Monday, August 18, 2008

Further Notes on Pulling the Plug on your erstwhile gainful period of employ

Often people leave for either or both of two main reasons: dissatisfaction and stress. The two are inextricably linked.

However what you really need to ask yourself before pulling the plug is if it is the company or just the position you are in? Or even just a paticular set of circumstances, a situation or something else which is going to blow over. The point being that you can influence your situation and environment more than you may think. Think of your exit point as being rather the rebirth of your career and personal-job-lifestyle balance. An emergence with new found assertiveness in a hail of positivity rather than just a 'phew, Got TFO of there.

One observation i have is that when people are leaving to do something better ( not being fired as in'¨persue new challenges" ) and are not given the so-called gardening leave or get-out-of-jail-free cards, then their effectiveness increases. Basically they focus on what's important to tie up and finalise, what is worth spending effort delegating on, and those internal and external relationships get a new spin of relaxed positivity. What happens is the shit gets dumped off. All company video conferences are mysteriously forgotten. Continual improvement committees are left a seat empty roudn the table. Small, time consuming 'pet acorn' customers are ignored. Large,low margin customers get the bare service vaneer they actually earn! So the reasons for a the rise in effectivity are clear- but why didn't you put some of these into place before you resigned?

In considering a move it is worth preparing long in advance. Dissatisfaction comes from either having too much work, or the wrong type of work tasks or actually not earning enough because your work tasks and position are not "percieved" to be of high enough value to warrant a bigger salary. So there is a clear first asseriveness tool for the would be resignee. List out what you do want to do, what you don't, and what you know has money or prestige on it: usually this is obvious financially, but for other tasks you need to be cunning.

The key to success in big companies and small is understanding that you have to suck up more than you dump on people UNTIL you are in a position where you need to dump on everyone. Being assertive means not being a little doubting thomas or wet-blanket (like I have been often myself when less than enthusiastically recieving a delegated 'dump'.) A reasonable task to get dumped on you is a reasonable task if you have the time to do it and the person you do it for is able to help you in your current position- Excepting ambushes where a prick/bitch sucks/feltches your own boss or internal customer into getting the task done and sits you in a meeting to force you to do it. (this is an assertiveness rant paragraph) Once you get your head around the feeding chain and where you are EXPECTED to behave on it's links , and that you get paid to do something less tedious than play with the kids all day, you should think a little more positively.

But often there is a frustration between where you are and where you want to be or unfortunetly where you expected to be given either a vague job description, false promises or plain old self-delusion. In your career you have to be very clear on WHERE you want to be next, ( even if that is just continuing on, a bit irrelevant to this? no actually, no) Once you are clear on where you want to be long term so can you begin to chart out the dots to then fill in with your career line.

Being realistic ? Set a goal you can see yourself acheiving in light of your personal life and nothing much more. You want to be a MD? Burn to ride the tour-de france? You are only morally grounded in what you owe your family and loved ones. If 14 hour days are not in your happy daily life with the kids, then forget CEO of a wall street listed company.

So start with Gap analysis- your own little situation and status now, a SWOT, and the goals / measures which define or ar demanded of the future 'dream job'. This is how atheletes achieve, they measure their current performance and have not just blind ambition- they set a long term goal, get coaching and break down tasks into daily routines, then new challenges, preparing for events, competing, working their way up the ladder. The trick is in moving out of the comfort zone and taking the first step. It can be a real leap of faith and that belief is in your self. Often the lever in achieving the very first step is to threaten to leave or at least open discussions on dissatisfactions or better, positive personal development to the betterment of your performance.

Knowing where you are is have the battle if not more, won! Working yourself into a position of indispensibility as a key bargaining position is another approach rather than just plain sacking yourself.

I had a coworker who was a business analyst. Basically a laid back former blue collar guy who was street smart. He kept a low but freindly profile. He was advanced if not expert in excel, but that is more than any boss over the age of 45 is. So he could run rings around them and make a fairly simple task out of complex 'slicing and dicing' and do it quickly. ( slicing and dicing montly reports was high need for bosses BTW) He found new means of doing things quicker and getting IT to deliver cleaner data but only so far that his own little manual operations remained integral and in a black box twixt the geeks and the suits. He had worked his way up to a little niche and reached the dissy heights of BA, better paid than me for half the work load and half the brain power!

So this is to exmplify that a "must have" information need can actually lead to a higher percieved value of your work and developments. A good IT manager could have put our man Jim out of existance in short order but he did his little magic niche and became indespensible.

The other issue is that in many positions reporting to white collar management you are higher value in leaving than you were at your desk. Just like posthumous record sales, you can be worth more in your mnetaphorical coffin particularily if you have gardening leave as company security policy (your personal items will be returned to you at security!) Why??

I had another coworker by the name of Dr. Klenka, seriously that was his name, and this bouncing Czech as he was known became a grand master of getting ever higher salaries. He managed to more than double his salary and move positions seemlessly as if being promoted magically by outstanding information. He just threatened to leave all the time. What he was able to exaggerat was the loss of a highly qualified person. Whether or not he was wily enough to time this around stress points at management I don't know. But he played on the modern-man-managers weak points: 1) retention of staff targets 2) development of internal staff / internal sourcing. These are both two little figures which lead to sweat on the brow if a departmental manager has had the dick out the trousers on this. That is to say it is no problem what so ever until it is a problem and sticks out. So like hitting a gofer with a hammer he nails two goals with one swoop.

Your strategy in choosing this path has to include a back up plan. In fact you should have a back up plan as soon as you get the deep urge to get up an leave before you take any visible, audible or even psychic action to resign!


okay we have discussed around nice ways of coming out shining by either threatening to leave or asserting what tasks and position is of most mutual benefit to both parties. What if, as in my last blogg, the situation is truly one of intolerable cruelty? Is your treatment really actually outside that which you expect? Agrression and sarcasm, social exclusion, domineering micromanagement ? Talk with your freinds and don't stick out one of these situatons very long. Maybe you are the source of anger, stress and resentment in others. This may be a severe personality flaw or mental illness or actually just that a couple of key colleague relationships are chalk and cheese, cats and dogs. It just is square pegs and round holes, you are just a catalyst for their bad behaviour but the focus can be placed on YOUR behaviour. This tends to happen when very extrovert personalities work with stable, quiet, controlling types or the reverse. Opposites do not often attract in the work place- hence IT are geeks , marketing luvvies and accounts are the way they mostly just are- dull and flocking.

Is there a definable boundary for when a situation is serious enough to just GTFO?

# inability to switch off at home
# disturbed sleep or appetite
# palpitations
# heighten anxiety or even panic attacks
# loss of concentration and ability to perform tasks proficiently as before
# dizzyness, tiredness which is a danger in driving, operating machinery etc
# stomach or chest pains and distrubed bowel movements
# high aggression from you to coworkers and others outside work

If you have two or more of the above and you work in a small concern with no real touchy-feely atmosfere and no personnel division to cosset you then plan to GTFO.


I think it starts with maybe the majority of people being either B mennesker or A people who would rather not conform to any time table. Anyway for most people in the west the daily commute gets the various stress chemicals going. THen the very act of coming in the doors of the orroffice can get the blood pressure up. Like pavlov's dogs we fall victim to subconscious conditioning. In fact we get completely and utterly masochistically addicted to this state of stress. It becomes not only a 'natural' daily reaction to our environment but also the norm, the safe, the to be protected. Moving away from a status which makes us eventually very ill is positively resisted. Like some kind of magnet from our inner deamons we carry on carrying on.

So be aware. That clinging, sinking feeling you get when your conscious left hemispered personna tries to take control and resign (plan first now!) has to be conquered otherwise you will continue in a stressful situation without probably realising anything of your at least nine-to-five potential.

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