“If I go there will be trouble
If I stay it will be double
So you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go?”
It’s that time of year when people get the itch to find a new company. Frank and I take an objective look at the biggest of career decisions.
In this episode, we cover:
- Why January is “quitting season”
- Everyone can be replaced
- How you are only one regime change away from being replaced
- The misguided thinking of blind loyalty
- If you are living for Friday, pack your bags
- If you don’t want to do it for 20 more years, why do it one more year?
- A bad boss in a great company can be an opportunity
- How to use the interview process to understand a company’s culture
- Why life gets better right after the worst of a company’s turnover problem
- How to leverage your experience for a big payday
- Questions to ask yourself before deciding to leave
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
“Is It Time To Leave My Job?”
We are talking about leaving a company. For everyone reading, this is a therapy session for Frank because he’s already thinking of quitting as my cohost for this show. This is me talking to Frank about all the reasons as to why he’s still doing this. The HR Magazine had some survey that came out, and 1 in 5 people leave their company in January. That’s worth repeating 20% of people leave their company in January. This falls in line with resolutions, with goals. It’s a transition. It’s a mental date in someone’s mind. Frank, a lot of that has got to do with end of year bonuses, wrapping a year up, maybe not having the energy to leave a company around the holidays. You want to get through the holidays, then you’re going to deal with whatever offer letter you have. There’s a lot of natural inertia around it.
Business planning starts. You get your new plan in January and you’re looking at it. You’re like, “The last thing I want to do is dedicate another year of my life chasing these freaking goals.” That usually starts in January.
When did you leave NVR?
I quit in January.
My last day with NVR was December 31st. January was my first free man month. I left GE in January. I started at NVR on February 14th, two weeks after leaving GE. We’ve left three companies together, big ones, and we’ve done it all in January.
Did you ever see the 2000s movie, Wedding Crashers?
There’s a scene. He’s like, “It’s quitting season.” It isn’t wedding season. It’s quitting season. This is when people do it.
Part of what got us talking about why we even do this agenda, I’ve had an unusually large number of people that I know reach out to me and talk to me, thinking about leaving their company. I’m trying to hash through what they were thinking of doing. Some had other offers. Some did not have other offers, they just wanted to leave. They were unhappy for different reasons. I very much felt like that January thing is creeping up from the volume of calls I’m taking on people that are considering leaving. Frank, it’s never the same answer you give someone when they ask for your advice on something like that. Sometimes you listen to them and you think you should stay where you’re at. You’re in a bad place to be making a decision. Sometimes you think about it and you’re like, “Based on everything you told me, there’s zero reason you spend another month there.” Sometimes it’s the same company that you’re talking to people about.
You and I have had this conversation for years. We marvel at the fact of how little time people put into where they’re going to buy a house. We also have marveled at how little thought in many instances goes into career decisions where you live, where you work, when you quit, when you start something new, are you being strategic? You have all these skills, then you forget to use them on yourself. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it’s December, January, if you’re staring down the barrel at the end of a year and you start thinking about these things, but it tends to line up end of the year, beginning of the next.You spend 4 to 5 times more with your work family than you do with your nuclear family. Click To Tweet
As we get older and we get into executive level positions, for our readers as well, there’s often bonuses, significant amounts of money tied to finishing a calendar year somewhere. That was something that personally affected you. It’s something that very much affected my decision leaving in January. I need to lock in my year end. I’ve got a huge bonus that was paid out. I was no longer a member of the company when the bonus came in, but I still got my bonus because I earned it. You’ve got to think about those things. You don’t want to scorched earth. You want to be smart and set yourself up going into something else.
There’s some loyalty also involved in it, Frank. December is the largest month of the year for a sales person and they have little kickers that kick in, but you want to get that December commission check because January there’s no money. That’s another thing. January there’s nothing left. There’s no pay to even keep you around. In both situations, I had stock options to think about. My equity came due if I stuck around until the 31st of the year, if I was there. In both cases, that was important to me. Financially, a lot of people are staying until the end of the year and thinking of leaving. This number is going to be even a little higher in 2021 where you’re coming off of a year that was flat out bad for half of companies.
It was good for some companies. It was a boon. For some companies, it’s flat out bad. A lot of people, out of a feeling of loyalty, stuck around with their company in 2020, but they might’ve seen some things they didn’t like. They might’ve seen some short-term decisions from their company. People laying off a little too much, getting rid of some people who’ve been around a long time, then all of a sudden, the market rebounds. Now they’re back out talking to some of those people. A lot of employees were watching how managers behaved during the pandemic and didn’t like what they saw. They stuck around through the end of the year, but their loyalty isn’t the same as it was coming into 2020.
In 2020, there was a major contraction. The contraction is more or less over. In certain industries, it is not. In restaurant industries, there’s most likely contraction again because we’re getting the winner and you’re not going to have outdoor patio seating. In other industries, we know where the bottom is. People are organizing and growing. We’ve grown. We’ve doubled in size. Since we did a big reduction in COVID, that being the case, the market is frothy. This is a timely topic for us to get into because if you’re not happy in your job, you spend more time at work. I can look up the statistic. By and large, you spend 4 to 5 times more time with your work family than you do your nuclear family. You see your wife and your kids last and you see people when you’re going to an office. It’s a big decision and now is a good time to reset if you haven’t already made plans to do so.
I like it more when you spit statistics out off the cuff. In editing, I can tell you how wrong you are after the fact. Keep doing what you’re doing, don’t look up stats and spit things out like you’re serious about it.
You’re thwarting my enthusiasm with these statistics. I use to overshoot that he gave me a hard time and now I undershoot. He’s like, “5% come on.” I’m like, “I said 1%, that was too high.”
You can get into unemployment numbers. You can get into the job market, all of that. The truth is good companies are always looking to upgrade talent. They’re always looking for better talent. In my experience, it wasn’t the person I wanted to leave who left. It wasn’t the person that I was interested in firing anyway because they weren’t a good performer or they were a bad attitude. It was always my good performer with a good attitude who left when I didn’t have enough people. For companies, that’s the person you need to be paying attention to, the mentality of where are they going to go. It’s a tough market. It’s a pandemic. That’s ignorant because good companies like yours are looking for good talent. If you don’t treat people well just because it’s a pandemic, what you end up losing is your top 20%.
Let’s say this quick. We contemplated what to do with this episode. One of the things we had talked about was how to get hired now. There’s a perception out there that you can’t get a job now. That’s untrue. You can find a job now. Not only can you find a job, good companies are hiring. I’m a small company, but we have 30 plus employees. We don’t always release these episodes in order. There’s an up and a down, but we’ve had from COVID to now, we’ve had a steady growth of people. We’re over 30. We offer health insurance. We offer 401(k). We offer a very competitive wage. Why is all this relevant? We are finding incredibly talented people that work at bad companies who have left, and we’ve been able to find them in a way that’s way easier than in the past. The other thing is if you’re on the fence of, “Should I quit or should I not?” The time is right, but should I do this? This is very relevant. You might not get the exact number you want. We don’t offer as high of a base as we did 6 to 12 months ago. If you get inside the door, the incentive is there, the ability to perform is there.
We have people who got in the door on a lower wage that have quickly gotten raises, people who have had promotions, moved to different roles. That’s real. Don’t let the noise that’s happening out there talk you out of quitting because you’re worried about the market or even if you don’t get the exact offer, say, “What does six months look like? What does a year look like? What do two years down the road look like at this company? Can I do those things if I perform?” Have a little bit of self-belief that you could do it because right now is a growth time with the right company.
There are plenty of reasons to go to work for Cava Companies. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the top ten things that you might be thinking about leaving. Is it the right time for me to leave? These are some things that I’m going through. What’s not listed on here is the number one reason that Cava Companies people pick on, which is the owner keeps eating my lunch out of the refrigerator. That’s not on the list. We’re not going to go into that, Frank, but that might be part of the bonus features we go in afterward. Number one on our list of top ten is that your company doesn’t treat people well. I have a story from this that my first job out of college was with GE. I was like a typical college kid. I was gung-ho all about GE. I wore it on my sleeve. I wore GE polo shirts all over the place, and jackets. I was proud of working for a big company and proud that I had that job.
In all honesty, with your GPA, you should have been proud.
I should have been proud I got into there. There’s no doubt about it. To round it up to a three and that didn’t belong on that resume. About four years into working there, I sold services, industrial products, things of that nature. We sold field engineers. Our engineers were the product a lot of times. They would go out and they would fix some steel mills process. Our account managers, which was my job, we were very close with our field engineers. We got to know them well. We talked about customers. We strategized. We got each other’s back. They would cover for me if I needed it, I would cover for them. They counted on me to get them business, to keep them their hourly rate going. We had 30 of them in our Chicago office.
One of my favorites was a guy who was 60. He’d been with the company for 30-some years. I remember he got an opportunity with a smaller company. It was for a lot more money. He turned it down. They ended up filling the position. Nine months later, GE laid him off. I remember thinking, here was someone who made a decision based on loyalty to a company and the company didn’t have the same loyalty back. I’m not even second guessing the question of why it was Al, why it was anything else. The lesson to me was the concept of loyalty is silly. Whether you’re an employee or not, you’re a freelance contractor who’s paid to do something for an organization that makes profit. That’s it.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a 401(k) or you work for the company. You are a freelancer that as long as you produce, you are paid. Having this concept in your mind of I’m going to be loyal to an organization until the very end, I can assure you, your company will not give you the same benefit of the doubt. Unless you work for a tiny company that can’t stand the fact of thinking about letting someone go, companies do not have the same loyalty that people have for them.
I’m a consultant with a bunch of small businesses, as you know. What happens in a lot of instances is small businesses do have loyalty because they don’t want to go through the pain of hiring because they don’t know how to hire. That’s real. If you work at a small place, you will get a lot more leeway and leverage. You’ll get a lot more leash than you’re going to get at GE. GE was famous. Even when your team was great, Ian and I have talked about this, they would fire 10% or 20% of their people. You’ve got to know where you are. There are a couple of things to unpack. Ian and I both live in Virginia, even though we live miles apart, but nearly every state in the US works this way.
Your employment contract is at-will. It means you can quit and you can get fired. There are unwritten rules around business. In the old days, there used to be a lot of loyalty. If you go back and read business books that talk a lot about nostalgia from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, you would retire with a gold watch. Those days are over. Technology has come in. There are many different things. Iteration happens so much faster in business. Many times, iteration will happen. It didn’t use to happen within a career. You could be the same person, get the gold watch. That’s not the way it works. You have to understand that.
I watched one of our senior level managers go through the same thing at NVR. It was 2000 and the market softened in 2005, but it was like 2006, 2007. I watched someone who was when I started, he was like nine rungs ahead of me. He was like my boss’ boss’ boss. He was a regional manager. There were very few of those people at NVR. I didn’t know the backstory. I didn’t know all the stuff between him and the CEO, but what I learned was he didn’t have the same vision that the CEO had, the CEO won. We were like, “How could they do this to a guy that’s been here for 30 years? He’s come up through the ranks. He was replaced. He got a nice package. He exited. That was it.” He was replaced by someone who would listen to management. To me, I was in my low 30s. I had years to go. It was some of the first times I started to realize, “This place may not be good to me long-term. I have to look out for myself.” People miss that.
I’ll give one more story from GE on this whole company doesn’t treat people well. I had two great mentors at GE. I had a lot of good managers, good mentors there, but I too that I’d been with awhile, my boss and my boss’ boss for a while when I was a manager. We went through a reorganization. All of the management changed above them. They were like that out, summarily dismissed. They’re both CEOs now for smaller businesses, somewhere else. These were good managers. They cared about people. They were the antonym of what GE would become. What was wild was the new regime came in. They wanted the old out. They interviewed me and they liked me. Since they chose me, I was popular with them.
They promoted me, put me in, but I saw what happened to, in my mind, better, more experienced leaders were dismissed because there was a change of regime. What that told me was I was one regime change away from being flicked out the door at GE. I benefited from this regime change. I got a huge promotion. I took the top-level guys, my mentor’s job, but I knew it’s a matter of time before this company reorgs again and I’m out. At the time, I didn’t have kids. Do I want to have kids and worrying about this crap one day working for a company that is this quick to get rid of people?
One of the things that is so important that you said it’s incredibly important that you know where you work. At GE during that stretch of time, that’s how things were. NVR morphed into that. Where I started the work and where I worked changed because the market changed. In addition to that, I was in getting in an Uber in Miami. My wife and I got in the Uber and we were driving. The woman was explaining to us how loyal she is to Uber. She refuses to drive for anybody else. The whole thing I’m thinking is Uber is set up so you are not loyal to them. Why be loyal to Uber? They don’t want you to be loyal. They want you to be a free agent. They want you to come and go. You have to be very mindful of where you work. The recipe that you used in the past may not be the right recipe. Know where you’re at, understand those things and don’t get amnesia. You watched two of your buddies, who you’re still friends with, that I know get ushered out and you got a huge raise. At the same time, don’t say, “This can’t happen to me.” As soon as you think that, it’s going to.If you're an employee, don't start talking about the weekend in front of your bosses. Click To Tweet
If that’s the culture within your organization, it will happen to you. If you’re looking around you and other people are being treated poorly, you can’t assume that you will be treated differently. A culture of a company is the culture. If that is something that is prevalent and that’s a reason why you don’t feel comfortable staying, I would say that is a legitimate reason for being open-minded. That’s not a reason for running out the door. You have to be rational. It is very much a gut check for you that you’re being overly loyal is misguided.
If you’re looking to jump ship, if you can figure out how to talk to somebody who works there, see how people are treated, ask the question. I encouraged people who are employed here or people who are coming to be employed to communicate. One of the things that I get feedback on after people join the company, “I talked to Vince. He was so nice. He was polite. He said people get treated well.” That matters. Sleuth that stuff out, but realize if you’re in a place where the hammer can fly, it could fly towards your head.
Out of this top ten list that we’re building, for me, in each case when I left, there were multiple checkoffs that it wasn’t one thing in any of the cases. It was multiple pieces on here. For me, it wasn’t this way at General Electric because I was not miserable. A lot of people that I talked to say, “I’m miserable. I don’t like what I’m doing. I don’t like the culture. I’m dragging myself out of bed. I can’t wait until Friday.” I can tell you, Frank, in twenty years of working at GE and NVR, only maybe 2 months out of that whole 20 years, was I coming into the office on Tuesday and thinking about Friday. That was at the very end where I was like, “When is Friday?”
That hadn’t happened to me since summer jobs working construction in high school. That did not happen to me. I was like, “How have I got to a place where I’m thinking about Friday on Monday?” All prior to that, you come in on Monday, blink your eyes and it’s Thursday. You’re not even thinking about it. My weeks flew by because I loved what I was doing. I was having fun. It got to a place where I could not wait until Friday. I was living for the weekend. What I can say is that didn’t last long. When I got to a place where I was living for the weekend, my mind was like, “I’m doing something different. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life doing this.”
You never got to a point of misery, and I did. You’re talking about Mondays and Fridays, I get it. My job changed drastically when I moved. I got a huge paycheck to move. I got a relocation bonus and I was trapped. I couldn’t leave. It was over six figures. It was a significant amount of money. If I left, I would’ve had to pay it back. I couldn’t leave. It was awful. I hated it. It was up to two years. I had to pay it back and it didn’t take long for me to be miserable. I grinded it out because on the other end, I had something that was a huge payoff.
It’s part of the thing that I use to build my business and start with. It was a significant amount of cash. Sometimes if you’re miserable, you’ve got to grind it out. Being in a difficult job, having tough tasks, Ian and I don’t think those things are miserable. Those are challenges that we enjoyed. Coming in and taking over a bad community in sales, taking over a segment of business that wasn’t working, we found those to be challenges, not miserable things. When you transitioned to misery and you’re looking forward to the weekend, you’re thinking about it. Here’s another tip. If you’re an employee, don’t start talking about the weekend in front of your bosses.
When you start saying, “Two more days to Friday,” like on a team call, I make a note of that. I’m like, “That person is not going to be around much longer.” Not only you’re thinking about it now, you’re getting everybody else to start thinking about it. It’s not great for culture. Sometimes you’ve got to grind stuff out, but if you’re miserable, that’s the beauty. You don’t have to stay. That’s what we’re talking about here is you don’t have to stay.
That’s not the only two months when I’ve been miserable at work. Another question you have to ask yourself if you’re miserable now, is there a unique reason for it? Our friend that runs restaurants, he had a miserable march in April. Does that mean he doesn’t want to do what he’s doing anymore? No. He knew it was short-term. He’s got to grind through it. It was a very tough period. It was a miserable 4, 5 months. He had to deal with it. In his head, he knew this is short-term. We’ve got to get through this as a team. We’ve got to do some things that suck. We’re going to be arguing and fighting over certain things with our investors and our firm that we work with. He knew he was going to get through it. He was going to work through it. You’ve got to ask yourself, “Is there a good reason that I am miserable right now?” Working in home building, new regulations would hit for mortgages, financing, underwriting where it would impact both you and I, Frank. It was like, “This sucks, all we’re doing is talking about whether someone qualifies right now.” You can always tell yourself, “This is short-term.”
Is it a systemic misery or is it something that’s situationally based?
The question to ask yourself is, in all the other times where it was miserable, everyone in our corporate office knew it was miserable, knew there were problems and were willing to try to solve it, to invest in it, to put resources behind it, to add more people. A lot of times, my misery was based on, “I have enough managers.” If you’ve got a CEO saying, “Hire, go. How can I give you resources? What can I do?” That’s not misery to me.
Business is never easy. That’s not misery. Thinking like I’d rather drink Crisco oil than go to work is misery. I’d rather jump off this bridge.
Misery is if we were all dealing with that and everyone in your corporate office was like tough. That’s the way we’re going to keep doing it and not listening to you. We don’t want to change it. This is how it’s going to be.
Let’s unpack this a little bit differently. Sarbanes-Oxley comes through and that’s many years ago. Let’s talk about it anyways on the periphery. It changes the business that you’re in. It’s miserable. You’ve got to put in a bunch of regulations. You’ve got to think about how mortgages happen, but changing from NVR to DR Horton isn’t going to solve your problems. Misery is going to follow you to that other job. If you’re so miserable, you can’t live with it, maybe you change industries that aren’t affected by this legislation. That’s what we’re saying. The other thing is, if you’re in the right product space, as an employer, I look for people who are talented, that workplaces, where I’m not necessarily loyal to them.
They’re not like a vendor that I love, but I know their bosses are pricks. I know the conditions suck. I know they’re not paid very well. I look for talented people who I know are in the rule of misery. I can easily attract them. You have to think about those things. If you’ve got a skillset and there’s an employer in your marketplace who values that differently, that could help. It could be a 5% to 20% raise and a better environment with people who support you. The job didn’t change, but it changes, “Am I miserable or am I not?”
Number 3 and 4 that we’re going to talk about are comparable to miserable, but they’re offshoots. Number three for me is I’m bored. In other words, I’m not growing. You’re wired a lot like I am. When I’ve been bored at work, I’ve been miserable. They go hand in hand. I’m not good with being bored and being disinterested and not feeling challenged. Those are things that are incredibly important to me that I have a nagging sensation in the back of my head that I’m wasting. I’m wasting years. I’m wasting months. I’m wasting days where I could be growing. I could be producing more. I could be making bigger changes and here I am going through the motions. It’s something I already know. I’ve conquered this and here I am still doing it.
In my career, I was with NVR for twelve years all in. I got promoted a bunch. The longest tenure I was ever in a job was a little over two years, like two and a half years was the most. It’s hard to get bored if you’re into something for two and a half years. How long were you in mortgages? Is it over a decade?
Thirteen years, I was at NVR, but similar to you, I never went two years without someone giving me another office or new markets. There was always some new challenge.
I went from project management to sales, to estimating, to managing sales, to managing construction. Running a division, I had that role for about four years. You had that role for about ten. Boredom comes in there like that’s real.
It was a little different because my entry level job was GE. I came into NVR as a vice president. To me, I kept doing the same thing over and over again. It was bigger.
The reason I’m getting into this is for this reason. If everything doesn’t align, you might be miserable now, but boredom is going to come too. I never had a chance to get bored. Just like you didn’t have a chance to get bored in the first eight years at NVR because things were changing. The last four years at NVR, it was more of the same. Your region went from 600 to 800 people. Nothing changed your geographic scope or where you had to fly to change. Boredom will come.To leave a company all of a sudden because of a bad boss who isn't doing a good job is a terrible move. Click To Tweet
If boredom does come, what you and I are saying over and over again, if you get bored, ask why. That may not be a reason to quit. It might be, “I need a little bit more responsibility. I want something else.” That might be a conversation that you go have with your superiors. You say, “I’m a bit bored. Is there something else I could do?” It might lead to promotion. If it gets to a point where it’s untenable, like Ian’s boredom was, “I’m bored. I don’t want to iterate. I want out.” Those are different things.
Where I knew is, my last promotion, I went from running a region that was half the size of the company to a position that was a senior vice president role, managing all the regions. I got a promotion and it was equally boring to me as being a regional, nothing changed. It was like, “I’m paid a hell of a lot more, but I’m still doing the same things.” It was to a point where I was like, “Is this what I’m going to do home building and mortgages for another twenty years of my life working for the same?” If I didn’t want to do it twenty more years, why did I want to do it one more year? That’s where I was.
I didn’t even want to be in the industry. It bored me. We’re going to build more houses and capture more. I didn’t care. I remember the spark that set it off was doing the last plan that I did. I remember the first plan that I did, annual plan. It was so exciting. All these new metrics, all the little profits center leavers that I could pull, all the plans that I could put together, go out and implement. Doing the last one, I’m like, “Who gives a shit? 5%. What do you want 4%, 6%? Six percent. You want another two basis points of revenue? We’ll get it.” I remember being incredibly bored with the whole, I couldn’t care less when I went through it. I’m sure my boss felt that. I went through the motions. I wasn’t fighting or arguing anything. It was like, “Give me whatever plan you want.”
Your career is important. It’s one of the most time-consuming events of your life. If you’re miserable, you’re bored, iterate or get out. That’s it. Let’s get into bad bosses.
Number four, your boss sucks. By far, the number one reason people leave companies is their manager. Frank, do you want to venture to guess on a statistic that I could tell you was wrong later?
No. I can tell you that the top four reasons people quit are boss, job fit, stunted growth, pay is fourth.
Look at you just dropping it in there. That’s big time. Where did you get that? Where did you Google search that?
If your boss sucks, the lazy advice is leave. It’s the wrong advice. I can tell you I’ve had 20 bosses in my life and 2 companies. Out of 20 bosses, maybe 10 weren’t that good. I didn’t leave every time they weren’t a perfect boss, a great boss because bosses change, managers change. Sometimes they change very quickly. As someone who promoted a lot of people into management jobs and hired outside managers on a regular basis, over 100 in the last a few years alone, I got it wrong a lot. That wasn’t a good reason for everyone under that boss to immediately quit. When I got it wrong, I would try to go address it quickly.
I would either help them become a better boss, one that didn’t suck or I would replace them with a boss, who was good. To leave company because all of a sudden, you’re saddled with a bad boss who isn’t doing a good job. That’s a terrible reason to leave. If you believe in the management staff, above that manager, if you believe in the owner of your small business, the executives in the company, you have to trust and you look around the company and there are good managers everywhere. You happen to get the short straw. If the culture is such that they put good managers in place, that manager won’t last long doing that, and you can normally outlast a bad manager.
I’m going to summarize it this way. If your boss sucks and the company sucks, it’s probably time to quit. If your boss sucks, but you love the company. It’s probably not time to quit. The other thing you can look at with a bad boss is this, good managers are going to see that you have a bad boss. If you’re able to produce with a bad boss in a company that’s great, you’re going to get recognized. You’re going to get promoted. If you can figure out how to coexist with that person, if you can champion this person, if you become the reason that the person, who is a bad boss, becomes a tolerable to a good boss, that is where exponential growth happens. At a bad company, it’s going to get missed. At a great company, it doesn’t. They’re like, “Did you see what he was able to do there?”
Look at the influence that person had over their manager. I’ve had situations like that where I liked my company and I’ve worked hard to help my manager see things that he was missing and that he wasn’t paying attention to bringing him out, sharing things in the field, trying to help him be a better boss. He wasn’t getting the results and I knew he was frustrated. One, is he open to becoming a better manager? Is he open to getting better, improving, and listening? If that’s the case, then help them be a better manager, help them grow. You weren’t always perfect at everything you did too. If you look around and all the managers are like that manager and the executives of your company don’t quite care either, your manager is not going to change much. The world you’re living in is not going to change. You’re going to be in the same place.
If you have a bad boss, who’s a bad boss in experience. They’re in the wrong role. They’re over their skis. Those things can all be overcome. If you have a bad boss and it’s because the boss is threatened or insecure and you never talked about this, but I threatened people. I know I did. I was better at it than they were. I understood it more fundamentally. I got in there. Nine months later, I was a pro at a job that usually took people a lot longer to master. If you’re in a bad environment, you’re going to get stuck there and you’re going to be there for a while.
If you’re in a good environment, what ends up happening is that bad manager, that person who is trying to block you, your superior sees that. They’re like, “Frank has been great in every other role, there’s probably something here.” You get moved and then you get to be you again. There’s a bunch of ways around that. We’re not going to get into the politics of all of this, but there’s also politics of it. If you’re a good corporate structure and the one person above you stinks, there’s probably somebody else you can talk to and say, “I’m not jiving with this person. If you were me, how would you handle this?” You start to position a little bit. You’re not bitching. You’re not becoming someone who is malcontent, but at the same time, you’re leaving little clues. At a good company, those things get picked up and you can get redirected as well.
That’s a good way of saying it. Number five goes in a little bit in the line of exactly what you were saying. You’re not interested in any jobs in the company. It’s one thing to say, “I’m done with my job. I don’t like my job.” Frank said he was in sales. He was in construction. He got to move around a little bit. He was in some costing. If you look around and you see every position in the company, “I don’t want any of those jobs. I don’t want to do anything anyone around me is doing. I don’t want to get promoted. His job looks terrible. I want to pass.” That’s an important piece to this whole thing is if something we said above that and then you don’t like other jobs. That’s one thing you can do.
If you’re not happy in your role, if you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re not a natural salesperson, but you love analytics. Are there other jobs that you could do that are different within your organization? Everywhere I worked we all had the same company logo, but there were some very different jobs than mine, all of them. They were so different. If you love your company, love the culture and it’s a good company. It’s growing, strong and stable. There’s a good chance you’ll do well in a different position. You might be doing the wrong thing. A lot of people leave without asking that question. Not once, but asking a lot of people that question to see, what would it take for me to get into that role?
It depends on where you work. Here at my company with 30 employees, there are not too many areas that you don’t know about. There are different skills. There’s property management. There’s construction, sales, but it’s not GE with thousands of employees and thousands of different opportunities or business verticals. I was very fortunate that the companies that I knew that I wasn’t interested in any of the jobs were companies that I said no to. Coming out of college, I had an opportunity to work at thirteen companies that I said no to. I remember being in one company on a Saturday night, around 6:00 and half the office was full.
I remember thinking to myself like, “Why would I go to work there? If I want to get ahead of these people, I’ve got to work Sundays.” That’s not a place I want to be. I don’t care what position it is. I don’t want to be there. There was another group of people who were all dressed like mafiosos. If I was in middle school, I would have been fired up about this. Coming out of college, I looked at it and I was like, “You guys all dress nice.” They’re like, “We’re nice. We’re cutthroat.” I remember him saying that to me. I’m like, “I don’t want to be there either.” Sometimes you can sniff that stuff out early, but if you can’t, go.
Number six, people are leaving all around you. Your company has a turnover problem. You might not be terribly miserable. Maybe you’re feeling a little bit of it, but it makes you feel uncomfortable, uncertain. It’s jarring when people leave in your job. It’s jarring when multiple leave in a month. You get 3 or 4 people that all left and you’re doing happy hours for all of them. It can make you feel nervous. In this case, you have to dive into why are they leaving? Why is everyone leaving? Are they leaving because a big competitor is offering signing bonuses and more money? Are they leaving because the job is too hard, work-life balance? Is it they didn’t get along with the old manager? What are the reasons they’re leaving?
I’ve worked in plenty of companies where you get hit with the turnover bug. What I’ve found is that is almost always self-adjusting. A manager is calling the company’s bluff on something like, “The market hasn’t moved that much. We don’t need to pay that much.” They lose 30% of their staff and they’re like, “We’re losing money with all these people leaving. Maybe we should pay more.” They think their staffing model works and it doesn’t or the new software we installed doesn’t work that well and it’s making everyone’s life miserable. What I’ve found is there is a turnover percentage number that will get anyone’s attention all the way up to the CEO. If you lose enough people, someone’s attention will get put onto it where the number of people leaving called the executive’s bluff. All of a sudden, they become very open to “What can we do? How can we listen to you?”If you can tolerate a bad boss and turn them into a good one, exponential growth happens. Click To Tweet
They’re going to come out in the field. They’re going to listen more. This is the last thing I’ll say before we go into this, if you can wait out the turnover problem, the people who waited out normally are the ones who get the spoils. They’re normally the ones that get the new comp plan. They get the new salary ranges. They get the retention bonuses. They get the benefit of a new staffing model where you only have to do half the work as the people that were here six months ago to get better managers in place. Leaving because their turnover, you’re normally too late. It’s like timing the stock market. If you can stick it out until the peak of that turnover, you’re going to get some benefits.
It’s relevant right here. Talk a little bit about the spoils. I’ve never seen this. Every company I’ve ever worked for where there was like people were leaving all around us. It’s because it’s NVR. It’s 2006 to 2008. There’s an exodus because the market was going to hell, which we’re going to talk about. Talk about the fundamentals, it’s a software program. It’s important to understand why to stick it out. Why?
If you work for a good company that’s about performance and you believe in the executives up top, usually a turnover bug, to me, it’s a function of the people who are leaving are not being listened to. They have issues, whatever they might be. They normally are listened to when enough of them leave. It’s like anything when there’s the masses that happen. It happened to us at NVR from maybe 2014 to ‘16, we were talking about, we’ve got to change our comp plan, the way the comp plan is set up. Our loan officers have to carry these 100 pipelines and it pisses off the division because they’re all busy. We need to pay more per closing. We kept bringing it up and kept bringing it up, but it would hurt margins. That’s the way it was. It was going to be a hit on margins, but long-term, it was better. Finally, we lost enough. Where enough home building divisions complained to the CEO and it embarrassed everyone in the corporate office so we went and changed the comp plan dramatically. It changed how much people were paid. It changed their work-life balance. It changed a lot of things, but the loan officers that stuck around ended up getting the spoils of the people that had to grind before them and leave for retail jobs.
Let’s unpack that a little bit. This is going to go in two very divergent ways, but let’s talk about it. I work for NVR and I’m good. I’m not incredible, but I’m good. The comp package changes. I’m top 80%. I’m not at the bottom, but I’m not your absolute superstar. What am I making before the comp plan changes? What am I making after?
Let’s make it simple, 50%, 100 to 150, some went from 125 to 200.
I had jumped ship before that. I’m not the woman we talk about all the time who went eight extra salary, but I’m a normal performer. What am I getting? I changed jobs. I go through all the stress of that. Not only do I change jobs, I got an increase, but what does it look like? Have I gotten up 50%?
I went to another builder where they were paying that already because we were lagging every other home builder. The big ones were already paying more than we were. You go to someone that’s paying that already. What you’ve given up is all of these great relationships that you had with your sales partners. You knew everyone and underwriting, and now you had to start all those over again. You find that the culture isn’t quite as cooperative. You’re dealing with a whole different situation or you left to go into retail and you’re probably making good money. You made more right away. The difference being you’re now having to hunt for every new deal. You’re at the whims of interest rates more than anything. If interest rates go up, your volume goes way down. You have an instability that you wouldn’t have in working for that company.
If it’s monetary and monetary alone, quitting might make sense, but we went through for my unsourced doc, boss, job fit, stunted growth, pay and underappreciated. Pay is fourth. Unless it’s about money, there are all these intangibles.
You gave up three important things. Money that ended up coming to everyone anyway within the company.
My guess is this because I know the way NVR works. We’re getting nuanced, but it makes sense. Let’s say your performers left and you stuck around. Your comp plan went up, but they also needed someone to service that backlog. What happened is they gave you a bunch of that. You jumped up even more than what Ian is talking about. Sustainably you went up 50%, but you might’ve had a jump of an extra $20,000 or $30,000 because you had to get these things to close. That’s when loyalty is rewarded. It’s important to talk about those are the moments that you want to look at it and say, “I’m probably best served being here.” This is a storm that will pass. This is not the foundation has been rocked to a point where this is no longer a stable building.
Number seven is your company is going through a transition. You’ve got to make the decision of, is it short-term or is it a long-term transition that you’re okay with? Everyone went through a transition in 2020 with the pandemic of some kind. It might be a reorganization. It might be an acquisition. It might be a change. Your CEO might be changed or an owner might retire and give the company over to his son and it’s a very different style of management. For me, with a transition, it comes right back to, is this long-term? Is it short-term? Is there still enough benefit? Do I enjoy what I do enough that I can deal with? Transitions are never permanent. There’s always that storming period. Things settle in to equilibrium. How long is it going to last?
If you’re in a place where the equilibrium doesn’t come back, get out.
Number eight, we put it down here on purpose because it’s the obvious one. You’re not paid well. At least in your mind, you’re not paid your market. I don’t know, Frank, for me on this, this is on you. You need to negotiate better. You might work for a stubborn company that doesn’t pay more and they can’t pay more. If you are already the highest paid person in the company doing what you do and you are nowhere near what you would like to be making in life, and there are no other opportunities to make more money, it’s worth going out and looking. It’s worth going out and trying to find where you can.
If you’re unhappy that you’re not paid well, and someone made you an offer of 10%, 15%, 20% more, that’s not going to change your life. It’s better to go negotiate with your manager on how to ask for more money. We did an entire episode on how to ask your boss for a raise. Go back to that first and give your company a chance to pay you the market before you run and panic. If they’re nowhere near, then it’s worth considering.
What I’m putting in my notes here that I want to talk about is, are you in the right field? This is an easy example but it’s a good one. My wife is a professor. She’s way smarter than me. She’s got five degrees or something ridiculous. I barely got a college degree. She is in a field where people are incredibly over-educated, but it doesn’t pay. Nobody in her field cares. They make good money. They make above the median, but very few of them make six figures.
The return isn’t there on the investment of the education.
That was never a draw for me. I always went into, “Where can I be compensated at the higher range?” I wasn’t smart enough to get recruited by Wall Street. I didn’t even know about Wall Street when I was a kid. If I had a time machine, I could go back. I would love to have worked on Wall Street on a floor and done that stuff. I would have enjoyed that, but let’s take it back to something even simpler. When I was in college, I had a job as a waiter and people worked at the movie theater. People did bookkeeping. People did all kinds of stuff. I looked at this and I’m like, “Why would I want those jobs?” Those job pays like $7, $8 an hour. Why do that? I want to be in a position where I can make into the $20. As a good waiter in the ‘90s, $20 an hour was a significant amount of money. Instead of working three times as much to make the same money, I wanted to have the ability to work 3 or 4 days and make what people could make in much more time.
It’s a simple example from being a waiter in college, but this is what’s important. You need to know what the range is in the business you’re getting into. If you want to make $100,000 and that job pays $50, like best case, you’re going to have to be honest with yourself. Do I want the $50? Do I want this job or do I want the money? Those things can never be reconciled completely. If you’re in the right place where you’re aligned and what your salary demands is in line with what is compensated for. Ian, how many times have you wanted to get a raise? You can’t walk into your boss’ office closed door and say, “I need a raise.” You’re not going to get the best money for that. Anytime I wanted to get a raise, I did. How about you?
It’s 100% every time.
We did go into how do you do that and position yourself, but if you’re not paid well, you have to look at it, is it systemic? Am I in the wrong career? Am I in the wrong company or is it me? If it isn’t you and those first two things are right, you can fix it.If you leave your job just because of money, be sure not to half-ass it. Click To Tweet
When I left GE to go to NVR, you said something important there. Are you getting into a more profitable market? In GE, I was selling in an industrial business, selling to a dying industry, steel mills, paper mills, power plants. It was shrinking in America. That’s all going overseas. It still is. Selling to those shrinking margins declining. Even though I had this big job, I got this general manager, a sales job, my salary was maybe $115,000 with a 25% bonus. When I told them that I’m leaving to go to NVR, they tried to like, “What can we do to keep you?” It was like another $20,000 of salary, but I’m like, “I’m getting paid $165,000 with $165,000 bonus. I’m getting triple what you’re offering me in a growing company where the stock options they’re giving me are going to be worth millions. Our stock is declining every year. My stock options, I’ve been here six years. I’ve got them every year, there were zero.” To me, I didn’t even want it to make it about money because they couldn’t even come close. What I did was I traded up to a much better, more profitable industry. I traded industries to be more profitable.
Everything Ian said is right. One of the things that I always compliment him on that he did well is he took skillsets from GE and he learned how to learn different businesses. He learned a couple of different skills across a multitude of platforms, but those skills were understanding the business, the client, how to do sales, how to manage a team in 4 or 5 different business units before the age of 28, which is not an insignificant thing. What he did is he stepped back and looked at it and said, “I’ve done this at GE and from light bulbs to all different things. Let me pick a different thing. Let me find something that values my skillset that I know I’ve already done it five times at GE. Why can’t I do it at NVR?” Instead of it being turbines, it’s mortgages.
It’s the same thing. I’m managing people. I’m trying to figure out how to get a better process, more sales. I’m getting paid triple.
They can outsource that like they can at GE. Ian is competing against a bunch of engineers with very little personality. He was dominating there. At the same time, they could find an engineer with little personality to do what he was doing, but he then took that dynamic skillset and he moved. What I want to say and this is important here. If you’re going to do this, do it. Don’t half-ass it. If you are going to leave for money, leave for money, double, triple, quadruple. If you’re leaving for 8% more or 12% more, I don’t think it’s worth it.
Do the math after taxes. All it’s going to get you is a better car payment, that’s it.
If you can pivot, take those skillsets and take it to somewhere where it values it more, then it makes a ton of sense.
That’s how you build wealth. You go to a company that gives you a chance to practice, teaches you skills. You’re surrounded by talented people. You learn through osmosis. Once you have 5 or 6 years of that, you go lever it in another company that desperately could use those skills because your company probably already has plenty of it as it is.
The other thing you want to do is you don’t want to quit that job until you found the other one. Could you do 65% of what you were doing before and not end up on a performance plan and spend 35% of your time looking for that right opportunity? Let me tell you what that right opportunity looks like in a very simple thing. When I went to NVR and I started as a project manager, they hired business majors and English majors to build houses. I had a degree in construction. I stood out. Where does your unique skillset allow you to stand out? That is where you ring the bell on money.
I want to get to our final three questions. For everyone else, our number 9 and 10. I’ve already touched on your company is shrinking, number 9 and 10, your industry has been disrupted. For me, both of those clicked for GE. My industry was shrinking. My company was shrinking. It had been disrupted by China and offshoring. That trend would continue. Whereas in those trends could not happen in home building, which is why I wanted to go there. You could not bring in houses off the boats from China. The internet could not take it away. It was a local business. I knew it was very different than what I was doing.
Three questions that we think you should ask yourself before leaving. Number one, would I recruit a friend into this company right now? The reason why I think that is a very powerful question to ask yourself is if your company is up against it, but you believe in it, you believe in the executives, you believe in the people, you believe that all it needs is a few more good people like yourself. We’re right back on this thing. If you would do that, if you would put your name on your company and say, “Join us, it’s going to be great. We’re in a bad place right now. We need your help.” You shouldn’t be thinking of leaving. If you’re like, “There’s no way in hell I would put my name on that or bring someone into this toxic place, to this miserable joint,” that’s something that tells you, why would you stay if you wouldn’t recommend it to a friend?
The second question is, are the people who left decidedly or definitively happier? It’s pretty easy to look that. Did they leave? Are they happier? How are they doing? Don’t be blind to that. If you’re in a job where people have gone out and they’re like, “It was better there than I gave it credit for,” you have something you should fix. If they’re like, “No, it’s better here.” You don’t have any clue what’s out there.
Don’t count people that left a month ago. Let them settle in up to six months.
Ian and I’ve talked about this before, too, people at NVR are deep in NVR. With a straight face, they will say, “We have as good of a training department. Nobody knows that NVR trained how good it is.” They’re so blinded by what they’re doing. They can’t give you an open perspective of it.
They’ve never seen another training department.
That is something that if you do see that starting to happen out there, it’s like, “I should open my eyes a little bit.”
That’s why it’s healthy for companies sometimes to hire people from the outside because it’s pretty funny. I heard a lot of that when I started at NVR and I was coming from GE. I went to a few training classes and I’m like, “You believe you have a world-class training department here. You outsource everything to various companies that aren’t even all the same company regardless.” Number three, how hard would it be to find the same job in the future? I asked that of anyone who calls me. I say, “You go take this chance. You want to go start a restaurant. You want to go make soap out of your house and start a company. If you go do that, let me ask you a question. The job you have right now, would your company take you back at pretty much the same amount of money because I know you’re damn good at it or would you be able to find that same job almost with any competitor at any time? If the answer is, “Yeah, this job will always be available and always at the same price.” If that’s the answer that is not a terribly hard job to go find again, you don’t have much risk in trying something else. You’ll be back employed like that. There are certain jobs just like that.
I had people ask me that question before at points in my life. I wasn’t able to answer it. The reason I wasn’t able to answer it is I wasn’t self-confident enough. I didn’t think my skills transferred or I wasn’t being honest. The other thing I was thinking about is if I start a business and I flame out, I don’t want to become a sales guy again. You build all these stories up in your head. What we want you to do is look at it and look at it with blinders and say this, “Is this a job that I can find? I’m making a $100,000, $150,000,” whatever the number is. “Could I replace that doing something else? If this something else might make me happier, I should try it. If I can’t, I don’t necessarily have to come back here, but I can find this again.”
Ask those three questions yourself. We gave you ten reasons. If 5 or 6 of those are you, it’s time to go. If one is you, if 1 or 2 are you, but the other eight you can’t answer yes, you have a better than you’re leading on. You’re just in a tough place. If you’ve got more of these than not, it’s time to get out of there. Like everything, it’s layers that get into some of these things.
It’s at a minimum probably three. If you’re somewhere under five, you might be able to solve some of it. In every job, there are some components of these at any given time. If it’s somewhere between 3 and 6, get out. I’ll tell a funny story to wrap this up. One of my best friends, Ian knows him. He worked at Arthur Andersen. The Arthur Andersen was coming through everything at the end of the Enron crisis. We were 2, 3 years out of college at this time. He was young in this position. Everything on this list, his boss suck, the culture suck, everybody was leaving. There was an industry disruptor, like everything. One day, someone used the voice of Chewbacca to call every voicemail in the entire company and say something about getting out. People started to pick up their voicemails. This was an era where no ring, right to voicemail. Everyone’s listening to it just laughing in an office because Chewbacca was like, “Get out.”
For Frank and I, out of these ten, the only one that fits is you aren’t paid well because that is an absolute fact with a podcast. All the rest of them, we would not be able to say yes to. We’re going to keep doing a few more episodes at least for now. Maybe your company doesn’t treat people.
Although he might complain, Ian does love me as his boss.
It’s good to see you, Frankie.
It’s always a pleasure, Ian.
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