October 26th, 2015
I’ve worked for the “man” a few times in my life and while I have to admit I never liked it much, the experience has always provided something to me in the long run – either some specific skills or at least a better understanding of why I don’t like big business! For a lot of contractors, it’s necessary to work with a large business for either pure employment or consultancies. How you leave the contract or job can be very important for a number of reasons and a recent client of mine brought many of those reasons to the forefront. But first, a bit of history.
Meara had been working with a construction firm for two years and was hired for one of their first big developments in Toronto. It was her first kick at project management and she was primarily tasked with ensuring the move-ins went well and the transition period was done successfully. This is a stressful industry with tons of hours, always on call, no vacation and no one is ever happy. However, she took the job to get PM experience and to move up the ladder. After two years she was done though and wanted out; or, at least some dramatic improvement in the situation. When she came to me she wanted to quit and just go take some nice vacation in a sunny land. This was what I had to say.
- Don’t get emotional. Just because you’re stressed and hate your job, making decisions in that mood are the worst thing you can do. Always, always, always think about what you want to say and then sleep on it before you say it.
- Don’t assume the boss is thinking something. In most cases, the boss is not thinking anything about you at all and is usually thinking about their own situation, their family, etc. Bosses rarely think about their employees except when things come to a head and then they tend to act poorly or emotionally as well.
- Email, don’t phone. If you are not great at controlling your emotions or negotiating, write an email. Let that email sit in your draft box for a day or so, edit it and then after sleeping on it, send it. A well constructed email with sound arguments may not win the day but it is a hell of a lot better than yelling and crying.
- Give lots of notice and then more if they ask it. You might be back. I know it doesn’t feel like it now but I can assure you that just because you think it’s all going horribly, others may think differently. Time changes things and people forget or move on. You really shouldn’t burn bridges no matter what you’re feeling now.
- Jobs are easier to find when you have one. I know, you’ve heard that before, but it’s true. Going on some long vacation and then coming back broke and needing to work is not exactly a strong negotiating position. Calm yourself, look for other work and even if they want you to start tomorrow, say you can’t because of your desperate need for some time off. If they want you, they’ll give it to you. If not, then they probably aren’t your dream employer anyway.
- Look out for Number 1. That’s you. If you need some time during the day to interview for other jobs – do it. Don’t tell them, use white lies or just go. Just because they have constructed a situation that they’re happy with does not mean you can’t alter it to your liking. The company will always survive. You may not. Make sure you do.
- Have a good “leaving story.” It doesn’t have to be truthful but it does have to be rehearsed many times and trips off your tongue eloquently. A leaving story allows you to easily talk to other employers, friends, family, network contacts. It makes you feel better and ensures your side of the story is presented well. Have one!
By the way, my client ignored my advice, got emotional and quit :-). She’s not sure what to do now but that’s the joy of coaching – sometimes they just aren’t interested in your advice or experience. I wonder if I was right? Time will tell!
Tags: quiting, sub-contracting