What To Do When You Don’t Want To Be Promoted At Work

By Amanda Kavanagh
18 December 2023 | 15 Shares

Source: Shutterstock

In the year of “quiet ambition”, “quiet quitting” and “lazy girl jobs”, a new survey unsurprisingly shows that employees are more interested in de-centring work in their lives, and are shifting their priorities accordingly.

In August 2023, HR data analytics experts Visier surveyed 1,000 U.S.-based employees who identify as individual contributors – employees who manage themselves on projects and tasks – about their ambitions inside and outside of work.

Some 67% of employees surveyed said their ambition was to spend more time with family and friends, 64% said their focus was being physically/mentally well, and 29% said doing well in hobbies was a priority.

Just 9% said becoming a people manager was an ambition, and 4% said becoming a C-suite executive is their goal.

If being promoted into a role with people management and greater responsibility is your worst nightmare, what can you do to keep your motivation and ambition?

Know your priorities

It’s a well-worn path; employee is good at the job, employee is promoted out of that job, employee misses the elements of the original job they were good at, and spends most of their days on people problems.

This is the automatic ascension in most corporate environments, so to go against the grain, you’ll need to identify what’s important to you.


Source: Shutterstock

The Visier survey questions offer up some suggestions to consider: spending time with family, friends and pets, being physically/mentally healthy, traveling, getting a raise, doing well in hobbies, flexible working, getting promoted, building a family, volunteering for a good cause, starting your own business, becoming  a people manager and becoming a C-suite executive.

Give each of these a grading: Very Important, Important, Moderately Important or Not Important.

Then list them in order of priority. Use this list to guide your immediate work decisions, and review the list regularly – at least annually – as priorities generally shift over time.

Communicate with your manager

The term ‘individual contributor’ is a lot more palatable to management than saying you’ve no interest in ascending the corporate ladder as they have.

When it comes to review time, it’s good to talk about your long-term ambitions.

You don’t need to be totally honest and let them know walking your dog twice a day is your top priority, but you can frame your ambitions in a more work-friendly way.

Know how your deep expertise in your particular area benefits the business, and show you’re going to develop this knowledge further in the coming year. This could be self-directed learning or something more formal, but keeping your development going is twofold.

Firstly, it’s important for your own motivation, and secondly, it’s useful for keeping management off your back.

Bonus points if your new area of interest is in cloud, AI, ML or is cybersecurity based, all hot topics for all types of organizations right now.

Focus on lived values

Most organizations diligently list their values on their website these days, but do they actually live them?

If you’re already working somewhere you’ll know, but if job hunting, you’ll ideally ask someone who works there already, or failing that, you’ll have to figure it out at interview stage.

Ask open-ended questions about work-life balance, flexible work, what the work environment is like, opportunities for professional growth, support for individual contributors, logging off on time, typical timescales for career progression, team working models, values and people management styles.

If you’re not happy with the answers, perhaps it’s not the organization for you. Buf if you’re ready to look for something new, the Tech HQ Job Board has thousands of new roles available in-person and remote across America, and beyond, like these:

Software Engineer, the NBA, Secaucus

There are plenty of reasons to apply for this Software Engineer role with the NBA. Firstly, it’s available for remote workers. Secondly, the subject matter is ideal for sports fans. The successful candidate will join the team responsible for ingesting player pose tracking data, generating new metrics based on the data and serving those insights to fans, broadcasters, NBA teams and groups within the league office in real-time. By building resilient software to ingest and process millions of data points and serve new insights up to fans, you will need to wear a lot of hats, and will contribute to the development of large-scale cloud architecture for real-time ingestion and transformation of various big data sources. As usual, the role requires a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering or related field, and two years’ of software development experience using at least one of the following: Java, Golang, Python and/or C++. Interested? Apply today.

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