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Old 08-20-2012, 08:52 AM   #21
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Brewer, I think you are entering a similar phase of dissatisfaction and hostility that was manifest during your last job. I see a pattern here. You are very hard to please. Ask nicely before jumping to conclusions and burning bridges. It must be challenging to be your boss.
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Old 08-20-2012, 08:59 AM   #22
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Brewer, I think you are entering a similar phase of dissatisfaction and hostility that was manifest during your last job. I see a pattern here. You are very hard to please. Ask nicely before jumping to conclusions and burning bridges. It must be challenging to be your boss.
Actually, you would be surprised. I believe that for the last year I have been my manager's dream in that I have largely independently executed a major project that the organization did not know how to do at all and I have done so with shoestring resources and little in the way of complaints or demands. If there is hostility coming through in my posts, it is because I have grinned and borne it for just a bit too long and i have a hard time saying anything since I think it is usually more effective to just walk to the next opportunity.

The group has staffing dysfunction, but they have at least self identified that this is the case and are working to fix it. I don't know if the resources to do so will be available, but we will see.

I think that this thread has allowed me to express some anger and frustration and I take to heart the advice to go easy and ask nicely. Unfortunately, I don't think I can get a face to face meeting as I might see my direct boss in person twice a year, but we are all used to havng in depth discussions on the phone.
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:04 AM   #23
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I'm likely to face a similiar situation soon. I'm in consulting, and my longer term local contract is ending at the end of the year. I have a 16-month old daughter, and too much money in the bank to consider trading time away from her for more money.

I've been with the company 14 years, but I think that this will probably have to end in a job change. I've talked to my boss about it, and he is going to do his best to find local work for me, but I'm not real confident that its going to work.

Hey, 14 years working for the same company (although its been bought, spun off, and bought again in that time period ) is a pretty good run in consulting.
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:42 AM   #24
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+1 to the "direct and soft" approach above. I would appeal to the emotions of your boss and say "hey look, I've been away from the house too much this last year, and it isn't working out. My kids never see me, I don't get to see my wife, things are always hectic when I am in town. I really need to reduce the travel, at least for a while until the kids are a little older. Here are some ideas I have that may allow our group to get the job done while reducing my travel..."

Compliment sandwich it. "I like the job, I like the challenges, this is big time stuff we are dealing with, great experience, blah blah blah. I really want to contribute my all but I can't give 100% if I am stretched thin at home and burnt out."
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Old 08-20-2012, 10:22 AM   #25
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Brewer, from reading your posts it seems to me that the reality is that it is in your mutual best interests for your boss to be flexible to keep a valuable employee and that while you are frustrated with the travel and dysfunction you don't totally want to leave but will if some reasonable accommodations can't be made.

I suggest that you have a chat with the boss about the difficulties that the extensive travel is having on you and your family, that you're not sure how much longer you can take it and that you want to try to work out a different work arrangement that meets the business' needs but with less travel that is a win-win. If the boss reacts positively or negatively, then you'll have your answer.

Good luck.
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:18 AM   #26
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My DW has successfully avoided business travel for most of her career. Her bosses always knew she would strongly prefer not to travel, and they worked with her. Every few years she does end up in Malaysia, China, or Finland or all three for a week or two, but most of the time she just works by phone. You never know until you ask. So far it sounds like your boss hasn't had any reason not to ask you to travel.
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Old 08-20-2012, 12:25 PM   #27
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Ironically, despite my moniker, I hated business travel.
I thought your poster name meant "Travel is over!"

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Brewer, I think you are entering a similar phase of dissatisfaction and hostility that was manifest during your last job. I see a pattern here. You are very hard to please. Ask nicely before jumping to conclusions and burning bridges. It must be challenging to be your boss.
For those commenting on Brewer's choice of occupation, he's generally not at liberty to discuss the specifics of his employer or his customers. I've met him in his previous work environment (near NYC) and we've corresponded extensively over the years. I think if you walked a mile in his financial occupations then you'd be inclined to lighten up on him a little... while also running away screaming from his employment environment.

Let's just say that he went from a "Masters of the Universe" group of hyperoverworking guys whose work/life ratio trended toward infinity, to a better match for his skill set where coworkers avoided any exertion of effort if at all possible, to an even better match for his skill set where the boss appears to be out of touch. Literally and metaphorically.

I can understand being trained to uphold a professional set of standards, and then being repeatedly disappointed by the chain of command people I work with/for. It's possible to love what you do while at the same time being disgusted by the bosses and the co-workers with whom you do it. Even today it still annoys the heck out of me to seek a roomful of experts-- only to realize a year or two later that most of them have been at best misled, or at worst are faking it.

I think that one of the things that brings us to this forum is a general dissatisfaction over a lack of autonomy in our workplaces, let alone fulfillment. That dissatisfaction chafes ever more severely when you're "this close!" to FI.
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:06 PM   #28
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I think that one of the things that brings us to this forum is a general dissatisfaction over a lack of autonomy in our workplaces, let alone fulfillment. That dissatisfaction chafes ever more severely when you're "this close!" to FI.
That is a very nice summation of what I suspect is the motivation for many, and definitely myself.

I don't expect to be thrilled to work any job; it isn't in my make-up. I have achieved the relative nirvana of lowered expectations and now all I want to do is minimize the pain until I can check out. So I will never be thrilled, but I like to think I am a diligent, hard-working, motivated person who generally delivers more to my various paymasters than I was paid for. It is what it is, I guess.
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:44 PM   #29
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I don't plan on delivering an ultimatum, as I have no reason to do so. That said, I can and will walk if they will not play ball. I have small children who miss me when I am away, so this is more important than dollars and cents.
My HR lady perspective is that ultimatums are bad, but an honest talk about consequences are good. I'd suggest getting clear about specifics. What is your goal?

"I want to travel no more than 1 week per month."

The next step is to set a timeline. If the timeline isn't met, you walk. "I want this to happen within six months."

Lastly, decide how/if you want to communicate this to your employer.

You might treat it as a request with no "teeth." "I'm having a very hard time with the travel..."

You might take a hard line and say "I truly love this job and my company, but if my travel requirements stay the same I need to start looking for another position. I don't say this to be disloyal, but I have to be honest. Is the company willing to downshift my travel? Is that even possible?

You might take the middle road and say "I'm getting worried about my travel schedule. I'm not seeing my kids enough, and I can't keep this pace up for another two years. What are my options? I want to make my career here."

Don't hint at leaving if you are bluffing. If you suspect they'll fire you for your honesty, look for another gig quietly. But if there is openness and a good relationship with your manager, being tactfully honest about your intentions may create change. Especially if you are a star.

As always, your mileage may vary.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:36 AM   #30
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Thanks, SIS. I am not intending to hint just yet that I would leave over this. I would keep that option in reserve in case they don't respond to my initial overture. But I think being concrete about what I want is a really good idea and will give some thought to exactly what I want to say before the discussion happens.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:12 AM   #31
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Your posts seem to mix between confrontational and not, so you can understand why some of the responses. In general:
  • Obviously leading off with a confrontational approach is never the most effective. Even if you win the battle, you'll probably lose the war. And if your concerns come to your manager as a surprise, that's your fault. Attempting to lay out your concerns and asking to work them out as others have suggested is the best place to start, even if 'hat in hand' is not your style as I suspect. If it doesn't work out, then you can get more aggressive, but that should be the last card you play, not the first or even second. Telling your employer they need you and you can walk can't end well even if it works now/short term. If I was your manager and you approached me like that over issues you'd never even surfaced before, I'd do my best to let you walk. If you're that unhappy, you're better off walking.
  • I always liked to maintain as much leverage as possible when negotiating with my employers. If there are pay and/or benefits that vest at year end that you want, I'd really try to avoid getting at all aggressive before then. Not saying you shouldn't act now, but I'd try to avoid getting aggressive before the bennies vest. Shame on you if you give them leverage, why?
  • You won't be at your best if you act too soon after an emotional event like your child crying on the phone, though we all understand how painful that would be. Nevertheless, you have to wait until you can be objective again to come to an amenable agreement with your employer. You may already be there.
  • With all due respect, while some are certainly harder to replace than others, no one is irreplaceable (yes, I saw Nords post). I've known dozens of people who thought the company would suffer when they left, every one of them were mistaken. Might have been a short term setback, if that. The company did OK before you got there, and they will do OK if you leave no matter how talented/experienced you are.
  • Other thoughts come to mind, but earlier posts covered them.
  • Having read your posts for years, you know all the above, you just need to reflect and compose yourself to work this out. Unless you want to leave anyway, you may well be able to sort this out to the satisfaction of all concerned. Honey works better than vinegar...no matter what you think of the bees.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:46 AM   #32
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Your posts seem to mix between confrontational and not, so you can understand why some of the responses. In general:
  • Obviously leading off with a confrontational approach is never the most effective. Even if you win the battle, you'll probably lose the war. And if your concerns come to your manager as a surprise, that's your fault. Attempting to lay out your concerns and asking to work them out as others have suggested is the best place to start, even if 'hat in hand' is not your style as I suspect. If it doesn't work out, then you can get more aggressive, but that should be the last card you play, not the first or even second. Telling your employer they need you and you can walk can't end well even if it works now/short term. If I was your manager and you approached me like that over issues you'd never even surfaced before, I'd do my best to let you walk. If you're that unhappy, you're better off walking.
  • I always liked to maintain as much leverage as possible when negotiating with my employers. If there are pay and/or benefits that vest at year end that you want, I'd really try to avoid getting at all aggressive before then. Not saying you shouldn't act now, but I'd try to avoid getting aggressive before the bennies vest. Shame on you if you give them leverage, why?
  • You won't be at your best if you act too soon after an emotional event like your child crying on the phone, though we all understand how painful that would be. Nevertheless, you have to wait until you can be objective again to come to an amenable agreement with your employer. You may already be there.
  • With all due respect, while some are certainly harder to replace than others, no one is irreplaceable (yes, I saw Nords post). I've known dozens of people who thought the company would suffer when they left, every one of them were mistaken. Might have been a short term setback, if that. The company did OK before you got there, and they will do OK if you leave no matter how talented/experienced you are.
  • Other thoughts come to mind, but earlier posts covered them.
  • Having read your posts for years, you know all the above, you just need to reflect and compose yourself to work this out. Unless you want to leave anyway, you may well be able to sort this out to the satisfaction of all concerned. Honey works better than vinegar...no matter what you think of the bees.
Part of the reason I posted initially was to work through some of the frustration and get focused on message/be less confrontational when I talk to my manager. So if I come off as hostile/aggressive, it is because it is relatively safe to do so here ahead of time. I know full well not to go in guns blazing, but I have to be ready to push hard if the initial effort does not work.

Yep, they will find a way to get along without me if it comes to that. As a career-long mercenary I know that full well. That said, they could not replace me and they know it. So I have some leverage if need be.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:51 AM   #33
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Part of the reason I posted initially was to work through some of the frustration and get focused on message/be less confrontational when I talk to my manager. So if I come off as hostile/aggressive, it is because it is relatively safe to do so here ahead of time. I know full well not to go in guns blazing, but I have to be ready to push hard if the initial effort does not work.

Yep, they will find a way to get along without me if it comes to that. As a career-long mercenary I know that full well. That said, they could not replace me and they know it. So I have some leverage if need be.
BTW, I meant to close with wishing you the best of luck. I hope the situation will improve for you and family, while keeping your options open with your present employer as long as you hope to. Not an easy situation at all, we can understand how painful missing family can be.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:53 AM   #34
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BTW, I meant to close with wishing you the best of luck. I hope the situation will improve for you and family, while keeping your options open with your present employer as long as you hope to. Not an easy situation at all, we can understand how painful missing family can be.
Thanks. I think that this is a solvable problem, but if not I have no problems walking. Don't think it will come to thatr, at least not in the hsort to medium term.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:02 AM   #35
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My prior job was very much a "do as you're told" culture. The top people were married to the job and had little interest in employee's families and work/life balance.

I found it best not to try to get them to understand or have sympathy for my needs. Never worked. Rather, I'd focus on what would benefit them.

In your case, it would benefit them to keep you around as you're clearly skilled and get the job done. Present the problem and your proposed solution such as how your job can be done more efficiently and in a less expensive way by traveling less. There are so many alternatives to travel these days. Focus on how less travel will make you more productive and capable of adding more value to the company. Then add how important it is to spend more time with your children. Present yourself as an asset to the company first and a good family man second.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:09 AM   #36
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My prior job was very much a "do as you're told" culture. The top people were married to the job and had little interest in employee's families and work/life balance.

I found it best not to try to get them to understand or have sympathy for my needs. Never worked. Rather, I'd focus on what would benefit them.

In your case, it would benefit them to keep you around as you're clearly skilled and get the job done. Present the problem and your proposed solution such as how your job can be done more efficiently and in a less expensive way by traveling less. There are so many alternatives to travel these days. Focus on how less travel will make you more productive and capable of adding more value to the company. Then add how important it is to spend more time with your children. Present yourself as an asset to the company first and a good family man second.
You nailed it, Purron!
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:42 AM   #37
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My prior job was very much a "do as you're told" culture. The top people were married to the job and had little interest in employee's families and work/life balance.

I found it best not to try to get them to understand or have sympathy for my needs. Never worked. Rather, I'd focus on what would benefit them.

In your case, it would benefit them to keep you around as you're clearly skilled and get the job done. Present the problem and your proposed solution such as how your job can be done more efficiently and in a less expensive way by traveling less. There are so many alternatives to travel these days. Focus on how less travel will make you more productive and capable of adding more value to the company. Then add how important it is to spend more time with your children. Present yourself as an asset to the company first and a good family man second.
I generally agree. The awkward twist is that this is an organization that gives a huge amount of lip service to work/life balance.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:59 AM   #38
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I generally agree. The awkward twist is that this is an organization that gives a huge amount of lip service to work/life balance.
My former employer also gave a lot of lip service to being "family friendly". The reality was far from the pretty facade they put on. So I suggest using your need for work/life balance but keep it less prominent than your desire to get the job done. Ask youself what they want and figure out a way to give it to them while getting what you want.
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:40 PM   #39
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Good luck brewer. I found that I only got what I insisted on, and as long as what I insisted on showed a balance between both my personal needs and my employer's business needs I tended to be able to get what I wanted.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:49 PM   #40
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I had a casual conversation with my immediate boss and got my immediate goal, which was a break from the bulk of the travel for the rest of the year. I decided not to pursue the travel schedule for next year as a topic of conversation.
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