- Know who you are and what you want. That’s the key to knowing whether a promotion is a good fit. “Both times,” says Cochran, “I’ve asked myself: ‘What do I really want?’” Cochran likes the variety of his current job and “being the person who helps get things done.” If he were to step into shoes, he’d have to give some of that up.
- Decline diplomatically. Schedule a private, one-on-one conversation with your boss. Then, thank her for the opportunity.
- Couch your decision in a way that shows you’re doing what’s best for you and the organization.
- Leave the door open for future promotions by stressing that your decision is based on circumstances that may change over time. “I told my boss that, to do the job well, I needed some more experience in larger projects,” says Cochran. “I told her that, maybe in two years, I’d be ready.”
- Be clear about your decision, even if it was a painstakingly difficult one. You don’t want to give the impression that you can be persuaded.
- End the conversation by showing that you care about your future with the organization. Let your boss know what sort of role you’d like to grow into or what kinds of projects would bulk up your skill set.
“I learned so much from that,” he says. “It taught me how to do my job better.”
And that’s even better than a promotion, in his book.