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Appearing ambitious while pursuing ER?
Old 07-23-2015, 08:51 AM   #1
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Appearing ambitious while pursuing ER?

Hello, another post mentioning "at-will" employment being a two way street got me thinking about how best to handle my boss. My goal is to ER sometime before 40. I'm perfectly content with my current position (the compensation will allow me to achieve my goal). So I am really not interested in climbing the ladder and getting more stress/responsibility even if it means more pay. I also believe in the Peter Principle!

So how do you handle conversations about career goals when the plan is a very ER? Being completely honest could be a detriment because my boss may think I don't care about my job. Conversely, claiming to want to be a VP within a few decades could put me on a path of "stretch assignments" and "more responsibility," which I don't want.


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Old 07-23-2015, 09:30 AM   #2
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Be honest about what you want, but I recommend against mentioning ER.

You could ask for more interesting projects or assignments that do not involve responsibilities that you do not wish to have. I made a number of lateral moves in my career and the change of pace/responsibilities/expertise kept it interesting for me.

But first, you need to figure out what you want and don't want. Write it down because it will help you crystalize your thoughts.

All the best.
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Old 07-23-2015, 10:15 AM   #3
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I'm in the same position. I'm happy where I'm at, but my manager keeps talking about promoting me. Most people would jump at that opportunity. My answer has been that I enjoy my work and if a promotion was to change my daily responsibilities, then I'd prefer to stay where I'm at.

I think my manager understands, but also believes that not much would change with a promotion. He might be right.

I suspect that I might get promoted anyways, but the way I look at it, if I get promoted and it becomes unpleasant then I can find another job. Or if the timing is right, ER. The plus side is I'd be making more money, so there's the potential to ER sooner.

So my advice is to focus on what you enjoy and let your manager know that's what you want to work on daily, even if that means staying where you're at. I think that's a concept most people understand and if they don't, then there's probably not much you can do aside from finding another job/manager.
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Old 07-23-2015, 10:42 AM   #4
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Although I would like to ER prior to 40, I also want to see where my career takes me before I take the leap into ER.

I have also thought that it would be nice to just work my position now (which is not that difficult) and not think about climbing the ladder, but on the flip side earning more would enable ER to progress at a faster rate.

My career goal is to hit $100k salary which in accounting would put me at a supervisor or manager level, so I wouldn't have to be a director, VP, etc. I started at $30k a few years back so it is a goal I know I can obtain if I am willing to take it.

What I would not do is inform the boss of my ER plans. Why close the door to potential opportunities? If a promotion is offered to you, consider the merits of it at that time; you can always decline.
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:19 AM   #5
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I would agree that I wouldn't mention ER. You never know what might happen, so there's no reason to let them think of you as not committed for the long term. But in career discussions emphasize that you like your current role and that you thinkk it's a good match for your skills and preferences.
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Old 07-23-2015, 12:16 PM   #6
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I would never say I was burned out or that I planned to ER to an employer. Unless i wanted out real soon. I put off being promoted for many years by just saying how much I enjoyed my current position. It was not until I wanted to get out of SoCal (for kids) that I took a promotion that moved me North. Companies need solid/happy employees at all levels. Keep doing a good job and all should be well.
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Old 07-23-2015, 01:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by walkinwood View Post
Be honest about what you want, but I recommend against mentioning ER.

You could ask for more interesting projects or assignments that do not involve responsibilities that you do not wish to have. I made a number of lateral moves in my career and the change of pace/responsibilities/expertise kept it interesting for me.

But first, you need to figure out what you want and don't want. Write it down because it will help you crystalize your thoughts.

All the best.

Excellent advice...

You can say that the level of work that you do and the responsibilities that you have are where you like them...

You can also say that managing people is not in your wheelhouse and you would rather not go there....
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Old 07-23-2015, 04:19 PM   #8
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Hi Legally_Dead,

First of all, I agree it would be unwise to even hint of your ER thoughts to management or even "friends" at the same company. Folks talk...

Second, what aspects of the j*b are you trying to avoid getting dragged into? Do you want to remain an individual contributor instead of chasing management track?

In my old engineering j*b, a typical dynamic is to drag competent engineers with decent communication skills into the management ranks in their 30's. All these guys moved into management, except for me since I realized it didn't fit my lifestyle and career goals. Half of these guys got canned or pushed back down to individual contributor roles during random political purges. The rest are toughing it out because they need the money and enjoy the perks.

For almost 10 yrs., I successfully fought off attempts to draft me into management, ie give me direct reports & personnel responsibilities. Keep in mind, though, that I became a "dead man walking" although I was very well regarded by the rank-and-file worker bees. With the loss of top level political support, I was informally cut out of mainline projects in my are of expertise and was hazed by a couple of management stooges. The "dream job" work was assigned to folks with 10-20 years less experience, often our replacements in cheap Pacific Rim countries. However, most of this work returned to me as other teams screwed up. I was the politically expendable guy who would clean up someone else's mess.

I applaud your goal to get out quick, but please be aware of the price at w*rk. Freedom is never free, but it is well worth it! Also, I suggest developing any and all interests outside of w*rk (family, friends, hobbies, volunteering, etc) since you will need these soon enough. Good luck!

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Old 07-23-2015, 04:28 PM   #9
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You could always cite family responsibilities and volunteer commitments as reasons why you want to stick with a position that has regular and predictable hours.
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Old 07-23-2015, 04:59 PM   #10
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Hi Legally_Dead,

First of all, I agree it would be unwise to even hint of your ER thoughts to management or even "friends" at the same company. Folks talk...

Second, what aspects of the j*b are you trying to avoid getting dragged into? Do you want to remain an individual contributor instead of chasing management track?

In my old engineering j*b, a typical dynamic is to drag competent engineers with decent communication skills into the management ranks in their 30's. All these guys moved into management, except for me since I realized it didn't fit my lifestyle and career goals. Half of these guys got canned or pushed back down to individual contributor roles during random political purges. The rest are toughing it out because they need the money and enjoy the perks.

For almost 10 yrs., I successfully fought off attempts to draft me into management, ie give me direct reports & personnel responsibilities. Keep in mind, though, that I became a "dead man walking" although I was very well regarded by the rank-and-file worker bees. With the loss of top level political support, I was informally cut out of mainline projects in my are of expertise and was hazed by a couple of management stooges. The "dream job" work was assigned to folks with 10-20 years less experience, often our replacements in cheap Pacific Rim countries. However, most of this work returned to me as other teams screwed up. I was the politically expendable guy who would clean up someone else's mess.

I applaud your goal to get out quick, but please be aware of the price at w*rk. Freedom is never free, but it is well worth it! Also, I suggest developing any and all interests outside of w*rk (family, friends, hobbies, volunteering, etc) since you will need these soon enough. Good luck!

FB


That sounds a bit strange.... most managers would love to have someone who knows what they are doing and not have ambition in taking their job do the work... I know that during my career I was in that position...

I remember one manager coming in and saying they had no idea what I did, but keep up the good work... never bothered me at all..... (note... that job was dictated by legal docs on what I was supposed to do for everything... so it was not like I was making up my own work)...
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:02 PM   #11
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For 3 years at my last job, they kept putting me into lead roles that caused me a great deal of stress. I tried to get my old job back several times but was denied each time, so I finally quit last year and got a new job.

Annnnnd it hasn't even been a year at the new place and they're already talking about how I'd be perfect for a lead role. Hopefully they don't take it the wrong way when I tell them that I'd like to stay in my current position.

Maybe I just need to be less personable or something.
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Old 07-23-2015, 09:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
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....I'm perfectly content with my current position ...... So I am really not interested in climbing the ladder and getting more stress/responsibility even if it means more pay. ....
I think you can say this and it will be honest and not imperil your career. Companies need happy, competent people who keep their heads down and get the job done.
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Old 07-23-2015, 09:48 PM   #13
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I am so very grateful to work for a company that has a separate technical track. You have to self-identify to enter the management track, and you have to take training. Very different than other companies in our industry, where you can walk in one day to find out 1) your boss is gone, and 2) tink-poof, you're the new boss!


(tink is sound the wand makes when it hits you, poof is the magic smoke...)


Yeah, make it clear you're happy doing the particular good work you're already doing, but don't bring up your retirement plans. Kinda sets expectation that might work against you, toward the end...
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Old 07-24-2015, 02:05 AM   #14
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When I started, I had a "picture" in my mind of the perfect j*b. I worked toward that, taking the appropriate university courses and working when possible with the right folks. I got to a spot where I was the go to person for certain issues. As it was quite technical, and I was one of the few who knew the w*rk, I was often in demand. However, there were essentially NO management positions available in that field. That's the way I planned it. I had several in-line promotions which made me a supervisor, but not a management type. I liked the roles I had and stayed until they told me they wanted me to do something completely different. At that point, I politely said "No!" and retired. Having that vision of what I wanted and w*rking toward it was the key for me. Don't know that it can w*rk for everyone since YMMV.
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Old 07-24-2015, 06:37 AM   #15
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My employer tried to draft me into management regularly... I always stated that I preferred to stay on the technical track. Managers didn't really understand that because it meant a much slower promotion(money) timeframe. I was fine with that. When pressed I said I enjoyed my work and had a very good work/life balance and did not want to lose that balance.

Some managers understood, others didn't. I stayed firm.
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Old 07-24-2015, 02:26 PM   #16
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If the company is built around promotions and advancement (most big ones are), find another company as soon as you start getting out of step (in the top half or so age wise for your role).

Otherwise, stay. Mid-sized companies that grow slowly or are steady are your best bet. They love people who are good at their job and keep doing it.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
That sounds a bit strange.... most managers would love to have someone who knows what they are doing and not have ambition in taking their job do the work... I know that during my career I was in that position...

I remember one manager coming in and saying they had no idea what I did, but keep up the good work... never bothered me at all..... (note... that job was dictated by legal docs on what I was supposed to do for everything... so it was not like I was making up my own work)...
Texas Proud,

I agree that all of the lower level, front line managers just wanted "someone who knows what they are doing and not have ambition in taking their job". However, heaven's help you if the VP level and C-suite micromanages the department, typically undercutting your direct boss because they believe they know better. Then no one can protect you, especially when your boss can't even protect himself from the aggressions of stronger departments and political hacks fighting their way up the food chain.

Looks like I'm not alone in avoiding "management track" and hoping/trying for "technical track".
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Old 07-24-2015, 06:05 PM   #18
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I had a youngish employee at the top of the non-management pay range tell that she enjoyed being a subject matter expert, fully responsible for importnant files, and able to leave on time to get to the rowing club. She had no interest in moving into management, but wanted to move around within the government to get different experiences and become better at what she does. (She came to my policy group from an oversight function to learn how policy shops work.)

I totally respected her choice, and was somewhat relieved that I wouldn't have to be worried about trying to groom her for management.

As for me, I took a promotion to do something different for the last two years of my career before ER, and now realize that I don't need two years -I only need one. But I feel I've made a commitment to the organization and to my staff, so I'm sticking around. Nine months to go at the end of this one.
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Old 07-25-2015, 12:11 AM   #19
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I struggled with an honest answer to the "what would you like to do?" questions my boss would ask me. I knew the current job was just an income stream to facilitate FIRE in a few more years, and didn't really care to work extremely hard. Interesting and innovative stuff was more important that climbing the ranks or getting promoted.

So I pretty much feigned enough interest to make it look liked I cared even though I really didn't that much.
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Old 07-25-2015, 12:22 AM   #20
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I always told them what they wanted to hear, how could that be wrong.

My mega-corp also had an unwritten policy of "you can turn down 1 promotion". I did turn down 1 but the next had too many things going for it. Gave me stock options that when the company got on a roll, allowed me to say bye-bye long before I might have thought it possible.

As far as the answer to the question goes, "it's your decision". If it was mine, I might consider lying.
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