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Dear Damien

September 11, 2009

I don’t know why but I still find myself in situations where people ask me what to do when they’re stuck with a problem in the office. Okay I’ll offer you what I think, but no guarantees. So here’s the latest one which I’ll recreate in the form of a letter.

Dear Damien, I am fed up with my job. My company is going down the tubes, our sales is the worst in the region and my boss hates me. He stopped talking to me weeks ago and I don’t think I can stand being here another week. I have been interviewing and had an offer recently. But its $500 less than what I am earning now, the benefits suck and my annual leave will be reduced by 4 days. Should I take it?

Dear William (not his real name), when you decide to leave a company, you need to understand if you are running towards something or running away from something. Chances are you will be happier in the new job if its the former and not the latter, even if it offers you less money. From what you describe, it does seem you are running away from a situation. There is nothing wrong in wanting to leave a workplace that offers you no satisfaction BUT you wanna be careful. If you run into the same problem in your new job and you have no real love for that job (since you’re there only to escape your previous job,) and you are $500 short every month, trust me you will feel 3 times worse than you are now.

If you do enjoy your current work, here’s my advise – pick up the courage to salvage the situation. Sit down with your boss and talk it out man to man. Your boss is paid a salary to look after you and it is time he earned that salary. You are also paid to look after his interests so it is fair for you to ask for support. Be honest, be frank, and be firm. You need to learn how to manage your boss.

If for whatever reason that doesn’t pan out and the wound between you two are fatal (which will reflect poorly on your boss, not you), take it up with your boss’s boss. If that fails, take it up to your boss’s boss’s boss, and all the way up to the top. An option is to ask for a transfer to another department to a job that can help you develop. If that is not possible, only then consider resignation.

The reason why I think this way is because firstly, being in a multinational you get to keep your benefits which you say are important to you. Secondly, you’ll send a message to your superiors that you have guts and will stand your ground, a trait that companies sometimes hate but always admire. Thirdly, its a small world. You never know who your boss or client will be in the future so don’t screw yourself.

So to summarize, in your particular sitation, I think resignation should be your last resort. Exhaust all possibilities to sort the problem with your boss first. Escalate it if necessary, or ask to relocate elsewhere within the company. If none of that works, only then find a job elsewhere. But if you leave, try to do it in a positive manner so that your past with these people won’t come back to haunt you at the worst possible times.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2009 4:02 pm

    my gf just quit her high paying job at Sunway , to do business..pay cut is almost 50% ..

    I guess it is easier for chicks to do stuff like that.

    Its easier for chicks if they have rich bfs like gapnap 🙂 . Kidding. I took a 100% pay cut (well, nearly) when I left my job to get my own thing going. No pain no gain.

  2. September 12, 2009 4:56 pm

    I think people write to you for advice because you portray yourself as somebody who can give sound advice 🙂 Which isn’t a bad thing, really! At the very least, people trust you to “save their lives”!

    Yeah, that was what I was afraid of. Thank goodness its only been work-related so far. If its bf/gf stuff I’m going to pass it over to gapnap, hehe. 😀

  3. September 15, 2009 12:26 am

    …and my advice is either

    a)go for another girl , then dump her

    or

    b) Dump her , then go for another girl

    Hah. I knew you would say that. 😛

  4. September 19, 2009 1:14 am

    Mmmm somehow this post sounds like the ‘Big Brother’ or something section in The Star newspaper. 😛
    But yeah, resignation will actually make everything goes bad – relationship will turn sour. Maybe your boss really trusts you and you repay him by resigning w/o even telling him your concerns.

    I always believe that as employees, it is our responsibilities to raise our concerns and to hear the bosses’ side of the story. If you are not happy with the outcome, then you can look for other options. At least, you’ve done your part.

    I once had to advise someone who did try to raise his side of the story to his management, except the management wasn’t interested to listen. A quarrel had erupted between him and the most powerful person in the company – the secretary to a VP – who saw it fit to undermine junior people’s benefits on whim and fancy. The guy did the smart thing – threaten to bring the company to court over malpractice (and he had documentary evidence) and all of a sudden the company was so sweet to him. Sad that even in multinationals run by celebrated CEOs, only threats work instead of reason.

  5. September 19, 2009 11:42 am

    Sometimes, it’s hard to entertain everyone who tries to ‘reason’ with the management. After all, their ‘reason’ could be a threat instead without them realizing it. Maybe that is why the management is starting to assume everyone is trying to threaten them? 😛

    Most traditional hierarchies don’t tolerate differences in opinion, either at home or at work. The same for young managers who are by nature insecure people. A standard tradeoff you get when you work for other people.

  6. September 20, 2009 10:17 pm

    This reminds me of the one I had with my boss about my dangerously high BP and the stressful job they gave me. After that tussle and my insistence on opting out of that assignment, they came out with something like a disability benefits clause for employees who, in the course of their duties suddenly ‘blow a fuse’. I’ll never know if that was a benefit or a self-protective move for the company…

    So, you did leave a legacy after all. 😀

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