Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 29 – the jobs and careers context 28

This is my 29th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-28.)

This is also my fifth consecutive posting to this series to specifically deal with issues that can arise at essentially any point during a professional’s tenure while working with some specific employer. And several of the basic topic points raised here are in fact most likely to arise for people well after their initial new hire onboarding and their initial probationary period there, and after they have largely settled into a job there. For smother continuity of narrative, I repeat this topics list as a whole as I continue addressing it, here focusing on its Point 4:

1. Changes in tasks assigned, and resources that would at least nominally be available for them: timeline allowances and work hour requirements definitely included there (see Part 25 and Part 26),
2. Salary and overall compensation changes (see Part 27),
3. Overall longer-term workplace and job responsibility changes and constraints box issues as change might challenge or enable your reaching your more personally individualized goals there (see Part 28),
4. Promotions and lateral moves,
5. Dealing with difficult people,
6. And negotiating possible downsizings and business-wide events that might lead to them. I add this example last on this list because navigating this type of challenge as effectively as possible, calls for skills in dealing with all of the other issues on this list and more, and with real emphasis on Plan B preparation and planning, and execution too, as touched upon in Part 23.

The above repeated Point 4 is one of the two shortest ones offered in this list by word count, and even if it were to be expanded out to include the possibility of demotions too. And it is also the most emotionally loaded and the least analytically thought through of all of them as well, and certainly for many people. We all tend to get caught up in the emotional baggage that understandably surrounds the key words involved there, and particularly when words like demotion are involved. So I begin addressing this topics point by stepping back from it as a whole and considering those two (and now three) key words in it for what they do and do not actually mean, and certainly in a practical real-world context: promotions and lateral moves … and demotions as well.

Let’s start this line of discussion by considering that third, newly added word: demotions. And I do so by posing a somewhat stilted appearing workplace scenario that I have in fact seen play out exactly as I will present it here, phrasing what follows in the second person in an attempt to prompt you the reader to think this through as if you were facing this situation yourself:

• You like your job a lot and you and your family really like the community that you live in, and the fact that your workplace is a short commute from your home, and from your children’s school and from where your spouse works too. All of the key places that you and the members of your immediate family would routinely go to in the course of your day-to-day lives are in fact close by to each other. And you and your spouse and children have friends there and have made this community yours.
• Now suddenly your direct boss at work: your immediate supervisor there, is starting to talk about you’re taking an at least temporary position with this company at a much more distantly located facility. And this new position with the company is being offered without any end point or overall duration included or even mentioned. You have always gotten very high performance scores in your annual reviews. You have always gotten along very well with your colleagues at work and with business clients and others who you have had to deal with there. But suddenly your boss is coming across as pressuring you into making this move – and on the face of it, this is not going to be a promotion per se insofar as it would not give you either a higher level job title, or higher level compensation aside from financial support in the relocation that this would call for and related temporary allowances.
• As just noted, you have liked this job, and the people who you have worked with there seem to like and appreciate, and value you too. So is this a lateral move? Is this a demotion, insofar as agreeing to it would mean you’re losing a lot of the sources of value that you personally see as significant that you have in your constraints box, as discussed in Part 28 and its cited references and as touched upon in the third bullet point here?

An initial and perhaps immediate gut reaction response to this, and particularly as I have proposed it as being offered to you, would be to see this as more of a demotion than anything else. But let me add in one more bullet point to this scenario to at least add context to what I have just related about this proffered job change:

• Your immediate boss there: your direct supervisor at this business does in fact value having you on their team, and very much so. And they are not entirely happy with this turn of events. But their own immediate supervisor: the C level officer in this business who runs the functional area that you both work in, makes a habit of reviewing the performance reviews of the people who their direct reportees supervise: your supervisor included there. They do this as a means of better understanding how these lower level managers who they supervise manage so they can more fully know how effectively they carry out those types of responsibilities. And incidentally, your supervisor’s supervisor also uses this as an opportunity to search out and identify people in their overall department who show real potential and who might be good candidates for career advancement there – with proper professional grooming and training. And one more detail: while this practice is not always followed, it is not uncommon in this business to explicitly give possible candidates for this type of promotion, wider experience in the business as a whole so they can have wider ranging hand-on experience there and better understand how everything there works and fits together.

So is this a lateral move and a perhaps somewhat unfavorable one, or is it a demotion? Or is this a stepping stone career change that if it works out would lead in all probability to a real and very definitive next step promotion? If the last of these possibilities holds real likelihood, and this move succeeds with you’re getting really positive reviews from your supervisor in place at this temporary assignment and from anyone else there who might be turned to for more wide-ranging 360 degree input, then you will find yourself negotiating terms in a promotions and advancement context. And in all likelihood, given the circumstances outlined here, that would mean you’re meeting with and negotiating with people who have already bought into your succeeding and who want to see that happen, and under circumstances where you would be in a stronger position than any outside candidate would be, and certainly for arguing the case for your being offered accommodations for any constraints box requirements from your time at this business up to here, that still hold significant value to you. Or the new possibilities that this type of promotion might open up for you and your family, might mean your arriving at a new and reprioritized constraints box list that would actively support your making new types of changes and even happily so –where that might even include you’re agreeing to a longer term workplace relocation.

• Job changes of the types that I address here, whether promotions, lateral moves, or even demotions can all arise in a business as a means to keeping good people onboard. And yes, that can include demotions and pay cuts and certainly when a business and its owners find themselves forced to take those types of steps during a lean period if they are to survive it. So these events can be and often are complex and certainly for how and why they come up as issues and for how they are carried out.
• And just as importantly, they are often and even usually looked at as here-and-now jobs level events by the people caught up in them. But they are always career level events and they should be thought through in those terms, and at least as carefully as they are for their here-and-now, jobs-of-the-moment impact.

The basic point that I raise here of taking a longer career perspective and certainly when facing impactful change, in fact informs everything that I have offered in this series up to here. And it will continue to inform all that follows in this series too. We work at specific here-and-now jobs but we have to continually keep that and them in perspective too: in a wider and longer-term career-level perspective too.

I am going to offer some further thoughts on Point 5 and its issues in a next series installment, and add in anticipation of that, that this is a place where Plan B considerations of necessity have to enter this overall narrative. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

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