How to Transition to a Demotion

by Lisa McQuerrey

A job demotion can be temporary or permanent. It can occur as a form of punishment, a budgetary move or even as a result of a request by an employee who wants to cut back hours and responsibilities. Transitioning into a lower status position can be a challenge. Doing so requires a period of adjustment, both for the employee and for her colleagues and managers.

Punishment Demotion

If you're demoted as a form of reprimand, you'll have to deal with the factors that led to the transition to ensure you're successful in your new position. This is especially important if the demotion was related to poor performance. Ask your supervisor to help you set appropriate goals for your new job. Commit yourself to integrating yourself into the role and taking your responsibilities seriously. Ask for additional training if you feel you need to hone your skills in a particular area. Work to create a cordial relationship with the individual who takes over your previous position and make every effort to be part of team initiatives. Resist the urge to show resentment, which can further damage your reputation.

Budget Demotion

If your company is downsizing, cutting back and laying off employees, your job might become redundant and get eliminated. If the company offers to retain you in a lesser role, and you accept, your everyday work environment is likely to change drastically. The transition will probably involve a number of staffers adjusting to new roles and responsibilities. Approach this as you would the start of any new job. Get familiar with your new responsibilities. Ask your supervisor what tools and skills you will need to succeed and work to attain them. Request a new written job description to ensure you understand what's expected of you.

Voluntary Demotion

If you work in a high-profile, stressful or time-consuming management position and want to cut back on your workload, you can ask your boss for a voluntary demotion to a position with less responsibility. While this type of move can create more flexibility and personal time in your schedule, it can be a challenge to transition, particularly if you're moving from a supervisory role to a subordinate role. You’ll have to get used to reporting to a superior, and staffers will have to get used to viewing you as a colleague rather than an authority figure. Take the lead by being a good team player and not usurping your new superior’s power. If staffers come to you with management-type queries, refer them to the appropriate decision maker rather than trying to handle them yourself.

Salary and Authority Adjustment

A demotion typically comes with a reduction in salary, benefits and upper echelon perks. Ask your human resources representative to explain the details of the compensation package that comes with your new role. This will help you budget your money and make necessary life changes. It will also prevent you from embarrassing yourself, like attempting to use a company credit card you're no longer authorized to use.

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