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Any luck pushing back?
Old 08-19-2012, 06:47 PM   #1
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Any luck pushing back?

I am getting readi=y to give a stiff arm to my employer and I am wondering if anyone has done so with success and could offer advice. My business travel has reached the level where it is impacting my family and I am not interested in doing more. In the past, I have generally taken the mercenary view that I will fight for the highest payer and I know where the door is if I don't like the situation. However, this organization has a culture of very long tenured employees who frequently voice their opinions to management. I am planning on having a one on one with my direct manager and explaining that I am done taking one for the team and need to reduce my travel because it is negatively affecting my family. Any suggestions on how to do this? I'd like to stay tilthe end of next year when I vest in certain goodies, but my alternative is to walk to the next gig.
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Old 08-19-2012, 07:15 PM   #2
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. . . I am done taking one for the team . . .
FWIW, the section above caught my attention. Have you already discussed your desire to cut back on travel? You certainly know the situation better than any of us, but if this is a "first heard" for your manager I'd think it best to go in with a tempered approach.
. . . the travel schedule is quite a bit more than I'd anticipated . . . the travel is necessary, but (business rationale for spreading the pain) . . . I'd have no problem being gone xx days at a stretch, and xx days in a year, but the current schedule is one that is adversely affecting my family . . . I'd like to give this to you to work and plan to meet again next week to see how we can reduce my time on the road. etc etc

Advise him/her of the problem, give him/her a business reason (in addition to your personal situation--if possible) for changing things, let him/her know what you think would be reasonable, and don't make it an ultimatum or press for an immediate response--but do get a date/window for the meeting where you'll resolve it. Since you're not a burger flipper, it's probably going to take the boss a while to come up with the best solution, especially if it involves interdepartmental coordination.

My $.02, and probably worth less than that.
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Old 08-19-2012, 07:44 PM   #3
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+1 to samclem. If you haven't brought it up before, don't assume they would know you're reaching your point. I don't think I could put it better than he did.

Of course if you meet resistance, you may have to go with the ultimatum route, but don't start off that way.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:29 PM   #4
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Not sure if I have any advice but I was in the same spot. I told them that I didn't want to travel anymore other than an occasional trip and proposed that I go to part-time with limited travel. It worked out fine for five years - and then I decided that I had had enough.

I guess what helped is that all along they implicitly knew that I was FI and could walk anytime I wanted to and I had some skills that they wanted to keep and were profitable to them so it was in our mutual interest to be flexible and work with each other.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:41 PM   #5
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FWIW, the section above caught my attention. Have you already discussed your desire to cut back on travel? You certainly know the situation better than any of us, but if this is a "first heard" for your manager I'd think it best to go in with a tempered approach.
. . . the travel schedule is quite a bit more than I'd anticipated . . . the travel is necessary, but (business rationale for spreading the pain) . . . I'd have no problem being gone xx days at a stretch, and xx days in a year, but the current schedule is one that is adversely affecting my family . . . I'd like to give this to you to work and plan to meet again next week to see how we can reduce my time on the road. etc etc

Advise him/her of the problem, give him/her a business reason (in addition to your personal situation--if possible) for changing things, let him/her know what you think would be reasonable, and don't make it an ultimatum or press for an immediate response--but do get a date/window for the meeting where you'll resolve it. Since you're not a burger flipper, it's probably going to take the boss a while to come up with the best solution, especially if it involves interdepartmental coordination.

My $.02, and probably worth less than that.
+2

Just gently point out that the current travel requriements are not sustainable and ask for them to be reduced or more evenly spread around. You could also let you other colleagues know that you are doing too much travel and need to cut back.

I've had way too much travel myself over the last 18 months and it has had an impact but I managed to make it good with DW by paying for her to come with me a couple of times and, like yourself, I also know that it isn't for much longer.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:58 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:21 PM   #7
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I had this issue this year and assumed that management didn't know because they were too busy with all their stuff. Turned out to be the case and I had my workload aligned.
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:36 PM   #8
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Is the travel % within the range discussed during the interview?

If it's more than you want, mention before the next booking that you just returned from place X and Y, we need to address some personal items, so let's schedule that travel next month. I then would offer having conference calls or video conferences to keep thing moving. YMMV Good luck.
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:43 PM   #9
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Is the travel % within the range discussed during the interview?

If it's more than you want, mention before the next booking that you just returned from place X and Y, we need to address some personal items, so let's schedule that travel next month. I then would offer having conference calls or video conferences to keep thing moving. YMMV Good luck.
I don't remember what stated travel was and at this point I do not care. I don't have a contract so everything is negotiable. Either we work it out to mutual satisfaction or not.

Realistically the job can now be done with less of my physical presence. The challenge is to get whet I want out of a do as you are told culture.
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:51 PM   #10
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you might get a little more catered to (and sympathy) if there was some kind of health condition involved that you could mention, either on your part, or the part of someone in your family
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:55 PM   #11
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snip ....I want out of a do as you are told culture.

Yup, I left that scenario/culture 3 months ago and joined the contracting world. So far, so good and no travel, but potential trip in Oct. I can handle one trip in say 5 months.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:10 PM   #12
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you might get a little more catered to (and sympathy) if there was some kind of health condition involved that you could mention, either on your part, or the part of someone in your family
Fortunately, that is not the case. Just my 8 year old crying over the phone because I have been away so much.

I have a unique collection of skills that they need and probably cannot replace at any price (not that they pay well or even market level), so I am hoping they get the idea.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:52 PM   #13
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In the past, I have generally taken the mercenary view that I will fight for the highest payer and I know where the door is if I don't like the situation. However, this organization has a culture of very long tenured employees who frequently voice their opinions to management. I am planning on having a one on one with my direct manager and explaining that I am done taking one for the team and need to reduce my travel because it is negatively affecting my family. Any suggestions on how to do this?
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If you haven't brought it up before, don't assume they would know you're reaching your point.
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FWIW, the section above caught my attention. Have you already discussed your desire to cut back on travel? You certainly know the situation better than any of us, but if this is a "first heard" for your manager I'd think it best to go in with a tempered approach.
. . . the travel schedule is quite a bit more than I'd anticipated . . . the travel is necessary, but (business rationale for spreading the pain) . . . I'd have no problem being gone xx days at a stretch, and xx days in a year, but the current schedule is one that is adversely affecting my family . . . I'd like to give this to you to work and plan to meet again next week to see how we can reduce my time on the road. etc etc
Advise him/her of the problem, give him/her a business reason (in addition to your personal situation--if possible) for changing things, let him/her know what you think would be reasonable, and don't make it an ultimatum or press for an immediate response--but do get a date/window for the meeting where you'll resolve it. Since you're not a burger flipper, it's probably going to take the boss a while to come up with the best solution, especially if it involves interdepartmental coordination.
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The challenge is to get whet I want out of a do as you are told culture.
You might have some cultural education to do here. For example, it's all too easy to believe that your boss is totally oblivious to your feelings about travel. If your boss is a "do as you're told" type type then they may not even care. Your veiled hints (or not so veiled hints) may have been filed under the heading of "Sailors are only happy when they're bitching". The boss may also have made the implicit assumption that you don't know how to (or don't want to) get another job and that you're hostage to the paycheck. Is that what the rest of the workers are like?

Does your boss have a family/kids who they care about? Can you tell stories about missing school events or sports weekends or family vacation time? Is there any common ground between you two as humans, or is it strictly a boss/subordinate relationship?

You probably can't walk into the boss' office and tell them how you used to do it in Noo Yawk City. But you might point out that you've been doing way more than your fair share of travel and you'd like to give someone else the opportunity before your kids forget what you look like. Then you could point out that you've made a lot of employment contacts in the Denver area through your network, and that if this much travel is required in your current job then you may need to explore alternatives. You could even share that the cost of living in Denver is a lot lower than you expected and you're financially independent, so maybe this is a good time to consider early retirement.

Can you offer a solution along with the problem description? Is there someone else in the office who'd like to do more travel? Is there someone who could take over your job, giving you a lateral move to something with less travel? Is there someone you could offer to train for the travel job so that they could take it over in October?

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Fortunately, that is not the case. Just my 8 year old crying over the phone because I have been away so much.
FWIW we went through a couple years of that, and it was harder on us parents than on her. Today (19 years old) she doesn't even really remember it, and she doesn't know why it was such a big deal back then.

But still it's good to be with them at this age, because by the time they're 11 years old they'll stop talking to you until they leave for college...
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Old 08-19-2012, 11:25 PM   #14
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The boss and I have a rapport and he has a family. I can't walk into his office easily, as his office is 500 miles away from mine. I think he has been hearing an increasing level of grousing from the troops (for a variety of reasons), but I generally have not been vocal. I am the new guy and there has been work to be done, so I have been busy doing the work. Mission is just about accomplished, so I am done with grinning and bearing it.

I am hoping I don't have to get graphic about illustrating my willingness and ability to walk out the door. I will try to figure out a way to get the message across indirectly, but even a hazy recollection of the resume I showed them should make the point: I have never stayed anywhere as long as 4 years.

There are lots of realistic business solutions and I am willing to still do some travel. But the department has dysfunctional stafing/organization and they have a thin bench, no succession plan in evidence, and a deaf ear to suggestions to improve things (I pitched a way to train up understudies at minimal cost and disruption in December and heard nothing further). So we will see how much flexibility the powers that be can find.
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Old 08-20-2012, 12:55 AM   #15
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The boss and I have a rapport and he has a family. I can't walk into his office easily, as his office is 500 miles away from mine.
So you have to go on travel just to see your boss? Crap.

Sounds like you have an education issue before you can even start talking about your solution and your plans to implement it. Hopefully your boss understands that he can lead, follow, or get the heck outta the way.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:38 AM   #16
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There are lots of realistic business solutions and I am willing to still do some travel. But the department has dysfunctional stafing/organization and they have a thin bench, no succession plan in evidence, and a deaf ear to suggestions to improve things (I pitched a way to train up understudies at minimal cost and disruption in December and heard nothing further). So we will see how much flexibility the powers that be can find.
Dysfunctional is a red flag, so is it really worth the effort to remain with the firm? Just asking, I'm sure you've already pondered that.

Can video conferencing be substituted for some/any of the travel? Is travel delegation an option? Say remotely supervising some eager beaver that is in to the road warrior thing but perhaps needs some (remote) hand holding? How much travel is actually essential versus the culture of "being there/face time." Again, just asking.

It might just come down to how much rapport you have with management. Why not have the heart to heart talk and let management know that you simply need more time at home. If it were me, I'd be vague about walking. I'd make it clear that I was unwilling to be away from home but steer away from ultimatums. Plant a subtle question mark in their collective minds that you just might walk and see if management suddenly wants to play ball and revise your schedule. From your post, I feel that you are ready to walk but wish to spare the family another move.

Best of luck to you and -for what its worth- I agree with you motives. Your eight year old is only that age once. As Nords succintly pointed out, the window of communication closes ever so quickly.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:51 AM   #17
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I am hoping I don't have to get graphic about illustrating my willingness and ability to walk out the door. I will try to figure out a way to get the message across indirectly, but even a hazy recollection of the resume I showed them should make the point: I have never stayed anywhere as long as 4 years.
I always preferred the soft, direct approach. Direct as in "too much travel is taking a heavy toll on my family life", and soft as in "do you think we can work together to reduce it" or "can you help me get it back to a tolerable level."

Face to face has a better chance of success, it is easy to say no on the phone.
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Old 08-20-2012, 07:26 AM   #18
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I just skimmed the thread so I may have missed some nuances but you sounded a bit hostile to me. You describe the firm as a place where most stay for a long time and state you have a rapport with your manager. But you talk about walking, etc as if this place treated you like dirt. If you like the place say so in your discussion but explain that you are feeling the impact of the travel and need a change. Make it a positive discussion about working out a relationship with a firm you like not a set of demands.
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Old 08-20-2012, 08:12 AM   #19
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When I was a boss, I used to try to spread the pain of travel, in a sense of fairness. But, I realized that some people didn't mind it as much, if at all and for others it was a real inconvenience, especially younger moms. If others agreed, I'd give them some of the reluctant travelers' assignments. If not, I'd try to work out other options, but in the end the work needed to get done.

For sure, have an friendly but honest discussion with your boss and see how much flexibility there is. You may be pleasantly surprised and if not, you have thought through your options.

Ironically, despite my moniker, I hated business travel.
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Old 08-20-2012, 08:33 AM   #20
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Leave. Look for work at another company. Be more selective next time.

You are already too angry and frustrated to try and resolve this situation. You see your employer as inflexible and dysfunctional.

Continue to stay and it will affect your family.

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