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Thursday, June 26, 2008

When to Talk to Your Manager About Quitting

As you have read the posts so far, the topics of raises, promotions, and quitting (in general) have been covered. This post covers that gray area/time when you aren't sure whether you are going to stay or what to quit your current job.

Honesty is the best policy, but there is always discretion. If you are thinking about quiting, you better some darn good reasons and an escape plan prepared. Similar to asking for a raise or promotion, you need to clearly understand and communicate why it is that you are considering this fairly drastic change. It may be simple, such as you and your spouse are moving, or retiring. It may also be complex, where the topics are difficult to discuss. In either case, be honest, factual, but use discretion when necessary. As always, don't let your emotions get the better of you!

Before going in, you need to ask the following questions:

1. Have I talked about these issues or concerns previously, and had a plan to resolve them?

2. Are these issue quantifiable, factual, or emotional (job satisfaction)?

3. Have I done everything possible to resolve these issues, such as speaking with HR, peers, or mentors?

4. What are the minimum requirements for satisfaction? Are those realistic?

5. What is the final straw?

If you can successfully answer these questions, it is time to make an appointment with your manager and discuss them. Hopefully, your manager is aware of the issues and has been working behind the scenes on your behalf. Hopefully, you have been willing to be part of the solution and willing to compromise. This is going to be difficult, but it may reap great rewards.

To borrow a principle from Stephen R. Covey, be willing to accept that you may not be able to solve one or all of the problems at one time. By leaving that option open, you may have given your manager the leeway or time necessary to "make something happen." You may find when the stress of resolution is gone, new possibilities open up.

What happens when you have followed all of this advice and you just can't take it any more? Read my post called "The Graceful Exit."

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Graceful Exit

In previous articles, I wrote about seeking a raise and a promotion. So what happens when the situation at work become untenable? The answer may be to leave. Making the decision may be easy, but taking the decision can be very difficult.

In my experience and that of conventional wisdom, is that finding a new job is easier when you have a job. If you believe that quitting is in your future, start looking now while you have a steady paycheck and benefits. Additionally, while looking for a new job, you may discover that what you are really interested in can be found in a different division of your existing company.

Assuming that you have decided to leave and have accepted the offer for your next job, what do you do next? The answer, negotiate your exit. In some cases, you might have an educational reimbursement payment outstanding, or just have several days of vacation left over. What you should consider is that your leaving the company may benefit the company, so why not share in that benefit? Ask that your reimbursement debt be forgiven, or that you receive a payout of some or all of your remaining vacation. Be creative, maybe you just want your cell phone bill paid until the end of the year.

Once you have negotiated your exit, tie off all of your business loose ends, clean your work area, and say your polite goodbyes. It is also helpful to pass along your LinkedIn profile, as well as your gmail account. This is a small world and you will likely meet your colleagues again in different venues, it is best to do it on good terms.

Following the theme of leaving on good terms, the exit interview is not your soapbox to sound off on every bad corporate decision ever made, or how your boss is a jerk, or that Marketing can't find its way out of a paper bag. Rather, a simple and honest answer such as, "I wanted to explore new opportunities" satisfies the requirement of why you are leaving. Leave with dignity and pride, but also smile at the road ahead.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Has this Ever Happened to You??

Talking to your manager about things can be very stressful, and reading about them can be even more stressful.

To relieve you of hours of reading, I have embedded a video clip to help make this blog more enjoyable as well as to use different parts of the brain to consume knowledge.


Friday, June 13, 2008

How to Ask for a Promotion

Asking for a promotion is very similar to asking for a raise. It requires a compelling, fact-based case on why you deserve more responsibility and compensation. What makes a promotion different from a raise is that involves not just compensation components, but also organizational changes, which can be the tip of the iceberg. However, the most common reason one doesn't get a promotion is that it isn't earned.

A promotion can be defined as an increase in responsibility with a corresponding change in title and compensation. In many cases, the promotion is the next step in the chosen career path, or it may be move into a more responsible position in a different career path. Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

The word most inappropriately associated with promotion is "deserve." One often hears, "I deserve that promotion." Really? Doubtful. Companies, particularly public companies, exist for the improved wellbeing of the owners(shareholders). The only thing employees are entitled too is fair treatment as defined by law. Does that mean employers have the right to treat employees badly? Absolutely not. To attract and retain talent, employers must provide above the minimum. Try RingCentral Fax FREE for 30 days

Unfortunately, in modern American culture, there exists an entitlement mentality. While working hard and "paying your dues" are good things, they are expected! To earn a promotion, one has to demonstrate capacity above expectation. So what does that mean?

Performing above expectation is not only meeting all targets and goals in a timely manner, but showing the initiative to do more. It is also exceeding targets and goals and adding to company's value.

If one can seriously and honestly consider the points above, and still think you should get a promotion, then go for it! Put together a fact-based presentation, schedule a meeting, and put it on the table. Don't be surprised if the answer is "no" or "not now," as the organization might require change, and that isn't taken lightly (or shouldn't be!).

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

How to Ask for a Raise

So, you have been working hard and think you deserve a raise. How do you ask for that raise? The best way is to have your facts in order. While you work and meet your deadlines, there are other things to consider.

The first consideration is how long you have been in your current job. Unless you have a previous agreement or have been really blowing it out of the water, don't expect a raise (other than annual adjustment) in the first year of the position. Generally, when companies are putting together annual budgets, salaries are a major component. Most create a small cushion for raises, but the key word is small.

The second consideration is how you are performing in comparison with people of the same pay grade or title, or comparable position. Are you really outperforming peers? Often that is hard to judge, as you are probably spending most of your time focused on your responsibilities, and not those of others. What you have to highlight are your achievements and how you are exceeding the expectations of your position.

The third consideration is whether a promotion is a better alternative to just a raise. As stated above, if you well exceeding your current responsibilities, maybe its time to move up. However, moving up may require more education, training, or experience, so it can be tricky.

Finally, you have to consider the business climate. Is the company doing well? Is it meeting its financial targets? Have you read the balance sheet, income statement, or statement of cash flows. If you haven't, you should. If you don't know how, learn!

Once you have these facts together and you can prove a strong case, ask to meet with your manager. Present the data clearly and succinctly. You may want to have a slide or two. Also, be prepared for the answer to be "No" or "Not at this time." In either case, ask for a specific date in the future to readdress the issue. Follow up with a thank you note confirming the date to readdress the issue.

Getting a raise can be very challenging. There is significant emotional risk involved as you may get rejected. If you are prepared with facts and prepared for either outcome, this difficult event can be just that much easier.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How Do I Approach My Manager with a Concern?

Often I am asked, "How do I approach my manager with a concern?" In most cases, the concern itself isn't as important as the approach and discussion.

As mentioned in the preceding post, "Manager Q and A," clear and honest communication is the answer.

Let's take an example I encountered recently. A friend mentioned that she had been informed that her direct report would report to a different boss, though my friend would act as direct's lead. My friend had been hired as a manager and was concerned this change of responsibility was a demotion.

My advice was to ask her boss to clearly explain the situation, commenting specifically on whether corporate conditions were behind this change or whether this was performance related. I also advised my friend, that if this was an issue of corporate conditions, to be willing to accept the change, though have her management commit to a review in a defined period of time. Further, I informed her to follow up the meeting with an email outlining the discussion as well as the commitment for the review.

Often times, business conditions and decisions beyond our own sphere of activity impact our work. We can either accept these temporary conditions or we can seek new opportunities in or out of the company. The decision to move should not be taken lightly, though it may offer an opportunity for much needed change.

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