Categories
Work

My Boss Quit

A couple weeks ago my boss, who is part the executive team at my company, told he he quit.

Good for him.

He’s been screwed over by the company too many times and his career hit a brick wall. He is leaving for a better position (and presumably better pay).

His departure creates a vacuum for my department. That vacuum attracts all sorts of people vying for power. But it also raises the question for me, as one of his natural successors: do I go for his job?

Of course, this assumes the company doesn’t restructure my boss’s position away to save money. We could all just get haphazardly lumped into another group. After all, budgets are under huge pressure so getting replacement headcount is very difficult.

But let’s imagine his position is made available.

Before simply applying I have to know if I really want his position. I’ve risen in the ranks enough to have a good-enough income and a great balance between strategy and execution. I’ll be honest…I’m comfortable. Ten years ago I wanted to aggressively increase my income. Today I’m more interested in writing, family, health and becoming financially independent than climbing the corporate ladder. I’d rather build alternate sources of income (which I’m doing) than double-down on my current source.

Besides, do I really want to be even less in touch with the day-to-day action and more involved with corporate bureaucracy?

The higher you go the more you need to align with the corporate propaganda, which I already find sickening. Is it worth selling your soul for a better title and slightly better paycheque.

People who are promoted tend to get less money than those who move to other companies. Most employers are cheap. They think they’re doing you a huge favour by promoting you, which they use as justification for a weak raise.

Moreover, you must consider the after tax impact of whatever pitiful raise you get. Often, if you break it down it might come down to an extra $50-100 per week in your pocket. For many, that wouldn’t be worth the extra work and stress.

A pay raise on its own – regardless of how insignificant – might still sound enticing. Why not just take the extra money?

In reality, there’s more to the decision than just money. The new position will come with huge expectations and uncertainties. You are selling your time, comfort and health for additional money that might not really make a difference to your life.

Of course, many just chase the titles. If that’s your bag then all the power to you. But if you have a life outside of work, then you need to look at the full picture.

If I don’t apply for my boss’s old position, others will. That opens up a whole other set of issues. A new person will want to make their own imprint and might try to fix things that don’t need fixing for the sake of ‘making a difference’. Do I really want to report to someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing?

A new boss from outside the company would also come with a new set of pressures. He or she would need to live up to high expectations, meaning the people reporting to him must follow suit. So regardless of whether I take the job or not, the pressure will be on.

Alternatively, perhaps a more familiar face – one of my colleagues for example – gets the job. If this happened, the pressure wouldn’t be as intense as if an outsider took the role. But how will it feel to report to someone who was once my equal? Indeed, there’s the possibility that I would report to someone who reported to me three years ago. That admittedly would be a big hit to my ego.

I have to remove emotions from the decision. I care about money, return on effort, intellectual stimulation, freedom and balance. I don’t care about titles, personal empires or corporate politics. I just want my highly specialized team and I to support the business the best we can.

This is not a decision to take lightly. Either I go for it or I don’t. Rejecting an offer on the table from your employer is a career limiting move. If I reject them, they will never make another offer to me again. If I apply for the role, I have to be prepared to accept it if offered. If I have conditions (e.g. pay), I have to be clear on day one what they are.

Even if I don’t apply, if they offer the role to me it is a potentially limiting move (although less so) to turn it down. To do so would require explanation, and I can’t think of any honest explanation that wouldn’t come across as apathetic or disengaged.

I’m still working through my thought process, but I think if they offered me the role I’d take it. I would do my best to maintain my current work-life balance and I’d craft the position into something I’d enjoy. Importantly, I wouldn’t lose sight of my ultimate goal to create lasting wealth and financial independence.

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Categories
Wealth Work

Your Pay Just Got Cut: Now What?

Your boss just told you and your colleagues that you’re all getting 30% pay cuts.

What do you do? How do you react?

First of all, look at it from your company’s perspective. This was probably the better of two shitty choices.

If the company needs to slash costs in a recessionary environment it has few options and little time to make those choices. Often, an impending debt payment puts a hard deadline on the need for cash. Missing a debt repayment risks the life of the entire company.

A pay cut doesn’t mean you’re getting screwed.

Often, one of the easiest ways to free up cash is to cut salary expenses. To do this, a company can either cut headcount or reduce pay per worker.

While a 30% pay cut feels like you’re getting the shaft, it is actually a sign your boss is trying to save jobs.

It might work, it might not. But either way, keeping your job during the Covid-19 recession should be top priority. A steady paycheque keeps you solvent and it buys you time to build up emergency savings. It also buys you time to build skills, network and prepare for the possibility of eventual unemployment.

Longer job tenure means a bigger severance if laid off.

Another big upside to keeping your job is you retain tenure. A longer tenure means more severance if you are eventually laid off.

In good times, a 30% pay cut would send you immediately searching for another job. But in bad times, that would be a risky strategy. This is not the time to let pride drive decisions. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you still need an income to pay your bills and feed your family.

Quitting for a new job is risky because it means your tenure resets to zero. A company can have the best of intentions when hiring, but changing circumstances could force them into cutting staff (or salaries). Who gets cut first? The new guy – because it costs the company nothing in severance. A recession is not the time to walk away from job tenure.

A 30% paycut is usually temporary.

As the economy eventually normalizes, salaries should be returned to their previous level. If this doesn’t happen, then consider your options. But it could take 2 or more years until the labour market is strong enough to give labour a fighting chance. Until then, it’s a buyers’ market.

Job seekers today are competing against millions of other job seekers for jobs that don’t exist. This is not a labour market you voluntarily enter. So accept that 30% paycut, as painful as it is, because the alternative could be a lot worse.

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Categories
Work

How to Not Get Fired While Working from Home

Day 40.

I still have a day job. None of my colleagues or staff have been laid off.

We’re the lucky ones. Even if you hate your job, be thankful for your paycheque.

Right now there’s an unspoken expectation that as long as everyone holds on tight things will go back to normal in a couple months. Back to daily coffee trips with the team. Back to conferences and staff meetings. Back to lunch in the foodcourt.

But I don’t think we’ll get back to normal. At least not anytime soon.

I know some of you would love to get packaged out of your job but – unless you’re set for retirement – now is not the time. You don’t want to enter a job market with a 30% unemployment rate. While you might be a rare unicorn, you also don’t want to start a business when 50% of existing small businesses are collapsing. Hey, if it came to it I’m sure you could make it work. But it would be more ideal to enter this situation after the economic shit-storm has passed.

Those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home might find ourselves in this predicament for much longer than originally expected.That means we need to virtually manage our careers.

The best case scenario for a vaccine is roughly 12-18 months. The reality is that vaccines for many viruses are extremely difficult to produce. For instance, in the mid-1980s some researchers thought they’d have an HIV vaccine within a couple years. No dice. It is possible that the hope for a vaccine is false, leaving treatment and social distancing as our remaining defences.

We can manage through this, but life might need to change for a while. Those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home might find ourselves in this predicament for much longer than originally expected. That means we need to virtually manage our careers.

It’s very easy to slip into the darkness when working from home.

While you might keep in regular contact with your primary network – your boss, your staff – people in your secondary network no longer run into you in hallways, meetings or elevators.

If you’re not great at spontaneous small talk, this is your time to shine.

Your secondary network includes people who have an indirect influence on your success or failure at an organization. They may be senior leaders or people in other teams. While in the office you might never really need to work with these people, they are reminded of your presence because of serendipitous encounters. These encounters are neither planned nor necessary, but they help to shape your personal brand in the office. That 30 second conversation in the elevator creates a lasting impression. We lose that when working from home.

If you’re not great at spontaneous small talk, this is your time to shine. With everyone stuck at home, we now must pre-plan and manufacture those serendipitous encounters. Very few do this, so it is a fairly easy way to stand out from the crowd.

It can be a challenge because it might feel forced. Personally, I think people say this because they don’t want to look like they’re trying too hard. This is where the art of relevance comes in. To manufacture serendipitous encounters, you need to create relevance. You don’t simply email the CEO to ask a random question.

Instead, here are some quarantine-friendly ideas for building your personal brand within your primary and secondary networks without coming across as a blatant ass-kisser:

Ask questions during conference calls.

Make sure people know you’re on the call and still work at the company by asking questions. Usually you know the agenda in advance so you can prepare a few before the call. Try not to sound stupid or like a shit-stirrer. Try to make your questions additive to the conversation.

You never know who might be on these calls. Imagine your next boss is on the call and you want to make a good impression. You do this by appearing engaged in the content and interested in using it to further the business.

Take initiative.

After a while of #quarantinelife, it’s easy to sit on your ass and wait for emailed requests to come in. Some eventually do, but as visibility fades and many of your colleagues disappear into the darkness new requests can slow to a trickle.

Use this to your advantage. Lead, don’t wait. Big or small, think of new tasks and projects and propose them to your boss(es). Better yet, think of an initiative that would benefit people in your secondary network and propose it to them.

Even if your ideas don’t all get executed, your initiative demonstrates that you’re not just sitting at home or in the park twiddling your thumbs. Show people that you can drive the business forward no matter where you are.

Book calls.

As unnecessary as many conference calls seem, they are a way of communicating “hey, I’m still here”. Participating in calls is one thing, but setting up calls makes people think you’re a mover and shaker. I know it’s bullshit, but corporate drones tend to believe meetings = progress. While in the regular face-to-face environment you can get away without setting up useless meetings, when working remotely you might have to suck it up and join the party.

Send updates.

Gone are the days of someone casually passing by your desk to see where something is at. Many will forget what you’re doing, some can’t be bothered to email you. Like I mentioned previously, others will have faded into the background and simply stopped caring.

If you want to remain relevant in this environment, let people know what you’re doing. Send updates to those who might be interested – your boss, stakeholders, clients, whoever. And when a task or project is completed stand on the rooftops and tell everyone about your amazing success. Yeah, many people don’t care a shit what you’re working on, but you’ll create the impression that you’re a producer. Indirectly, you’ll also be feeding your boss soundbites to use in his/her updates with his boss. Remember, there’s always a bigger fish.

Create solutions.

The new work paradigm comes with it’s own set of complexities. How do you interact with clients? How do you deliver content? How can employees collaborate remotely?

As these and other new challenges arise, instead of sitting back and letting your boss figure out workarounds and solutions why don’t you get off your ass and help? In some companies, you’ll be put on a pedestal if you know how to setup a meeting using Zoom. After 40 days, I’d hope most companies have already figured this out. But the longer this goes, the more unique challenges will arise.

Be the person that solves these new challenges and watch your personal stock price rise.

Final thoughts.

I hate to say it but we’re in some kind of economic depression right now. Income is super-valuable.

If and when the layoffs do sweep across the corporate world, you want to be last on the list (unless you don’t want to be last on the list…but I’ll save that discussion for another day).

It is very easy to lay off the person you barely know exists. It is very hard to lay off the person who you know and who contributes to the organization. In the current situation, many people will fit into category 1, simply because they’ve been treating this ‘work-from-home’ situation as a quasi-vacation.

It is easy to set yourself apart and show your value right now, so do it.

Free Guide: Surviving the Covid-19 Economic Crisis:

The Covid-19 economic crisis is gripping the world. After 20 years in the asset management business, it looks like we are fighting through unprecedented territory.

This is war. I created a 17 step, 47 page guide to help DumbWealth subscribers get through this.

I originally planned on printing the guide and selling copies for $20+. Instead I’m giving this away free because I think we all need to help each other during these difficult times.