Vignettes – 18/05/10

A networking event after work. Big shiny office in central London. Peers. A good seminar followed by drinks and canapes. I ask a bronzed girl at my table if she was at the last event. “No”, she said, “I’ve been off-shore the past 3 years”.

I want to be off-shore.

I am disillusioned with work and plan to leave. Funny how things change. The first 8-9 months I was in this job I swore blind it was the best place I had ever worked. Then the novelty wore off. I love the people. Probably the nicest I’ve ever worked with. But I really can’t stand much about the culture. The lack of work/life balance. I have no career trajectory that I can see. Not really the company’s fault. I need somewhere much bigger. Were the hours not so long I could have stayed here a long time, possibly.

So we’ll see. I have a KPI setting meeting with my boss on Friday (key performance indicators for the next financial year). She’s told me she wants me to tell her “what a great year would look like” for me. Struggling to know what to say. They are recruiting more people including more people for me. This is good. But it’s not really enough.

I once thought I was on a good package but when the hours became very high I no longer feel that. The bonuses (imminent) will need to be very good (doubtful) and the pay-rises (touted at 3%) will need to be much higher in my case to placate me. I want 10%. I’ll probably tell her that on Friday, too. In an uber-diplomatic way I will probably infer, with reasonable subtlety, that if I don’t get it I’ll walk.

The company has low turnover. It has a highly eccentric culture. It doesn’t like it when people walk. So we’ll see.

But the networking event, seeing peers at vastly bigger globally recognised household names, made me feel I’m in the wrong job. I want the opportunities that come with much bigger places. Sure, I have boat-loads of autonomy in this role. But I’m more of a team-based person anyway. Huge levels of autonomy doesn’t mean utopia by any means.

I walked to Bond Street to make my way home. Temperature rising. Due to reach 25c by Friday. The tube felt warm and muggy. I had to wear a suit today (because of this evening’s session) and it doesn’t fit me any more. I’ve put on quite a lot of weight. For years I was blissfully slim. Now I am not. And my old, smart, suits – don’t fit. I blame my job.

11 thoughts on “Vignettes – 18/05/10

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  1. Good luck with your meeting. Kudos on your decision to ask for what you think you’re worth. Though I’m not sure I should wish you luck in terms of getting more money — it sounds like you’re itching to leave regardless. And work/life balance is kind of priceless, isn’t it?

    On the whole I’m very lucky with my job; my work/life balance is definitely good. Sometimes work can be very stressful and sometimes I have to put in crazy hours, but it’s not all the time and it’s not taken for granted or expected. If you do your job you’re allowed considerable leeway in terms of how you do it, how many hours you put in, etc.

    Compensation is not one of their strong suits, however. They recruit almost exclusively outside the USA now, and lay off exclusively inside the USA. The company has agreements with the governments of Ireland, India, China, etc., to maintain a minimum # of employees there, and our jobs are slowly but inexorably moving overseas. What little hiring that DOES go on in this country is almost exclusively new college hires — people without families and who are used to working late nights and are more tolerant of having no work/life balance. Not to mention people who are cheaper.

    I haven’t had a raise at *ALL* in almost 6 years. I do get a (tiny) annual bonus, but they made a decision some years ago to only give raises to the absolute top performers, and there is a quota for the top rating that managers are not allowed to exceed. The best way to get a raise is to find a group of stupid people to ensconce oneself in and excel relative to your peers. I refuse to do that; I would rather work with intelligent people, so I know I’m not going to get a raise any time soon.

    I do love reading your vignettes 🙂

  2. Justin – hmm, you ought to have had a raise these past years but key thing is you are happy/content in job. That means more than any fiscal amount, that’s for sure. I think you know at the 2yr mark whether you want to stay or not. I’m at the 1yr 7 month mark at the moment and heavily minded to leave.

    However, by blogging people only see one side of things. It’s a great company, great people, great role. I just don’t think it’s exactly what I want. I don’t want to be one of those people who think they’re a victim when they have nothing really to complain about. It’s horses for courses. It’s about working preferences too. So we’ll see!

  3. Having to wear anything other than gym shorts and a well-traveled dirty white undershirt when it’s muggy and gross out should be illegal. A suit?! You have my sympathiez!

  4. I agree with Josh! (duh) I hate wearing clothes when it’s muggy, especially a suit!
    I hope your meeting goes well and find what you’re looking for. You should ask for 10% increase in pay AND less hours. That way, you can go to the gym!

  5. Josh – I have to wear a suit again on Tuesday! Not looking forward to it. Usually my dress code is smart casual.

    Mancais – it went ‘OK’ to be honest. Is a good company, a good role and good people. Just not sure it’s my natural fit which is the real problem.

    Enrico – hehe. I got a small pay-rise (we’re all getting them in line with inflation) and she agreed to talk about a bigger payrise. They’re very decent like that. But there is a *lot* more to life than salaries. I need to get more out of the job. Professional services pays well but it’s too conveyor-belt like and rat-racey for my liking.

  6. I’m still wondering what the fact that Enrico “hate[s] wearing clothes when it’s muggy” is going to portend for this summer’s Puntabumeetup …

  7. It is indeed. 🙂 Details here:

    Rilla and me at age 14

    I know it was hard for boys in the 70s not to look like girls — that was the hair style at the time *shudder* — but I still say I rocked the pansy sissy girl look better than the average dude. 😉

    If we were FB friends you would have seen the amusing comments on the topic. One guy called me a “twink”. I responded “jail-bait twink, sure”. Another said “at the risk of coming across like a perv, you were cute”. I responded “risked, and earned”. And of course there’s nothing quite so much fun as the use of the past tense with that sort of compliment 😉

    One of my favourite things about this picture — apart from the fact that she was my first dog and dearly beloved — is how hilariously matched our respective hair colours were. I lost the red on top in my 20s — it would appear that the male-pattern-baldness gene I inherited only applied to those follicles that were auburn in the first place, so I ended up with dark brown hair. Now of course it’s (dark) grey and white. So I’m not a redhead anymore.

    At least I’m not on my head…


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