Saturday, September 24, 2016

Crossroads: A Work Dilemma

An important decision time will soon be coming for me at work. I am usually able to make quick, good decisions for myself, but when it comes to my job, I sometimes struggle.

The recent history: In early 2012, my department at work was in need of a new leader. I actually wrote some posts about this back in 2012. To make this an anti-Rob post, I'll summarize quickly. I decided not to run and agreed to be the interim director for a year to help clean up a huge mess. One year was not nearly enough time to fix things properly, so I continued in the position for another two years. At that point (early 2015), I was concerned what finances might do to my workplace and thought that I wanted someone competent in charge in case some difficult decisions had to be made. The result was that I took on the responsibility of being in charge for another three years. That brings me to now.

Financial issues and a retirement made this the time to merge another department into mine. Meanwhile, I am losing some of my own staff, meaning that I will now be responsible for more things, yet have about the same staff size as before. I know that, no matter what, things are going to change and I have some decisions to make.

Scenario one: I fixed the things that needed fixing and was already considering calling it a day on the director responsibilities next April. I would say "no thank you" and would then have about three years to go until my retirement and could go back to my regular job and enjoy my final years.

Scenario two: I accept the new challenges that will take place next summer and be da man who finds a way to make everything work. This would be a professional challenge, which appeals to me, but would also be a major pain in the ass. I would do this without having all the conditions met that I think are needed in order for me to do this (get an associate director, get a bump in pay, get workers titles and job descriptions changed as I would like, ...) and would likely be frustrated.

Scenario three: I make a take or or leave it offer to my boss, who is in a very difficult position. He's trying to do what he needs to do for the institution and doing what the president wants, yet I also need him to advocate for me. It would be simple: I need this, this and this or I'll finish up my duties and let someone else be in charge on May 1. I return to my regular job and responsibilities and look forward to my final three years at work.

So I am currently perplexed. My boss is having a 1 1/2 day retreat at his house next week in order for our entire unit to work on challenges. He is a good guy, very smart and dedicated, but relatively inexperienced in his job. He is a poker player, so it is fun to talk about job situations in poker terms sometimes.

I have a number of competing emotions and ideas. I am the ultimate team player and think I am a good manager -- certainly a players manager type instead of a business-like company guy. I like challenges, and this would be one. I have a huge ego when it comes to work because I know I am damn good at what I do. However, there are other aspects that bother me. Although I am compensated very well for my regular job, the compensation I receive for being the head of the department is really peanuts. Despite trying to negotiate, whining and even carrying on at times, I haven't gotten been able to maneuver a respectable increase in that pay. Now I am trying to do it when we are having cutbacks and consolidations to save money.

Unfortunately, I also don't think others can understand how difficult my job is and the pressure I am regularly under. I think the appreciation will come after I am gone or out of my current position. I try not to harbor resentment, but there is some there.

Well, this is where I am as of today. Next week's retreat might clarify and some things. I am thinking that I could FINALLY get a bump in pay for taking on more, but I get the feeling that my desire for someone to be bumped up to associate director won't happen. It is difficult when you are solely the responsible person and don't have a back-up with official/compensated responsibilities.

I know that I have many readers who have great business and professional experience. Tell me what you think. I am open to whatever input you have.

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Semi bluff shove....option 2, u won't get all your wishes but u might get one or two.

11:33 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

I'm almost positive I would get a bump in pay, but having a number two person behind me in management is really important. I do have some people who help now, but they receive no compensation for it and can only do so much.

11:44 AM  
Blogger genomeboy said...

It is hard to really judge how far you can push from this description, but I would make a play to get the money and resources you need, but not quite as an ultimatum. Take it as far as you can, and if it looks like you'"" not succeed in getting the whole enchilada, just retreat (to not burn bridges) go back to the original role and play out the string till you retire.

3:30 PM  
Blogger AgSweep said...

Both my kids, my spouse and I have been or are in management positions. 3/4 of us would say that personnel management is the biggest problem. Due to his skills my spouse ended with a large staff, including a number of misfits that no one else could manage. He ended up taking a position with no staff to work out his years to retirement and now happy as clam has worked a couple of years past his retirement date.

I had no staff issues but my caseload was extremely stressful and our agency funding always in danger with no relief in sight. (15 years after I left the agency was basically defunded). My current position came along with more pay, more time off, but less job security as it was a year by year thing until last summer.

Write how out you would like your life to go (in a reasonable (not fantasy) world) for the next three to four years. What would be your perfect balance of work, play, family?

Use a paycheck calculator and calculate the take home effect of a various bumps in pay. Do this for your retirement benefits too if you can. If it puts you in a higher tax bracket, unless something else changes the effects could be negligible.

List the pros and cons of the going back to old job and new job and the reasonably foreseeable future cons with the new job. Take a look at the cons and note duration of the con and stress level.

List likely family events and happenings in the next 3 to 4 years.

Take a look at the cons and project if you can, how you would manage (or not manage) that stress today (without learning new techniques)

If in making the lists a path has not presented itself, try manipulating the pieces you can change to find a path toward a solution that works for you. Identify deal breakers if there are any.

For instance if a major bump in pay is not going to fly about a modest bump with more paid time off.

Sometimes just writing things down gets me out of my head and allows me to put the pieces together like jigsaw instead of having them just swirling around.

I am still in Germany and writing this on a wee little computer so please excuse any typos or bad grammar. (I know excuses, excuses).

2:38 AM  
Blogger thundering36 said...

Perhaps you really need a trip away for about two weeks to decide, say Australia? Can you leave Monday? I still have an extra ticket for the Grand Final,u see,though you'd have to fly on another airline since United is fully booked in Economy. However, I'm sure with your winnings in Vegas you can afford a First Class seat. Melbourne's Crown Casino has a nice Poker Room from what I saw two years ago. And I'll be able to show you where dem good machines are!

12:40 PM  
Blogger mrben09 said...

Great post AS. For me, sometimes it's a balancing act. If you get a real no2, that shows they support you as the real no1 and therefore should pay appropriately. If you just get the money, it doesn't help the situation for getting stuff done. If the option to step back and take up the original role is there and will not bite you on the ass later on, and it suits from a work / life / salary perspective, then maybe its an option. But it might make things interesting around the office.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Ace said...

I'm nowhere near retirement but I think the decision would come down to two things. One, can I watch someone else get paid well to take over the position and do a poor job. Two, how enjoyable would my job be if I chose to go back to my regular duties only.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Lester said...

take the path that has the least impact on how often you get to play poker

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have no debt, (house paid off), you may want take a step back into the job with less stress, for 3 more years prior to retirement. This may possibly add more years to your life, for poker.

1:35 AM  
Blogger edh530 said...

I did this at my job. I filled in for Senior Staff member. The executives above me said I was doing a great job. I told them at the end of a year either promote me or pay me. They did not promote me but they did pay me a higher salary. Its your call but if you do nothing than nothing will happen.

11:13 PM  

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