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(:= Cthulhu's Corner

Knowing When To Quit

Bow down to the Great and extremely Harassed-Looking One.

The honeymoon is over. Your boss set you up. You're being ignored. Whatever the circumstances, the winds have changed and you no longer feel welcome in your place of work. You feel like something needs to change.

This is not a passing mood: this is a sign of your times. You may not feel as strongly in the days immediately to follow, but once the idea of change is in your mind, it remains there and grows. You are left with two paths. You will either make the change or you will leave your place of employment.

"Do Not Hesitate to Prepare Your Resume"

If you are not an executive or manager, you will not be able to make the change. Yes, they all listened to you when you had simple things to suggest, but this is no simple thing you're going to ask for. You may have already asked about it and been told no in so many words. No means no, buddy. Quit asking about it and get your resume ready.

If you are an executive or manager, or your manager is behind your request for change, but is getting pushback, read the writing on the wall very carefully. If you're not a manager, assume no means no and get ready to bail out. If you are a manager, look around. Who is behind the opposition to you? Do they have more power than you? If so, do not hesitate to prepare your resume. If you have more power, then ask yourself, are you ready to tear the company and/or department apart in a winner-take-all battle? If not, make ready your exit.

None of these are battles you want to win. Even if you were able to get things to go your way, whoever you trumped in the argument will be plotting your downfall. The war is on and if you are not willing to wage a total war to destroy your foes, you will not prevail. They were difficult enough to cause trouble for you before. They will cause trouble for you again until you are gone.

"BCC Your Emails to a Home Address"

So you realize it's time to go. Good. Do not quit. Quitting your job without another to go to is the kiss of death in an interview unless you're changing careers. Not all employers will buy "I left to try my hand at consulting on my own" as a reason for leaving a job, but that's always better than, "I quit because they sucked." Sure, you could pretty that last statement up, but that's what the interviewer will hear.

While you make ready your exit in searching for another job, protect yourself. Start BCC'ing your emails to a home address so you have a copy of your correspondence there should your hand be forced and your company fire you. After every meeting, summarize the points discussed and send the summary to the meeting participants. State in that email (BCC'ed to your home email, by the way...) that if anyone has anything else to add or clarify, let them do so or the record stands. This will be great later on in case an argument over what was said in a meeting comes up. Your documentation will protect you, if you play your cards right.

Don't attack at this point: play defensively. Be pleasant. Be seen as hard-working. Be seen as pained, long-suffering, and martyred. People will be more likely to accomodate you and give you space so you can prepare for your job shift. Lash out, and you'll be tied down in meetings with HR and your manager's manager, draining away the amount of time you could spend more profitably on a job search.

"Show Up Late, Leave Early and Take Long Lunches ..."

Use your sick days carefully on your way out. You want to take as many as possible because chances are you can't step into your new job and have 2 weeks' vacation right away. Remember that mental stress is a valid illness and sick days are for physical and mental ills. Take that to heart and follow your bliss.

With luck, when you announce your departure, your company will ask you stay at home for your period of notice, "for morale reasons". If so, you've won! Bonus vacation for you from a company you're leaving! That's just great. Enjoy it. If you don't get the stay at home orders, the next best thing is to work from home "on documentation". That's almost as good, so take it if you can and arrange your work schedule around television talk shows and bouts of computer games.

If you have to work in the office, show up late, leave early and take loooooong lunches. What are they going to do, fire you?


Great Cthulhu Jones
CEO, R'lyeh Consulting

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