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I got a promotion, and I regretted it

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03.09.2019

Here at Fast Company, we write a lot about how to get promoted, when to ask for a promotion, and how to make a case for your promotion. But we also know promotions aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. Though frequently framed as a positive—a rung up the career ladder!—a promotion can bring longer hours and management responsibilities. Sometimes, it can even take you away from the work that you actually want to do.

In other words, a promotion isn’t always the right move for your career or personal life. Three people told us why they regretted taking one, how it impacted their careers, and what they wish they had done differently.

About six months into a job at a major tech company, Jack Delk snagged a promotion to a senior talent acquisition role. It should have been cause for celebration, but four of his colleagues had jockeyed for the promotion, and they weren’t having any of it. “When I got [the promotion], I thought it was great—that everything would be smooth sailing from there on out,” he says. He expected friendly congratulations, but said that’s not what happened.

Instead, he found that his coworkers—some of whom then had to report to him—were very critical. It felt like being back in school again, he says. “Unfortunately, the corporate world mirrors high school more than we sometimes like to admit,” he says. “I think truthfully, it’s a popularity contest; it’s not always the person with the best ideas but it’s the person with the best delivery who wins.” Delk didn’t feel like he had been “anointed” as one of those people—someone his colleagues would have seen as deserving of the promotion.

He concedes any competitive work environment can stir resentment, but Delk felt his employer did little to mitigate the tension. “I think the person who got the promotion would have had a target on their back, regardless of it was me or one of my team members,” he says. Even the transition to the new role, Delk says, wasn’t smooth. “I thought, ‘This is a giant company, they must know what they’re doing,'” he says. “But I don’t think there was awareness on their side of how bad their team culture was to begin with.”

To successfully promote team........

© Fast Company