“Fire your boss and start your own business!” I’m a big fan of the concept and I’ve seen it work for many, time and time again. Frustrated employees transformed into successful entrepreneurs – or at least creating much better incomes. Of course I’ve also seen it go horribly wrong when someone prematurely leaves a job before he’s ready.
Soul Kabweza, who writes for the excellent blog Techzim, shared with me his thoughts on the matter – especially if you choose to stay employed for a while longer…here’s Soul, unedited;
Thoughts On Loving and Leaving Your Employer
Some time, not too long ago, I had the opportunity to pass on some advice to a young software developer. He sought my opinion on a decision to move from his employer to a new company.
His dilemma, he didn’t want to betray is boss. He felt he somehow owed it to the ‘good’ boss and by extension, the company, to stay even though he wasn’t getting paid much. Now this particular guy was a bright young man. Energetic, positive and full of passion. The kind of team member every leader wishes for.
I’ve been with a few employers in my life, and I’ve learnt some important lessons along the way. Admittedly, life threw some critical lessons my way with without any frustration along with them, but a few, I learnt the hard way. Here’s what I told this young man:
1. Any employer is just that, an employer
No matter how cozy the relationship gets, you’re there for one reason only, to make the company money. You are part of the system that produces the results which they built the company for. The moment you cease or are perceived to have ceased to positively contribute to the objectives of the company, you’re not a darling anymore and understandably, the employer will have no choice but to show you the door.
2. It’s the shareholders first
The company was built to make money for its owners. Not to employ or love you. If they could get a machine or some software to do what you do at a lower cost, they wouldn’t flinch at the prospect of letting you go.
Management school teaches leaders that employees are the company’s greatest assets. Face it; you are just but an asset. To the owners, the only difference between you and the other physical assets they have (cars, buildings, systems) is that you’re worth a bit more. What’s worse, despite this common management advice, some employers still think (but never admit) that their physical assets are worth more than their employees. For a simple reason really, a car doesn’t nag for a raise.
2. Just because your boss is a ‘good guy’ doesn’t mean the employer loves you
First, there are no good or bad guys, just guys with moments of goodness and moments of badness in different proportions. That is my experience. When a boss is a great guy, do not confuse his momentary goodness with the company’s love. When the time comes to let you go so the company can cut costs, that is what he will do. If the company doesn’t lay him off first that is.
4. They just pay you enough
It’s been said over and over again, companies just pay you enough to keep you there. It’s true. That’s how they decide how much to pay you. It’s not linked to how much the company is making or whatever figure you tell yourself you’re worth. Even when say your commission is tied to how much money you make for the company, that percentage that THEY came up with is just enough to keep you around.
5. Manage your own finances and life
It is not your employer’s obligation to manage your life for you. It’s bitter medicine to take in but you need it. Make your own financial plan. It’s your responsibility to secure your life financially. Stop being a big whiner. It is not their responsibility and they didn’t build the company to do that. Stop complaining to your friends about your employer’s insensitivity to your deteriorating quality of life.
6. Constantly remind yourself why you are there
Some employers tell you the candid. They tell you in simple terms why you are there, what they expect from you and what they will give in return. Some employers just suck at this. They deliberately flatter you into an imbalanced love relationship to get more out of you. And if you don’t see it, you fall for it.
Some people reading this right now are being ‘loved’. Do not be fooled. That love is coming because you’re an asset to them right now. The moment you cease to be or are perceived to have ceased to be, it will vanish like it never existed. Whatever the employer says, know why you are there. If you do not own part of the company, you’re just an asset.
And be a good asset; work hard every day, get noticed, go up the food chain, get a fat raise and work even harder, but whatever you do, don’t fall in love. My simple suggestion is that you constantly remind yourself. Assets wear out and get replaced. You too will.
Max would probably offer that you just become your own boss. Hey, if you have a great idea, why not give it a shot and see where it takes you. So, when you’re faced with the stay or leave decision, remember these things.
(From Max: By the way Soul Kabweza writes for Techzim, hands down one of the most kicking blogs in Zimbabwe. There’s no better way to stay in touch with what’s happening on the technology front – find it here)
Your work experience might have taught something different, or maybe I left out something you think is important. Please share your thoughts in the comments. What works for you?