Should I accept my promotion and new position in my company?

Hi Ian, can you help me with a question that has been bugging me? I have been offered a new position in my company – a promotion – and with that also a 30% salary increment. The problem is that this means that I will have to step into an area that I don’t really know a lot about and I am afraid that I will have less time with the family than I have now, and I will have to learn a lot more again. This might put me in a position of failure instead of success. That would not look very nice on my boss and me. So, should I accept the promotion?

Troubled Executive

Dear Troubled,

I am not trying to disparage your thoughts and your situation, and we will address your question in a short while; but there was a time when workers were glad for such tidings. Most of us want to be recognized for our efforts and the best recognition will come by way of a promotion. But I realize that a promotion these days may not be viewed in similar vein and we need to ask if it is indeed something that we should accept or not. So, while I am a person who would relish all promotions and rise up to the challenges of the positions that promotions present, I am not here to proselytize my ideals. So let’s apply our strategic thinking process to look at your situation…


Before you make the decision, look at your intent for going to work. Not everyone wants to climb up the corporate ladder and you may have hit your own career limit. If indeed that is your situation, then I would understand your reticence. But also understanding that inflation in Singapore is 4.8% (and it may be more where you are reading this), and that at this rate, it will take 8.64 years to erode your purchasing power by half, you might want to see if there is a way to maintain your purchasing power without having to increase your responsibilities. So what I am ultimately saying is that while you might not want to undertake greater responsibilities, you might have to look for ways to increase your income simply to stay on par with inflation. And knowing that most companies’ salary increments DON’T keep up with inflation, your only way is to accept the promotion. So, your first step to answering this question is to understand what you want to achieve.


Once you have identified your intent, you can then identify what you can do to achieve that. Let’s say, for example, that your career intention is now to maintain your current lifestyle, then the cost of living adjustments need to be in-scaled into your income. Let’s assume further that you are not receiving the minimum inflation adjustments in your salary. Then your options would be:

1. Accept the promotion. By accepting the promotion with the 30% salary increment, you would have staved off inflation for 5.6 years.

2. Negotiate for an in-build ad infinitum salary increment of 5% per year.

3. Find a new company that pays as much as yours is promising now without the concomitant increase in responsibilities


This is where the decision becomes complicated. As constraints are necessary conditions for a successful decision, you need to identify the different constraints operating in your decision. If one of your constraints is to ensure that you come home each day no later than 630pm, then taking up a new responsibility that might need you to work beyond the official end of day time might not work. So work out all your constraints and also see if you can somehow relax your constraints or meet them outside of your decision. These will be important for you to converge on the best decisions.


What if you didn’t need all that money? What if you can do without one or two luxuries without adversely affecting your lifestyle? By looking beyond your current limitations and constraints and allowing a little bit more give, you might be able to accept a solution that you have all this while dismissed. More options are always better than less. At least at this point in our decision-making process.

Balancing options with constraints

Now is the time to converge on the two most promising solutions. Compare each option with the set of constraints you have, identifying the top two.

Deciding on the better of the two options

Take the two options, lay out all your assumptions for each and see which of the two has greater variability. Look also at which has greater risk and what you can do to mitigate them. If not, at least see which you can live with better. That would be your better option. That will then be your solution.

It all depends on what you want

Troubled, I didn’t answer your query directly but I hope I have given you enough thoughts to consider your situation in a more balanced manner. In the end, it all depends on what you want. And that means you must identify your intent clearly and carefully.

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