If you had an opportunity to get a promotion, you’d probably go for it. What’s not to like about a better title and more money, right? Well, depending on your current situation and the reality of the promotion in question, you might be better off staying put. How do you know when to stay, and when to go forward?
First of all, make sure it really is going forward. Fortune columnist Anne Fisher once received a question from a salesperson who had been advised by his colleagues to go for a promotion. His actual query was how to make his case. Fisher’s response?
“It’s nice that your colleagues see you as a high-potential kind of guy. It could also be — is my cynicism showing? — that they are just tired of competing directly with you and would like to see you kicked upstairs so they no longer have to. In either case, before you decide whether to shoot for a management job, you’d be smart to take a close look at a couple of key assumptions.”
One is that he’d actually make more money. Fisher turns to executive coach Brian Tracy, who confirms that successful salespeople often make more in commissions than their bosses, who typically receive a flat salary.
Another question to ask is whether or not you’d be good at the job — and enjoy it.
“Top salespeople do not usually make good sales managers,” says Tracy. “I’ve made that jump a couple of times in my career, and it is huge. The two roles are completely different and take very different mindsets. For one thing, salespeople are motivated by individual achievement, while a manager has to be focused on the performance of the group.”
Even in fields where staff work is more closely aligned with management duties, the real question should be whether or not you’d like doing what managers do. If you prefer working on your own, for example, or don’t feel comfortable being in charge, chances are that you won’t enjoy being the boss.
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