Workplace: How to head down the career ladder without any pitfalls

  • Living
  • Monday, 27 Mar 2023

Some employees find it is worth considering moving away from management responsibilities. Photo: dpa

If you aren’t interested in becoming a manager or getting promoted, then you may be among the many people who are considering downshifting – choosing to reduce their pace at work.

Often, this means giving up some responsibility. Here are some ways you can take work down a level and avoid potential pitfalls, says career consultant and sociologist Martina Bandoly.

Who tends to choose to give up leadership responsibility?

Bandoly: Often, these are managers who want to focus mainly on the content side of work.

Bosses have personnel responsibility which means managing conflict, negotiating salaries, frequent conversations with employees, agreeing on goals and going to lots of meetings. Many find it satisfying to move away from doing all that.

Others, though, just don’t want to work as many hours, or cannot be as flexible as they once were, or do not want to be. They too find it’s worth considering moving away from management responsibilities.

How do I approach the whole ‘stepping-back’ issue?

Ask yourself when the last time was that you felt a sense of flow in a professional setting? What are the activities that you enjoy and don’t have to keep nudging yourself to do something? You might find it helpful to talk to a coach to help you clarify some of these things.

Do some preparation so you are ready before you talk to your boss and think about how they too can best profit from your proposal.

As a rule, what bosses appreciate are employees who are motivated. Consider that timing matters when it comes to this suggestion. If your employer has just accepted a large order and is low on staff, that could well come across as bad timing.

You may need to be armed some good arguments, as your boss is not obligated to facilitate your step back in career terms.

For example, an engineer wanting to work on a more technical area, focusing on content, would want to persuade the boss that all the talking with staff and multiple meetings stand in the way of doing technical work, preventing them from really delivering optimally in an area where they are strong.

If time is the reason why you want to have less responsibility, then be careful but honest in describing your situation. You might want to keep your previous job but on a part-time basis. Naturally, the corporate culture in your workplace will determine how openly you can communicate.

What problems should I be prepared for?

Think about what you would do if the boss says no. Would it be an option to change your job or employer?

Less personnel responsibility can also mean a drop in salary, though it is not necessarily the case and is a matter for negotiation. After all, the earnings can be similar, whether for a technical expert or a manager.

Your colleagues too might be puzzled and curious about your decision to step back, and they may not understand, or wonder if it is associated with a problem or failing, so I advise you to communicate openly with your colleagues about your reasons. – dpa/Marie von der Tann

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Workplace , career , job , downshifting


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