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Dr John Hawkins

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Promotion Announcement

Posted on 2011/05/15 20:26:07 (May 2011).

[Wednesday 11th May 2011]
Caution: some very self indulgent rambling contained herein. You have been warned.

The official announcements for this round of promotions at work happened this afternoon. Promotions at my company do not have anything to do with moving into management, they've very wisely come up with a structure which does not fall foul of the Peter Principle. I "lead" a team, and have for some time now, but I'm not a manager - I don't have any idea what the other people on my team are paid, for example. Given that salary adjustments can happen completely independently of promotions, it's not really clear what a promotion even means - the nature of my job effectively won't change, and there might be a salary adjustment at some point, but nobody seems to know if, when or how much (not that I'm complaining, mind!). It means technically a different job title - although in practice no-one really uses those for anything on a day to day basis (and besides they've chosen an odd title at this level which doesn't actually sound any more senior than the previous title).

So, a bit of an odd feeling today really - I'd been striving to get this promotion for some time now, and it's only really now that I've got it that I've actually started to wonder what the actual point of it is. That's not to say I'm not proud of the work I've done in that period of time (particularly in the last year) but a lot of mental energy has gone into fretting over whether or not I'll get promoted which in hindsight seems like a bit of a waste.

I guess partly I'm still not completely out of the mindset of having to have some kind of achievement to work towards. From the age of 14 education conditions you to continually have some kind of goalpost to aim for - a situation I managed to drag out until I was 28, when I finally submitted that bloody PhD thesis, by which point I had spent half of my life working towards some qualification or other. I suppose after that academic achievements were replaced with getting jobs - and both my current and previous employer had interview processes as gruelling as the hardest exams I've sat for - if not more so... but I've now been in my current job for almost four and a half years, and having no particular intention to go and work anywhere else, it has naturally become a bit of a plateau. The promotion has been a bit of a substitute for another one of those qualifications I suppose, and consequently my ill-at-ease feeling this week is probably at least partly down to suddenly finding myself without a clear sense of what I'm aiming for now.

Apologies for anyone who has perservered through this drivel to this point - but I think it's actually been helpful to me to reason my way through that. I suppose the answer is that at some point you have to stop accumulating qualifications and actually start doing something practical with them - and I'd like to think that's a transition I made some number of years ago, but somehow didn't completely realise until now. So, like I say, even if the promotion itself was a bit of an anti-climax, I'm proud of the work I did that earned me the promotion - from now on I just need to look on that as the real achievement - and not sit around waiting for someone to pat me on the back.

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