is the supervisor, manager, or boss who tells you one thing in confidence, asks your opinion and then relays that to everyone you work with. This has nothing really to do with this article but it does place emphasis on the idea that you may not really know someone well, despite the meetings you have had. Be sure you do.

So, it doesn’t always work. It is also a way when an employer has to admit to making a mistake promoting you and can blame you in the end for being a disappointment in the job, or, what you wish for most–the informal “leadership” role may disappear when you go back to the ranks–thanks to a myriad of behind the scenes work to prove you shouldn’t have had the job in the first place. Most good employees do perform an informal leadership role and those shouldn’t be squandered, but they are sometimes for some else’s personal agenda.

Being a manager does require different skills and there are different types of managers so be careful not to leap at a promotion opportunity as many pointed out in my colleagues original blog, and I agree. Make sure it is what you want; the extra money, if there is any, may not be worth the headache and career move later to something more to your liking.

Getting the leadership, management, supervisory training is a good way to see if this is the life for you. It can also help you decide and help you navigate the system as professionally as possible.

To read more on this topic, especially my side, I wrote a couple of related articles you may be interested in reading: “Finding the Way Out of a Coffin That’s Nailed Shut (without removing one nail”) and its sister article, The Way Out of a Coffin That is Nailed Shut. Just so you see stories like these can have unhappy endings. Be careful and make sure you are in an environment that isn’t dysfunctional in these kinds of things. It takes up most of your life so don’t waste that valuable time unless it’s on something you love.

I’m sure there is more on the subject from you and I want to hear it. Feel free to be heard. SPAM I delete, but comments, even disagreeing ones offer a different perspective and I’m all for that. My website is always available for your thoughts and perusal as well. You’ll find I try to be a communicator because I think it is most important and all my life I have been the guy who says what he thinks. Under the category, What I Say, you find links to my other articles and blogs on different subjects.

My book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development, takes a look at the first person to train: the caveman and cave women. I called my book the “Cave” “Man” book for a couple of reasons. 1. I don’t live in a real cave, and 2. The “Cave” is where we work today. Check it out! I warn you, it may seem a little odd as I set the stage, but later chapters tie the basics together in ways you’ll appreciate. It’s not a How-To Book (they only give you the basics and there are plenty of those on the web, but The Cave Man Guide can get you thinking in the right direction for the most effective training for your company. It’s a E-Book for any level level of training. You can read it on the train into work and not feel you are working at all–or call it continuous learning. At least, that was my goal.

Happy training.

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