Have you ever met somebody who is really good at their job and blissfully content to keep doing that job? Have you wondered how it could be that they are not ambitious and don't want to move up the ladder? I would dare to say that it's a great thing to have resources who are content holding the plug in the wall.
When an organisation approaches an individual to offer him/her a job, in most cases it does so after carefully analysing available candidates. The person chosen is usually the one the manager or the leader deems most competent for the job in terms of skills and abilities.
But, usually, the organisation pays little attention to the two other dimensions of fitment -- will the candidate enjoy the job, and will he/she be proud of working in that role? A person's capacity to do the job well is all that counts. If the person does not feel good or proud of the role, then they may say no, but that is not necessarily the case.
Typically, when organisations make their decision and offer someone the promotion or the job, that person is no longer simply a candidate for that job; the organisation has made a statement that the candidate is the best person available. To refuse is to deny the organisation what it wants. Of course, the candidate is free to say no on emotional grounds, but do they really have a choice unless a better offer is guaranteed elsewhere? My gut says absolutely no....
Organisations often adopt a marketing and hard-selling approach that manifests itself in a variety of ways. The rewards, expansion of networks and incentives are expressively described, the fact that this is a "unique opportunity" is stressed, and the argument that "this will be good for your career" is emphasised.
If the individual points out that they may lack some of the necessary skills for the job, the organisation is likely to say that this is "a great opportunity to develop such skills." At the end of the process, the management exerts the ultimate pressure. It makes it clear that a choice has to be made quickly, that an answer is expected soon as decisions need to be made. If learning to ask for sufficient time to think over accepting a job is difficult, learning to say no is even more difficult.
There are two sides to the coin. Individuals should exercise caution so that they are not blinded by ambition to the emotional aspects of fit. Organisations should be aware that while fostering ambition can be constructive, they must guard against channelling it into a single career path.
What organisations ideally need are a few ambitious and talented high achievers (who fit with their jobs) and a majority of balanced, less ambitious but dedicated, conscientious people more interested in doing a good job that they enjoy. A combination of such workers makes for a well-performing team.
Here's hoping to see you make the right career choices...