When Stepping Down is Stepping Up
Last week I wrote about situations
when people worry about stepping down in their careers.
Unfortunately, their negative mindset can blind them to a unexpected
upside potential. If they review their career options with fresh
eyes, they may find one of the paths below is the way to go.
Making less money can be a
necessary, but temporary, precursor to hitting a financial home
run. A confident, optimistic job seeker may choose a small,
fast-growing organization that offers excellent potential for
increasing compensation. Large bonuses, steeply escalating
salary or an equity position may be worth millions.
For individuals who are expert
deal-makers, straight commission may provide the opportunity for
a substantial raise. Often seasoned sales pros prefer
compensation tied to their production versus a salary or a base
plus commission, which limits their income.
Then there’s the hardy group who
loves to turn around failing organizations. They live for
cleaning up messes, motivating demoralized employees, revamping
product lines, bringing information systems up to date, and
having a dramatic positive effect on the bottom line.
The attraction of battling on behalf
of the underdog can be hard to resist. Our American tradition
motivates people to beat the big guy. Apple didn’t used to be
Many professionals are heading for
smaller, less prestigious companies where they can make a
significant contribution. They like the camaraderie, shared
mission, quick decisions, fast growth, access to the top and
cutting-edge products entrepreneurial organizations can
provide. Gen X and Millennials are especially inclined to
prefer this career path versus joining a large, slow,
organization. Recently, I worked with a top salesman who left a $300,000
position at a Fortune 500 company for lesser income, plus equity
at a small company with great potential. While there were no
guarantees, he thought the firm’s outstanding products coupled
with his sales and marketing skills would mean increased
compensation and personal satisfaction. He was right.
A sea change in the way many
professionals perceive their careers is the subject of a
milestone edition of Fast Company, which focused on the
new corporate entity, Me, Inc. Me Incers believe their futures
depend on themselves. They are experts with a toolbox of skills,
which a variety of organizations will find useful. Have toolbox
Fledgling entrepreneurs think of
their businesses as the ultimate step up. Suddenly they are the
CEO. They can develop their own culture, create new products and
services, hire people they like, make a lot of money and enjoy
the variety, flexibility and quick decision making rarely
available to an employee. And they can do this until they are
Kathy Dawson, a former HRVP, grew a
very successful consulting firm through living its mission, “To
provide world-class human resource consulting services and have
a life.” Her employees and independent contractors joined her
because they wanted a better balance between work and personal
time. They work smarter, not harder, on a schedule that allows
them to attend kid’s soccer games or take off early for a
weekend at the lake.
Others are choosing a shorter
workweek to spend more time as community volunteers, ease into
retirement, take care of their elderly parents, start part-time
businesses or pursue their hobbies. In fact, Jeremy Rifkin says
in his thought-provoking book, The End of Work, that this
trend is changing the face of our economy.
With all of these opportunities, a
step down may be the first step to a new and satisfying career.