Making Sure Your Boss Knows There is a Problem ~ Life Is Great

Friday, August 31, 2007

Making Sure Your Boss Knows There is a Problem

Making sure your boss knows there is a problem cause they may not know. Really.

I spent a bit of time working in a professional recruiting office, and one of the things I gleaned from this experience was that some people let there boss know they are unhappy for the first time when they are turning in their resignation.
This seemed odd to me, but after I had spent some time out in the work force I understand why. Most people have a fear of being fired. They then feed this fear the concept that if they let the boss know they are unhappy, he/she will let them go and hire a happy person.
In my experience as the boss, I know that fixing a problem to make employees happier is easier most times, than finding a replacement.
While at the recruiting office we used to ask the unhappy candidate if their boss knew that they were unhappy. Most of the time the answer was, "No." And we would instruct them on ways to let them know. Because there is this danger in having the first conversation at the point of resignation. It is called the counter-offer.

We would have these unhappy candidates twice. First, Mr. Unhappy would go on interviews and get a new job offer. He would accept and go see the boss. Mr. Boss would say, "I had no idea you were unsatisfied with X Y and Z. Here is a 20% increase and we will get you some help." Mr. Unhappy would not be able to turn this down, and pull out of the new job. Then he would spend a couple of months planning to spend all this new money, and training his replacement.

Yes that is right, that help that Mr. Boss arranged is going to soon be the only one doing that job. Mr. Boss doesn't have the budget to give Mr. Unhappy a 20% raise for a year, but he can for 3 to 4 months.

So three months later, Mr. Unhappy was not only back, but back and unemployed at the same time. The best prospect didn't want him as he had pulled out of their offer and had burned that bridge.

Some one will probably reply with a nice story about how they got a counter-offer or how they use job offers to extort raises from their boss. But please believe me that these are the rare cases.

Now about talking to the boss. One of my favorite ways it to offer to buy him lunch. There are many times when a boss of mine will want to talk off site about up coming organization changes. I use the same format to air issues and grievances. Also, a free meal is a good way to say, "Hey, I still like you but we need to talk."

If you are having trouble getting this meeting you may have to do it in the office, then I recommend a conference room at least. Try not to have this discussion in their office where people will knock on the door and call on the phone and interrupt.

Getting into as neutral of a setting as possible is important a a psychological reasons as well. Your boss may have trouble relating to your problems sitting behind a mahogany desk surrounded by awards and achievements.

And be sure to have written down some or all of what you want to say. Even if you don't bring it or read any of it. Writing it down can help prepare you to sound more concise and coherent.

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