Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

How to ask for a voluntary demotion

Bringing up a voluntary demotion can be a sensitive issue. Some workplace cultures do not tolerate the idea that an employee has lost ambition. But there are a few scenarios in which it makes sense. Years of relentless climbing on the career ladder can take a toll. Some people fear the stress and related health effects. In extreme cases, career goals hurt family relationships. In other cases, senior workers seek the safe haven of a demotion to ward off a layoff or termination.

Review your employee handbook or collective bargaining agreement. Your company might have a policy designed to handle requests for demotion, including salary issues and the procedure you will have to go through to achieve your goal.

Conduct an audit of your goals. If you've been promoted, and there are some things you like about your job and some things you don't, assess where your strengths and weaknesses are. Review your career goals, your financial goals and your work-life balance. Think strategically. When you are demoted, one of your former subordinates could rise to be your supervisor. Think about how you will manage this relationship and whether you might have to move to another company.

Discuss the move with a trusted supervisor. Explain the reasons you are seeking demotion. Discuss your concerns about your current job and your new job. Be gracious and do not denigrate the job performance of anyone, but present a positive picture about your request. If you work in an office that prizes ambition (and the long workweeks that come with relentless corporate climbing), be wary of showing weakness. Explain the move in positive terms, as an attempt to focus on your strength.

Negotiate. Before formalising your demotion, negotiate your role, your salary and your job duties.

Follow your company policies. In all likelihood, you will have to write a formal letter requesting demotion. Companies do this to provide proof that the demotion was indeed voluntary. It's a move that could prevent a future lawsuit.