Read Fire Your Boss Online

Authors: Stephen M. Pollan,Mark Levine

Tags: #Psychology, #Self Help, #Business

Fire Your Boss (25 page)

BOOK: Fire Your Boss
Go over ads regularly.
Read publications regularly.
No one hires a stranger.
Draw on existing personal network.
Expand personal network.
Dress and act appropriately.
Ask questions, point out similarities.
Be polite and offer help.
It’s the money.
Chart the twenty factors for each offer.
Prioritize the important factors.
Compare all the factors for each offer.
Hello, I must be going.
Reanalyze current job factors.
Prioritize factors again.
Compare new offer factors.
Determine timing for leaving.
The Seven Steps

Start by firing your boss and hiring yourself. Write your own job description, give yourself a performance review, define alternate courses for your work life, and put your plan into writing. This will let you take charge of your work life. On the outside you’ll seem as loyal and subservient as ever, but on the inside you’ll be charting your own course. You’ll be able to figure out how much you’re worth and what skills you need to add to your repertoire, and to choose short- and long-term goals.

Remember Wendy Rosenfeld, the woman who had allowed her boss, a politician, to assume control over her work life? Wendy fired that controlling boss and hired herself. She took some college courses to expand her graphic and computer skills, and began fishing for work in corporate communications and not - for - profit development. After nine months of looking, during which she continued to efficiently manage her boss’s campaign headquarters, Wendy landed a position as director of communications for an old-line social service agency in Manhattan. She felt secure enough to buy herself an apartment and start creating the kind of social life she never had when her former boss, in effect, dictated where she’d live and for how long. She’s never been happier.

Next, kill your career and get a job instead. Analyze why you work. Determine ways to get what you want through areas of your life other than work. Then start pursuing those routes to fulfillment outside of work. Soon you’ll achieve the satisfaction you crave and will have more time to enjoy it. Rather than trying to find work that fulfills all your wants and answers all your needs, divide your life into a work portion and a personal portion. Work will become less frustrating and life will become more satisfying.

That’s what Sean Shanahan discovered. Having spent most of his working life as a designer, trying to combine art and commerce, Sean finally decided to kill his career and get a job instead. He turned what had been a home office into a studio to do his own art. By not placing the burden of providing psychological satisfaction on his work for the design firm, Sean found he didn’t feel the need to spend so much time at the office, or bring work home. He started feeling better about work and about his personal life too. Sean entered some of his work in a juried show for the first time since college and received an honorable mention. Encouraged, he’s now working on a new set of collages, hoping to build up sufficient work to interest a local gallery. He’s now achieving the artistic fulfillment he always tried to get through work, through his personal life instead.

Then, realize there’s no I in job. Focus on meeting your boss’s needs rather than your own. That will let you secure your job even while spending less time in the office. It will enable you to earn raises and praise even though you’re actively looking for another job. Determine what your boss needs and wants, by figuring out what type of boss he is and observing him carefully. Prioritize his needs and decide which to tackle first, and how. Then make him feel as if his success and happiness are your number one goal.

That’s exactly what schoolteacher Janet Crosetti did. An ossified department chairperson was causing Janet many problems upon her return to teaching. A cowardly boss, Janet’s chairperson threatened to make her teaching job a potential minefield. But Janet realized that the best way to make her own job safe was to make her frightened boss feel safe. By playing to her chairperson’s ego, offering to accept responsibility for risks, and warning about possible problems and offering solutions ahead of time, Janet built a cocoon around her boss. After nine months on the job Janet had moved from troublemaker to the apple of her boss’s eye. At the start of her second year the chairperson was actively promoting Janet to the school administrators as a star in the making.

Your next step is to “go fish.” That means learning how to go job fishing rather than job hunting. Rather than reactively looking for work when something happens at your current job, become a proactive job seeker who’s constantly looking for another position. And instead of focusing on finding a job you want, concentrate on attracting job offers whose merits you can judge after receiving them. Alternatively, offers can be used as bargaining chips to get more at your current job, or to create competition between two suitors.

Jared Edwards’s sales career had been long and varied, but always reactive, until he started job fishing. Having gone through a long and difficult time finding his current job, Jared became proactive, actively seeking offers even though his job was going well. He had received two offers in his first year of job fishing but turned them both down because they didn’t pay enough. Jared then developed a connection with an inventor-entrepreneur by using his fishing techniques. He slowly cultivated a relationship with the individual. While this was going on, Jared picked up some preliminary signs of instability at work. Jared reeled his new contact in, and won an offer of a job that paid the same as his current position but offered the possibility of earning far more. He grabbed it after his current boss wasn’t able to match some of the new opportunities. Three months after taking his new job Jared learned of wholesale layoffs at his former employer.

The fifth step is to realize that no one hires a stranger today. The age of networking and informational interviews is over. Draw on your personal relationships to find job offers. Make friends, not contacts. Socialize, don’t network. Expand your personal life and you expand the universe from which you can draw connections, broadening your reach into fields and industries you’d never otherwise touch. Pursue those things you most enjoy in your personal life and you’ll also benefit your work life.

Fred Peters, director of publications for an Ivy League university, was faced with an unsettled situation where he worked. In an effort to get away from the threatening departmental politics, Fred decided to start job hunting. But when he tried to use traditional job-search and networking techniques, he came up short. Fred learned that no one hires a stranger today. As a result he began expanding his personal life instead. Fred began playing more golf, joined the board of his son’s youth hockey league, and even got active in local theater. Fred struck up a friendship on the golf course with the general manager of a printing company, which led to his being offered a new job as assistant general manager of the company’s local facility. Six months since landing that job, Fred is sill working on expanding his personal life. He’s joined a gym and a reading group, and is planning on taking an art history class in the spring. He’s leading a richer personal life than ever before, and simultaneously expanding his job prospects for the future.

Next, accept that it’s the money that counts when choosing which job offers you should take. Isolate the twenty factors that characterize every job. Prioritize them based on your current situation and future needs. Give maximum weight to those that provide you with more money or more time. Trade amenities, a comfortable environment, and a supportive culture for paid time off. Exchange status, title, and opportunities to advance for a higher income. Swap autos, retirement plans, and perceived stability for a shorter commute.

When Debbie O’Leary came to New York she had a hard time finding a radio job like those she’d held previously. In fact, she had a hard time finding any job. It took more than eighteen months, but Debbie eventually received two offers: one a part - time deejay position at a rock station, and the other a jazz-programming job for a satellite radio network. Debbie’s instinct was to take the deejay job, since it offered status and opportunities for advancement as well as a comfortable environment. But after weighing the factors involved in both offers, she realized that the satellite radio job offered more opportunities for learning; a better retirement plan; and most important of all, considerably more money. A year after making her choice, Debbie feels even better about it. The satellite network is making inroads in the marketplace, and Debbie has gotten two bonuses. The radio station where she would have worked has gone through a format change, from rock to sports talk, meaning she would have lost her job.

Finally, you need to enter your job with a plan for leaving — an attitude I call “Hello, I must be going.” Accept that no job is permanent. Resolve to leave on your schedule rather than your boss’s. Turn leaving a job into a positive step rather than a defensive one. Determine what additional compensation will improve your situation, and then take jobs that provide it. Make a quick move to a new job if it’s a major improvement. But after a couple of years make a move for any improvement to keep your forward momentum.

Bill Kaplan was excited to land a job as assistant manager of a bookstore after graduating college. Having had a nomadic academic and work life up until then, he found stability inviting. Yet, he soon realized he had to plan for leaving. Bill analyzed his current job and prepared a checklist against which to compare job offers. He began job fishing and expanding his personal network. Through his work for adult literacy, Bill met the owner of a special-interest bookstore who offered him a job as manager of his store. Since it represented a 20-percent salary increase, Bill took the job. After six months at the store the owner and Bill worked out a plan allowing Bill to purchase the store over a period of five years. With three years still to go on his buyout plan, Bill is as thrilled with the possibility as ever. At our most recent meeting he and I worked up a business plan for the store, including projections for when it should be sold. Bill is convinced of the need to always have an exit strategy.

You can turn your work life around and create the life of your dreams. I’ve been helping my clients do just that for the past three years. They’ve used the same process I’ve outlined in this book. It has worked for them and it can work for you.

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