Don’t jump so fast for that promotion or raise you’re about to win. Today’s workplace is largely unstable — people get laid off and job hop constantly, and in general, staying anywhere more than five years is a career liability. Your learning curve flattens out so much that you’re not gaining skills fast enough to stay competitive in the field.
In this environment, training is worth more than a promotion or a raise, and in fact, you’d do well to make a trade if someone offers you either. Training is the new currency of the workplace. Here are four reasons why:
1. Promotions are stressful.
When you get offered a promotion, it’s supposed to be a reward for good work. But in fact, most promotions derail you.
Think about it: You’re creating a career path that’s customized to your skills, strengths, and personal goals. How could anyone else create a path that’s right for you? Unfortunately, most companies structure a single corporate ladder and promote people upward whether it’s good for them or not.
In fact, most people do good work and then get promoted into a position they’ve shown no aptitude for. This is most pronounced when, say, a creative person or technical person gets promoted into management. In fact, most promotions are so misguided they’re more stressful than divorce.
2. Raises are negligible.
What do you get in exchange for taking the huge risk of leaving something you’re good at to do something you’re unproven at? What do you get in exchange for derailing your personal plans to follow someone else’s path? A 3 percent raise (on average), or 10 percent if you’re lucky.
Let’s say you get a 10 percent raise. If you’re earning $50,000, that’s $5,000. After taxes it’s around $3,500 — if you even stay in the job for another year. That amount of money won’t change your life, and even if you think it will, consider all the extra hours you’ll be working because you got promoted.
3. Mentors make a real difference.
What will change your life? Mentoring. People who have a mentor are more successful than people who don’t, across the board. For example, people with two mentors are 50 percent more likely to reach their next career goal than people who don’t have mentors.
So one thing you could do is spend less time gunning for that promotion and more time focusing on what you need to do to get a mentor. For example, ask good questions of the people you admire, and spend extra time getting to know people outside of your core group of coworkers.
It would be great if you could take your money from a promotion and buy a mentor, but life doesn’t work like that. (Although you could take the money and hire a career coach.)
4. Training creates stability.
You can trade money for training, though, and that’s what you should do. Your career trajectory and your ability to create a stable income are dependent on your skill set. There’s no job stability in the workplace today, so you have to count on yourself by being very desirable to employers. You do this by getting lots of training, and mentors to guide you on how to use that training.
There’s a huge range of training available today — you can get trained in how to deal with your email, how to connect better to people you speak to, and how to transition from college to adulthood. Have your company pay for this sort of training — it’s the kind that changes your life.
While a promotion actually makes your life more unstable, training creates more stability in your life. And that, rather than more money or a promotion, should be the real reward for performing well in your job.