Is This a Promotion?

The company I am working for is not doing well financially. Although I have worked here for 15 years and am now considered an executive, we are in a round of layoffs. I was just in a meeting with the owners of the company, and they gave me an interesting proposal. They offered me an ownership stake in the company and a raise, in exchange for a demotion of responsibility (down about 2 levels).

I’m unsure how to feel about this. I have taken a vow to myself years ago that my responsibility is to do anything and everything this employer asks of me. I am the first one here every morning, usually about 4-5AM. I work on personal skills and making this company better.

I really don’t have a ‘title’ here because I want to do everything I can so that the CEO can focus outside the company and have zero worries INSIDE the company. To that end, I have gained what I believe is some sort of influence. (I have hired most of the staff, have introduced multiple initiatives, etc.) However, since I don’t have any voting rights, many policies have contributed to the financial struggles of the company which I have disagreed with yet have done my best to overcome regardless.

However now I have been offered phantom equity, a raise, and near an entry-level of responsibility. (Which has been promised is temporary.) A colleague of mine, who is one-step in the organization chart below me, has told ownership he is declining the offer. Should I do the same? Or stay the course and do all I can for the company, since they are happy enough with my performance to give me a raise?


Dear Benjamin,

Business can be baffling but only if we renounce the road map of how the world REALLY works.
That said, your letter does baffle us. The best way we can be of some assistance is by providing you with seven questions to ask yourself and answer. Once you have done so, you will have clarified whether your perception of your role in the company is accurate.

You report that your employer offers to deliver more to you in the form of equity participation plus a salary increase while asking less from you in the form of diminished responsibilities. And this, while the company is not doing well.

Here is our first question: Why?

Our second question is: You are considered an executive by who?

Broadly speaking, an executive is an employee tasked with strategic high-level decision making and helping to shape the company’s overall direction and performance.

You mention that you “really don’t have a title.” We think that a title’s main purpose is to provide a clue to the holder’s role. In other words, what specifically is expected from the title holder in exchange for his or her wages.

Our third question is what is your KPI? (Key performance indicators) What exactly are you responsible for?

Fourth question: You mention that you hired most of the staff. How many of them are your direct line reports?

As you of course know, your employer does not pay you for getting to work early or for working on your personal skills. An employer pays for performance. Question number five is, what do you actually do that contributes to the company’s P & L Statement (profit and loss) between 5am and quitting time most days?

Question six: In what way do you consider that which you have been promised, to be temporary?

Finally, question seven: Has the colleague one step beneath you told you why he is declining the offer from management? Have you asked him?

We are quite certain that if you answer these seven questions, you will yourself know the answer to the question you pose in your last two sentences.

Scratching our heads,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

This Ask the Rabbi is dedicated in memory of Nurit Berger, age 59, who was murdered by Hamas terrorists in her home in Netiv Ha’asara on October 7, 2023. The terrorists threw a grenade inside the Berger home, killing Nurit. The bird-loving Nurit is survived by her husband, four daughters, parents, and sister. Her husband’s brother-in-law was slain the same day.

And with prayers for the safe release of the remaining hostages and among them, Shlomi Ziv, age 40. Shlomi was captured by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023, from the Supernova music festival. His wife received confirmation that he was in Gaza a few weeks after he was kidnapped.

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