When you don’t like the job
If you don’t actually want to do the job you’re being promoted to, that’s sort of a bad trade. Unless maybe the money is really, really good and you only plan to do it for a short time. Even then… I don’t know. That doesn’t scream “win-win” to me.
When you’re just trying to get out of a job you hate
If you hate your job, accepting a promotion might seem like a great exit strategy. But all those old adages apply – out of the frying pan, into the fire and the devil you do know vs. the one you don’t and all that. Remember that even if the grass is greener on the other side you still have to mow it.
When it will sidetrack your career goals
I’ve known people who have accepted a promotion because it seemed like a no-brainer. (A step up? Well, sure! Don’t mind if I do!) But then when you’re standing on that higher step you’ll have a better view of where you were going in the first place and it might be all the more obvious that you’re not on the right path anymore.
When you want to do the work, not manage the people who want to do the work
This is a classic problem – you’re good at your job, so you get promoted and then you’re no longer doing the job but managing people. The skill sets are totally different, and while you might be a great widget maker (or whatever) you might not be such a stellar manager. Or you might hate it. Either way, if you want to keep doing what you love, carefully consider a promotional opportunity if it means you’ll end up doing less of that work.
When it will mean too much work and not enough life
Work-life balance is a precarious thing, and a lot of times when people get promoted they realize the scales get tipped too far and balance isn’t so easy to attain. No biggie if you’re a workaholic, but not too fun when more pay and more responsibility also mean you’re tied to your cell phone or eating a few too many pizza slices at the office late at night.
When the reward really isn’t worth it
A colleague of mine recently got asked to fill in for her departing boss, which is flattering and all, but there was a catch: The raise was paltry and she would have had to keep doing her own job as well. That’s not a promotion so much as a sucker punch.
Have you ever turned down a promotion, or worse, accepted one and regretted it?