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What if you don't want the promotion?

archi_dude

Just curious if anyone has turned down a promotion before? It's not that I don't want the promotion ever but just would prefer to not turn into all those terrible bosses I've had in the past. I.E. over their head and stressed which turns into frustration at the team ect. I'm currently in the scenario where they are letting me "run free" on the new job, translation, doing everything on both the junior position and PM position while getting paid as a junior. I'd rather have a PM for another year or so and actually learn my job before racing off to the next position and be barely treading water again doing long days becuase I dont know what I'm doing. However, a little afraid that it seems if you mention that you dont feel as though you are ready it gets waved off and if you share its becuase youd rather run your career like a marathon than a sprint with work life balance, you are labelled as lazy. Any similar experiences?

 
Sep 14, 20 10:56 am

No experience myself (yet?) but I think the Peter Principle is a real thing and kudos to the people who understand they aren't ready for a promotion and turn it down. 

Sep 14, 20 11:31 am  · 
3  · 
SneakyPete

Be honest about your reasons, but don't couch it in terms that denigrate yourself. You "want to become completely familiar with the skills needed with the role", not you "aren't ready." That sort of thing. If they insist, then I would, if it were me, admit some trepidation. 

Are they asking this of you because of budgetary reasons (underwhelming fee on the project, etc) or lack of PMs available, or are they trying to juice you for more work at a lower pay rate? If any of these are true, they may deny you and you won't have much of a way out. It would also, in my opinion, point to a less than great firm leadership.

I have never experienced what you're asking, but have seen it happen a lot. I have actually experienced the opposite, where I got a job as a higher position than they utilized me for. It's one of the main reasons I feel that pay scale and firm leadership ranks should be decoupled from project responsibilities. Why force your best PA to become a PM in order to advance within firm leadership?

Sep 14, 20 11:54 am  · 
4  · 
square.

this is a huge problem; i really hate the narrow track of upward progress in the architecture profession. i'm really no fan of what actual project management means (i prefer the pa side), but as you say the only way up is to become an overworked, over-stressed pm. not interested at the moment..

Sep 14, 20 1:02 pm  · 
2  · 
archi_dude

Interestingly enough, there is plenty of budget (now I can see these things lol) for both a PM and junior) my main issue is if you want me to do PM stuff i need a junior staff otherwise not only am i getting under paid I'm doing 2x jobs.

Sep 14, 20 1:08 pm  · 
6  · 
SneakyPete

You and I rarely see eye-to-eye, dude, but you seem to have your head screwed on completely straight here. I hope it works out for you.

Sep 14, 20 4:52 pm  · 
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midlander

what's described above is weird and i've never worked in an office that operated that way. PM/PA/Designer were roles, not titles or pay grades. A strong team has seniors and juniors in each of these roles.

Sep 15, 20 10:16 am  · 
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SneakyPete

It's quite common in my experience. We HAVE had different experiences, though.

Sep 15, 20 12:13 pm  · 
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midlander

right. do you see any advantages or reasons for promoting up into pm rather than tracking people into roles but promoting on some combination of seniority and management capabilities?

Sep 16, 20 9:01 am  · 
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SneakyPete

Of course not, but the people that do it must. I would ask you to trust that, while I haven't worked at very many firms, I have not made my statement up from whole cloth and quite a few of the firms I encounter blend their leadership and job roles regarding pecking order. I don't feel like naming names, but they exist, and a couple of them you'd know by reputation, and not solely bad reputations.

Sep 16, 20 11:38 am  · 
1  · 
thisisnotmyname

You are not wrong to turn down a "promotion" of this type.    People that excel at design and technical documentation shouldn't necessarily be pushed into the staffing and financial side of things in the name of "advancement".

Sep 14, 20 12:12 pm  · 
7  · 
JLC-1

be the change you want to see in your office

Sep 14, 20 12:13 pm  · 
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Jay1122

First you should clarify on the firm size, project size.Its really different if it is a small firm vs big firm. Small firm you will likely continue to "run free" as PM even though you may take on more management related tasks. Big firm, they may expect you to transition into pure management and start delegate more technical works to junior people. I personally would not turn down promotion. Promotion is mostly a recognition from your supervisor and a way to reward you to stay at the current firm. If you don't feel certain of some tasks and skills, discuss it with the supervisor and maybe ask for some assistance in that area while you step into the new title. Honestly, you should take it. Your boss will not expect you to suddenly turn into pro manager after you accept promotion. It is just a title and salary raise while expecting you to take more responsibility as you progress.

TL;DR 

Just take it. Do you know how many people are complaining about getting pigeon holed with no growth opportunity.

Sep 14, 20 12:50 pm  · 
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randomised

I once had to take on the responsibilities of my direct superior/supervisor (without the pay of course) due to her burn-out within my first month at a new job...I so wasn’t ready for it but had to make it work somehow. Those were some very stressful months until she returned, but things never got back to normal, as far as I was aware of what normal was. The balance was off and she left. A new director came and her position was divided between the both of us...my responsibilities grew but I also had proper backup and supervision, turned out to be a great learning experience.

Sep 14, 20 12:53 pm  · 
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Aluminate

This type of promotion is often a strategic expense-limiting move by the firm, especially during difficult or uncertain economic times.  An in-house, newly-minted Project Manager typically costs less in salary and benefits, and saves all the search-related and on-boarding costs that come with hiring a new PM from outside.  Sometimes an unstated goal is also to move up one or more lower-level employees into starting PM roles, so that more expensive senior PMs can be laid off if/when it comes to that.  

It sounds like you're already being tossed into the role, so if you turn down an official promotion then you're likely to find yourself doing the PM job anyway, but without the salary and title to go along with it.  If I were you I'd take the promotion, while stressing that you need adequate mentorship while you're learning it.  If you get that, then great.  If you don't, you're not really in a different spot than you already are, except that if/when you decide to leave this firm you're in a better negotiating position with the next firm, based on previous title and salary.

Sep 14, 20 1:01 pm  · 
8  · 
archi_dude

Spot on. Probably the best approach, cheers!

Sep 14, 20 1:10 pm  · 
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Rios

It's always important to show appreciation for a promotion, even if you don't want it. ... In many ways, accepting or declining a promotion is like considering a new job offer. Evaluate the position as you would an entirely new role, and think about how it will fit into your life and career plans.

Sep 14, 20 4:49 pm  · 
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senjohnblutarsky

I didn't have any choice.  I was on a track to end up where I am, but my situation got advanced by a year or so. I've probably grown faster, and more, because I had to, rather than taking the extra time. If I hadn't taken on the role, the company would have had a fairly major disaster to clean up.  They still did, but it wasn't as bad. 

If anyone expects you to be perfect from the outset, they're probably looking at things the wrong way.  

And regarding being swamped, it's not necessarily just that job position.  It's the industry, the clients, the firms, the available staff. Somewhere, someone (you) has to define what you expect out of the position if you're going to occupy it.  You need to have an honest conversation about your expectations and theirs.  I've been clear throughout my employment at this job about my feelings towards overtime, understaffing, and workload.  They're accommodating for me as much as possible.  I try to accommodate in return, when they need some extra help.  There isn't a perfect balance, but it's as good as I can ask for. 

Sep 14, 20 5:14 pm  · 
1  · 
Jay1122

Dude, you need backgrounds to set off your story. We want juicy details.

Sep 14, 20 5:19 pm  · 
1  · 
archanonymous

Seriously, we were expecting backgrounds last week - due to the delay we'll need at least an extra two weeks to get you new plumbing drawings.

Our drafting team are now staffed on other things. Oh and the extra week it'll take to complete the work? We'll send you an add-service for that.

Sep 14, 20 6:58 pm  · 
2  · 
senjohnblutarsky

25-ish person firm. I was set to take over for a retiring PM/Owner, just the PM part. ~7 months before he retired, the head of the architecture department announces he's taking another job. The heir apparent announces he is as well. The former was a surprise, at that time; the latter was not a surprise. That left me as next-in-line. I was preparing for the projects from one PM. I was not preparing for projects from 3 PM's. There were really no other PM's, aside from the CEO, who should really be doing marketing and not managing projects. So, I go from expecting to handle about 10%-20% of the company's project billings, to something closer to 50%. And also handling the staff workload distribution. Luckily, the staff was incredibly cooperative and helpful. They've taken on a lot of the production -side things that I would have been more involved in. This let me do more of the CA and management tasks on our current projects. Right now, it's hindered our marketing ability a bit. Aside from that, it's not the disaster it could have been had I not taken on the job. They would have had to hire someone and try to float for months until that was done.

Sep 15, 20 8:43 am  · 
1  · 
midlander

it's not usually a favorable sign when the owner plans retirement and the next-in-lines all leave. has it all stabilized since then?

Sep 15, 20 10:21 am  · 
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senjohnblutarsky

An owner. There are still three other Owners around. The departures had little to do with retirements.

Sep 15, 20 11:27 am  · 
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Jay1122

I feel like this is a great opportunity for you. If you do it well you will be in line for the partner role next, and then principle. Woohoo, road to success.

Sep 15, 20 11:36 am  · 
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sameolddoctor

Don't be stupid - a promotion without more moolah is not really a promotion.

Sep 14, 20 6:17 pm  · 
3  · 
proto

Sounds like merely amateur motion

Sep 16, 20 10:13 am  · 
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archi_dude

Update. This is probably the most messed up job I've seen in my career, theres plenty of budget for more staff but god forbid we hire anyone and shit is falling through the cracks pretty badly becuase I'm just one person on what is usually a 4 person team sized job. Concerns were brought up to management and were quickly belittled, the job search has begun....but theres no jobs. Two options I've got right now. Work the 16 hour days to still deliver a bare minimum job. Work 9-10hrs and let it burn. I'm taking the let it burn option, after trying to do a 15 hour day yesterday. ugh, I'll be joining people on the lay off thread soon :-(



Oct 2, 20 11:05 am  · 
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lower.case.yao

Burn it to the ground. Firm doesn’t deserve employees like you.

Oct 2, 20 11:16 am  · 
1  · 
gwharton

I turned down a partnership offer once. You can't do that and stick around too long afterward.

Oct 2, 20 11:55 am  · 
2  · 
Non Sequitur

we had someone do that here too... and left immediately afterwards. It was very awkward at first, then lawyers started to get involved.

Oct 2, 20 11:59 am  · 
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Bench

Curious why it would turn that way if it was declined? (Or did you mean the partnership was accepted mutually, and then they left right after)

Oct 2, 20 12:02 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Bench, in my case, it's closer to your 2nd point. I think everyone is still confused, but we've moved on minus the poached staff and attempted poached clients.


Oct 2, 20 12:08 pm  · 
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Bench

Ah - those details thicken the plot. More understandable.

Oct 2, 20 12:18 pm  · 
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proto

Not sure why you can't stick around if you just want to be a worker bee and not be a manager; that seems plausible and no awkwardness. It does limit growth tho. But presumably that's self-inflicted and open-eyed...

Oct 2, 20 12:47 pm  · 
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archanonymous

Someone at my work was offered a principal position but turned it down and stayed in good standing at the office for many more years. I think a good firm would understand.

Oct 2, 20 12:51 pm  · 
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gwharton

You can stick around after turning down a partnership offer, but the relationship is irrevocably changed, and not in good ways. You stop becoming part of their vision of the future of the firm, for one thing. And if it's a smaller office, which in my case it was, it's hard to avoid hurt feelings over it.

Oct 2, 20 1:24 pm  · 
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apscoradiales

If you don't accept it, you will not become a "player".

Better to leave that office and look for another. In the end, however, you will discover that all offices are pretty well the same - same shit, different day.

Start your own company, that's the best thing to do.

Oct 2, 20 2:22 pm  · 
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archi_dude

Sadly I'm coming to the conclusion, government job + side business might be the answer.

Oct 2, 20 4:16 pm  · 
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apscoradiales

I wouldn't work for any government. They stifle creativity as far as architecture is concerned, and they're full of bureaucracy - will want to make you puke in no time. OTOH, one gets all the nice benefits and perks, such as vacations, insurances, pensions, over time pay, trips to seminars or lectures to other cities., maybe even union membership.

Set up your own business - just make sure you are married to a wife who has a nice, secure job as you will depend on her for survival when the jobs are few-and-far-in-between.

Oct 2, 20 5:46 pm  · 
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square.

if this is creativity in architecture, i think we're due for some stifling.

Apr 28, 21 9:24 am  · 
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archi_dude

Not sure if anyone is curious on how this panned out but it's over as of a few weeks ago and is a victory for my mental health. Essentially the project was a giant shitshow, every single day and under the guise of opportunity I was the construction PM with no support staff, no promotion, no raise. Essentially a test to see how hard I'd work for the promotion. I had no idea what I was doing and had no help to turn to even after I expressed to ownership as much. They waived it off and basically said figure it out. So I took the approach of strategic failure. For once in my career I would let things drop. I realized what had gotten me in this predicament was always doing and exceeding beyond expectations for all tasks assigned to me and that there was no pressure to management to change things if I kept making things work.  After 9-10hrs (considered normal easy hours in construction) I'd shut my laptop, drive home, check the emails and answer the critical ones and be done. I let the schedule entirely fall on the super and let it slowly slip. Even if the responses werent what people wanted to hear, I'd make sure to always be responsive to everyone so no one could say I was unresponsive. I then focused on making sure the finances didnt fail so at least we made money. The schedule collapsed the client was pissed but I was working the hours that said I was trying, no one could say they couldn't reach me and we were profitable. I then proceeded to get my biggest raise ever, double my typical bonus and didnt get a promotion but have a manager on my new project so I'm making this better pay check with half the workload and it's awesome. I never see myself pursuing a management role after that experience and hope that I can continue to just be a technician with alot of flexibility and freedom to pursue my own pursuits on my free time. Not quite sure how I'll pull that off but jesus, from what I saw, being in management is not worth the extra 10-20k. After taxes, that's roughly $500 a paycheck to have everything on your shoulders, have people call you angry about delivery, mistakes, money ect. At all hours. No thank you. I guess I'm a loser but working 8 hrs and enjoying my life seems much better than being a "boss"

Apr 27, 21 11:43 am  · 
11  · 
SneakyPete

You know we don't agree on much, but this doesn't make you a loser. Knowing what you want and how much you're willing to work for it is some of the most valuable information out there, and you have access to it. I'd say this is a win.

Apr 27, 21 11:53 am  · 
2  · 
square.

So I took the approach of strategic failure. For once in my career I would let things drop. I realized what had gotten me in this predicament was always doing and exceeding beyond expectations for all tasks assigned to me and that there was no pressure to management to change things if I kept making things work.

i would hardly call this strategic failure- that's how pervasive our obsession with work is, that in your case, something i would call managing expectations, is perceived as a weakness and ultimately a failure. i see no problem with making work work for you, not it always being the other way around. 

Apr 27, 21 11:57 am  · 
3  · 
archi_dude

Exactly Square. The joke I've made to personal contacts is I'm doing the bare minimum. I fully take ownership on my role, never call in sick and if there are issues and I have questions I come with possible solutions but I leave after 8 hrs and take a full lunch now. (This was more standard in arch firms, but construction has an investment banker mentality on work life balance) In our work obsessed society that is
perceived as the bare minimum because gasp! You dont want to progress in your career and you must not have passion for your work.

Apr 27, 21 12:31 pm  · 
3  · 
square.

"passion for work" is just how the boss gets more work out of you for less. i'm proud to consider myself a wage laborer- all of my "passion" goes towards the things outside of work, aka my life.

Apr 27, 21 12:39 pm  · 
3  · 
midlander

congratulations to you for sticking with it and learning some things. the question you should try to ask is how well this met the firm's goals for the project. it seems like they were satisfied with your performance even if you imply you weren't. perhaps management viewed this as a difficult client with an unreasonable schedule which no one could have helped them to meet. the biggest part of management is being strategic about where to apply efforts in work.

Apr 27, 21 5:32 pm  · 
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randomised

congrats on the dude-side sticking up for the archi-side!

Apr 28, 21 4:55 am  · 
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geezertect

Learning when to stop giving a shit is true wisdom.  The longer term question for you will be how much of your future life do you want to spend with these people, since you probably have lost a lot of respect for them.

Apr 28, 21 11:04 am  · 
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