Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Offering a unique value proposition as an employee 13: understanding and strategically responding to new work positions offered

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on July 25, 2013

This is my thirteenth posting to a series on offering defining value as an employee, and on presenting yourself as the answer to problems faced while doing so (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 311-322 for Parts 1-12.) And my goal here is to address a career puzzle that most of us would like to face as a matter of principle, but that can raise doubts and decision challenges when actually confronted.

You land a job with a business and successfully transit its new hire probationary period. You work well with your manager who directly supervises your work and who conducts your performance reviews, and you get along with and work successfully with your colleagues and with the stakeholders who rely on and require the work that you do, for facilitating and enabling what they do. If you work directly with your employer’s customers or clients, you successfully complete your work with them and in a timely and cost-effective manner. If you are in Sales, your customers buy. In any case and regardless of the specific functional area that you work in, you earn and receive favorable reviews. So you have built a solid foundation for developing a really good professional reputation for your work there. And this might follow an already established pattern of solid performance from your prior work. Then you hear of a possible career move and you may even hear of this in the context of being asked to apply for it. What should you do? That all depends. And my goal for this posting is to more fully discuss that answer, delving on what this does, or at least should depend on.

I will delve into at least some of the details in what follows, but as a matter of general, orienting principle this type of decision should be based upon a detailed consideration and understanding of:

• What your current job and work situation are like, and their pros and cons,
• What this new job opportunity would offer, and both short-term and for further advancement potential and long-term, and
• How these two alternatives would respectively address your current and long-term career goals and plans.

I stress here that the factors that you would consider as having high priority for this might not all directly address your work life per se and how you expend your time on the job. Think in terms of your overall life and of your life goals here, and in how your choices to stay where you are now professionally, or take this new opportunity would affect you as a full person. Couch this in terms of your full life and your family life and the full range of sources of value that you hold to. In this regard, and as a set of reference resources, I cite my series: Creating a Meaningful Work and Life Balance (at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development as postings 150-157 for Parts 1-8.) So for example, as one possible detail that you might have to consider here in going through the exercise of those three bullet points:

• If you have established roots in a community, and your spouse has a good job that they would have to leave if you relocated, and your and your spouse’s family live in this community, and you would lose a rich and personally important network of friends if you left,
• These all raise non-work but still significant quality of life issues, and work and life balance issues that would probably enter into your thoughts and decision making,
• If you were offered a job offer that would be good for you career-wise, but that would require relocation to a distant city.

People face this particular type of choice all of the time, and in our increasingly interconnected world this type of decision point can only be expected to come up more and more often and for more and more of us. There is no one best answer: to relocate and take that new job offer, or stay put and continue your career where you are now. I raise this because this type of decision is about jobs and careers but it is about more than just that too; it is about living a complete and full life.

• In this regard, I stress that if you do not take this fuller range of issues and their consequences into account in your decision making processes, and when making those turning point career choices, you might very well find that the choices that you have made, or even simply fallen into have been skewed and short-sighted.
• If you ignore important sides to your life here and keep doing so, you will find your life shifting out of balance – and as you see and understand what a truer balance would be.
• And that, long-term, leads to stress and burnout and dissatisfaction. This is important.

Now let’s consider the details of a potential career move. You are asked to apply for a specific new position with the company that you work for already and that you like working for. Your overall long-term career goals would take you higher up the table of organization and ultimately to a C level position running the overall functional area that you work in now. If this new opportunity is a one that very clearly and directly takes you one step closer to your overall career goals then your decision making might be fairly straightforward. But even here, you have to take work and life balance issues into account, and I add more as well.

• What if this career advancement would mean relocating to a distant office to take over management of a team that has been performance challenged?
• How and why has that situation developed?
• Who would you be reporting to and what are they like? If they are difficult to work with and resentful that the home office would “interfere” in their operations, and if they are likely to in some way take that out on whoever shows up to fill this manager’s position, you at the very least have to know that and know what types and levels of support you would get in dealing with and seeking to defuse these challenges.
• A step in what on paper would seem to be the right direction might be anything but that. This might be your best possible move and certainly if you are offered it with support and from more senior managers who understand what you face – and if they are grooming you for more challenging and still higher level responsibilities with this. This might be a dead end position and certainly if the more senior managers who would send you there do not see or understand the challenges that this new position would be burdened with.

Now as a second scenario, consider a situation where you are offered what would best be considered a lateral move – to a same level position on the table of organization that is out of your direct intended career path and that would appear to be more of a move into what might seem a parallel or even a divergent path. Should you take this offer or pass on it?

• Sometimes this type of position can offer real value and opportunity for helping you to expand and flesh out your skills and experience sets, and for gaining a new level and type of insight into your business overall, that you would in fact need if you are to advance along your desired career path as far as you want to take it.
• Sometimes this would be more of a way to make a fundamental career path change, and be more of an exit from the path that you at least now and to this point, have been working towards. That, I add, is not necessarily the end of the world even if this second bullet point more accurately describes what this proffered job might bring you. What if your business, and in fact essentially your entire industry is undergoing a fundamental shift where the types of work that you have been doing and managing are either being outsourced, and to lower and lower cost distant providers, or automated and effectively done away with?

My overriding point for all of this discussion is that you need to think through and understand both what is being offered you and what its’ short and long-term consequences would be. And you have to go through that due diligence analysis in parallel with a similar one for where you are now and for the short and long-term consequences of simply staying where you are now. You can find surprises, and both unexpected positives and unexpected negatives either way in this.

• What are the consequences if you accept a proffered change? Will this in some way help you to bank good will and to develop a positive rapport with people who could help you to advance your career past this new move?
• What are the consequences if you chose not to take on that challenge and opportunity? Would this in some way instill hard feelings or convey a message that you are not really a team player who would step up and take care of and resolve problems faced when needed for that?

Whatever you decide here, you need to decide with your eyes open.

I have found myself thinking of an earlier posting that I added to this blog in 2010: A Critique of the Peter Principle – career as a series of growth and transition phases and I am going to continue this discussion in my next series installment with that in mind. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at my first Guide directory page on Job Search and Career Development.

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