Friday, November 4, 2011

Deciding to leave and what's next

A reader recently wrote me asking if I could answer the following three questions:
1. How I decide to leave?
2. How I found my new job?
3. How do I find working in a place where I am not my own boss?

I'll post my answers here as I am sure everyone will find them interesting. (Thanks C for writing!)

Deciding to leave
How did I decide to leave? Well, It was a process. A long one. I joined the business pretty early on and spent over 13 years working in it. I started in the mailroom(!!!) and moved up the ranks till I was a senior manager.

The biggest mistake I made was following the path my dad paved for me rather than taking my own. I never asked myself if the business is where I wanted to be, or if it interested me. I pretty much took that I had to work in the business at face value. Down the line this would cause a lack of self-fulfillment, but mostly it caused my father and I to clash over me not meeting the goals he set for me (the goals were unattainable by humans).

The other evil, which exists in most family businesses, is that there is no separation between family life and business life. Business always came first no matter what the setting was. We'd end up clashing over business stuff during off hours (you can imagine what that does to a family vacation).

But the fault that really did it for me was the lack of full responsibility. No matter how high up I was in the ladder, all decisions had to go through my father. It came to the point where I could no longer manage my team as he would come down, reverse my decision (in front of the team) and layout a new set of actions.
I think there were two reasons for this: a. he was looking out for his business; b. he was trying to minimize the mistakes I would make.
I do not accept either: I was looking out for the business too, it was a family business after all; and mistakes are part of life, we have to make them so that we can learn and improve.

And so it was, that after 13 years we clashed for the last time over the latter. He would accuse me of mismanaging my team. Arguing was futile. I quit.

Finding my next job & life in it
The original plan was to find a job before I left the business, taking a week or two holiday before I started. I had managed to score a senior position in a tech company, but a few weeks before I was scheduled to start, they called and said the position had been canceled. (Their loss.)
The result of this was that I spent the next 6 months looking for a job. It was not a fun time to say the least. Money was running out and I eventually swallowed my pride and went on the dole for a short period. It was bad.
But, with the help of some very good friends—which, if you ask me, is the only way to find a good job—I managed to finally get a job. It was close to home (a 30 minute commute) and it was interesting. The added bonus was that it was filled with great people, the kind you can't wait to meet again tomorrow. I love it there.

As for being my own boss—not an issue at all. It's all about your employer respecting your time, something I mentioned in a previous post here. Trust and respect is all you really need to feel like you're your own boss because it empowers you to do great work. And if you do great work you will be trusted even more and respected even more. I was promoted only 3 months in.

If you notice you'll see that I opened with trust and respect (at least lack of) and closed with them. If you ask me why I left the business—and were looking for the short answer—I would say that the gist of it all is trust and respect. The depth of their deficiency while in the family business was intolerable any longer...

1 comment:

  1. Nice Post! I am living the same thing actually. And I will also quit eventhough I still did not get another job. But as you said Freedom is really priceless!