Sunday, November 19, 2017

Making Job Search/Recruiting & Selection More Efficient

Monica is an accomplished professional coach I met through a mutual friend.  Our paths crossed again this week at a presentation on artificial intelligence for job search. We had a few minutes to talk before the meeting, so she updated me on her current project.  Sponsored by one of the more prestigious local universities, her assignment is to make job-search/recruiting and selection more productive. When I first talked with her about this project, earlier in the year, she was beginning to frame the analysis. Now, she has an appreciation for the magnitude of her challenge. Monica suggested that we meet again later in the week for a follow-on conversation. We scheduled a meeting Thursday afternoon.

As we were settling into our conversation she told me about a rather odd luncheon meeting she just finished. She witnessed some unprofessional behavior by the attendees which indicated either cultural issues with the employer, or behavioral problems with this team. It was an interesting way to start the conversation as her encounter may have identified a part of the problem she’s working to resolve.

After that introduction, we got down to business. Monica and her colleague, Gina, began with an open-ended question to initiate my thoughts. I reminded them that my perspective is that of an executive recruiter with 20 years of experience placing senior level executives.  I began by saying that my average search takes 90 days from start to finish. For senior-level searches, it could be as much as 120 days. I explained that most of this time is managing logistics, as I typically have the ideal candidate in front of my client within 2 to 3 weeks.  The rest of the time is related to the client's internal process.

Scheduling meetings, whether by phone or in person is a monumental task. The time involved grows exponentially as more people are included in the process.  Monica's colleague asked about using electronic scheduling tools.  I told her about a current situation where a prospective search client was trying to schedule a four-person conference call. It took two weeks to agree to a time, even though we were using a scheduling tool.

My take on the issue is that competitive pressure has shrunk the workforce so dramatically that people involved in the hiring process are stressed for time and resources.   This inhibits efforts to reduce the recruiting and selection cycle. Reducing administrative overhead, in my opinion, has led to other negative attributes like poor communications among the employer recruiters, third-party executive recruiters, and the candidates.

I believe there’s a competency component in play as well. It's been my experience that most hiring managers and support staff have never had formal training to conduct an interview or to make effective hiring decisions. Again, the problem is amplified as more people become involved in the process.

Even more fundamental, employers often don’t know which skills and experience are needed. Although job descriptions are prepared for prospective employees, they often don’t capture the primary objective of the position.  Job Descriptions are usually created by a committee who may not understand the job function. If they do understand the job function,  they are unable to effectively communicate the position requirements.  "When I meet the right candidate, I will know it," is closer to the norm.  This lack of clarity adds to inefficiency.

It seems to me that employers who manage their cultures pro-actively do a better job of recruiting and selection, however, their timeframe may be longer.  They know that the cost of a bad hire is greater than the benefit of a shorter time-to-hire.  I joked with Monica that with few exceptions when my candidates inquire about a client's culture the best I can say is that it is in a state of flux. The marketplace is volatile, which makes it difficult to create a healthy, supportive culture.

I applaud Monica and Gina for taking on this project.  It is important and necessary.  In my experience, the recruiting and selection cycle time have not changed much. My view is that the time involved to recruit a new hire is symptomatic of the challenges faced by the modern company.  It was interesting that we did not discuss metrics like cost per hire, cost of turnover, or retention rates. My final thought for Monica was to think in terms of a matrix as the characteristics of the hiring decision is different for each function and level in the organization.


Thank you for visiting my blog.
Your feedback helps me continue to publish articles that you want to read.  Your input is very important to me so please leave a comment.

Jim Weber, Managing Partner







Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
Current Assignments
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company - New
2. Controller - Atlanta-based Consumer Products - Digital Company - Completed
3. Director of Biz Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company:    Completed
4. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company:  Complete
5. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Complete
6. Controller - Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New
7. Outplacement Assignment - Atlanta-based Manufacturer:  Complete







Sunday, November 12, 2017

Working With PEGS: What You Should Know

This week ended on a sour note as one of my consultants lost a contract with one of our clients.  It wasn’t his fault as the client company did not realize that their Private Equity owner had a resource to fill their need.   Unfortunately, those situations are not uncommon.  It is a fact of life in the New Normal.

As I have written so much about my work with Private Equity Groups (PEGs) and their portfolio companies it makes sense to explain what they do and how they operate.  PEGs have been reshaping American Industry across all segments.  They are significant to the job market.   It is important to understand how they manage their selection process and what they look for in new hires.  If you are not currently working in a PEG Portfolio Company, you probably will before the end of your career.


So, what is a Private Equity Group?  A PEG secures its funding from high net-worth Individuals to make investments in undervalued small to mid-cap companies.  They will generally take a controlling position in the target company up to 100% ownership.  Their goal is to improve results in a three to five-year period allowing them to sell at double their investment, more or less.   They may invest in companies with significant growth potential but having difficulty raising capital.   PEGs have been known to invest in companies whose owner wants to cash out or to buy out other investors.   Their fundamental investment goal is to find companies that can benefit from their expertise and generate a significant capital gain after a defined holding period.   PEGs are looking to grow revenues, improve productivity (read systems and processes) and eliminate waste.


Types of PEG Transactions
  •        Turnarounds
  •         Public to Private
  •         Divestitures (Carve-Outs)
  •         Family Business Exit Strategy
  •         Funding emerging brands needing capital



If the target company didn’t have a fast-paced, high-energy culture prior to the PEG involvement, it will afterward.  This is especially true early on as the two groups learn to work together.   The level of communication and thirst for data by the PEG is intense.   Redundant, unnecessary, or functions better handled by a third party are eliminated resulting in a more streamlined organization.  The remaining team members are expected to pick up the slack.   Accountability is expected.  If the CEO cannot meet his objectives he will be replaced.  So, when looking for people to hire a premium is placed on people who are self-sufficient, self-reliant, and can tolerate the stress of a high-intensity organization.   Is this that much different from most major brands?


The PEGs I have worked with are directly involved in hiring the CEO as one would expect, as well as the CFO.  Depending on the nature of the transaction, the CEO may or may not stay on after the investment, however, the CFO is usually replaced.   This is not uncommon for most acquisitions as the new owner wants “their people” in key positions.   The first task for the new CFO is usually to get control of cash flow and to install a KPI Dashboard.  Other hires are the responsibility of the Executive Team with the customary courtesy interviews by the PEG Executive responsible for oversight. 


PEGs place a high value on specialized experience when recruiting talent for their Portfolio Companies.  They do not have time or interest in on-the-job training.  They seek people with solid educational credentials, whose careers include work with respected brands.  Industry segment experience is the base-line.   If the Portfolio Company is a small to mid-cap brand then experience in a small to mid-cap company is required.   There is a preference for people whose careers are ascending.  Sure, there may be a preference for someone who is younger and hungry, however, experience and success trumps age.   A recent history of short-tenured situations is a big red flag.  As with any hiring authority, there may be certain quirks to their selection process.  One client, disqualified people who had stepped out of the corporate track to try their hand in an entrepreneurial venture; whereas other clients valued that kind of experience.   In most respects, a PEG’s selection process is similar to any other well-managed company, except for the specific experience they may require.


Thank you for visiting my blog.
Your feedback helps me continue to publish articles that you want to read.  Your input is very important to me so please leave a comment.

Jim Weber, Managing Partner







Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
Current Assignments
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company - New
2. Controller - Atlanta-based Consumer Products - Digital Company - Completed
3. Director of Biz Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company:    Completed
4. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company:  Complete
5. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Complete
6. Controller - Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New
7. Outplacement Assignment - Atlanta-based Manufacturer:  Complete




Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dealing With Rejection



Rejection hurts.  We hate it.  It's to be avoided.  But why?  Why is rejection so painful?  We've all experienced rejection in one form or another.  Consider the following situations: not being called on in class; not being chosen to play on teams; rejected for a date; rejected by college admissions; rejected by a club; not being hired for a job.  You get the idea.

Everyone endures rejection to some extent or another. It’s part of the human condition.  But, how many people have taken the time to study rejection, or more to the point, why they were rejected?  To better understand the fear of rejection, I went to YouTube to research the issue.  I was surprised to find a large amount of material on the subject.

Marissa Peer says that human beings have an intense need to be connected.  "We have a strong need for acceptance.  It is part of our genetic composition.  Affiliation with the tribe or the clan was our means of survival. Fear of rejection is about breaking the bonds we depend upon for survival. Connection equals survival.  You need the group to watch your back. That is why banishment was considered punishment worse than death." 

Of course, the kind of rejection we encounter is not so drastic.  I am thinking about rejection related to job search or finding work.  My focus on rejection is related to the risk of losing one's livelihood, a threat to our economic survival.

The fear of speaking in public is the fear of rejection.  The Stockholm syndrome is another example which demonstrates our need for affiliation.  Hostages would rather conform to their captors' values than to risk disconnection entirely. We have an intense need for acceptance, human beings are very fragile in this respect.

Jia Jang spoke to his fear of rejection affecting his career.  To understand and control this fear, he set out to experience 100 days of rejection.  His goal was to desensitize himself from the pain of rejection and overcome his fear.  He learned that the magic word is 'why'?  Asking 'why' began a dialog that improved his understanding.  If you can know why you were rejected you may come to learn that rejection isn't personal. If you were rejected for a certain situation, there is nothing preventing you from inquiring about another opportunity   Or, you could ask for a referral.  Beginning a dialog creates an opportunity to address the doubt.  Jang reminds us to "consider that people who changed the world did not let rejection define themselves. They overcame it."  His inquiry led to his book, "Beat Fear and Become Invincible."

Laurie Petrou says, "change the paradigm."  She suggests that one should aim for a goal of 100 rejections a year. "Turn the paradigm on its head,"  Ms. Petrou says, “it’s like going to the gym, work off fat and increase muscle mass.  Consider rejection as a critique, not just criticism. Don’t reject rejection, as your best work won't get better." 

"Rejection is the rungs on the ladder to success.  The more you face rejection, the better you become immunized to its effect."

I am reminded of an interview with an insurance company salesman who said he loved rejection as it put him one step closer to success.  That was back when you could use your telephone to make cold calls.  It was called 'dialing for dollars.'  Cold calling via telephone was still prevalent when I began my career as an Executive Recruiter.   It was very easy to reject the caller. Just hang up.  Cold calls are archaic, they don't work so well anymore.  In the days of caller ID and call-blocking, people don't answer the phone for unrecognized callers.  That is why we have voice mail.  But, in those days it was a numbers game.  Everyone knew that for every 10 or 20 phone calls, you could generate one viable prospect leading to a sale.  So, my interviewer knew that if he just kept calling, eventually he would talk with a viable prospect.  That paradigm got him past the pain of the rejection he had to endure.

Unless you develop a strategy to nullify the pain of rejection, success will prove to be difficult. Remember it isn’t personal.  Consider rejection a gift that you do not wish to take. No one can hurt you unless you let them.

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Your feedback helps me continue to publish articles that you want to read.  Your input is very important to me so please leave a comment.

Jim Weber, Managing Partner







Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
Current Assignments
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company - New
2. Controller - Atlanta-based Consumer Products - Digital Company - Completed
3. Director of Biz Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company:    Completed
4. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company:  Complete
5. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Complete
6. Controller - Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New
7. Outplacement Assignment - Atlanta-based Manufacturer:  Complete



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Begin With “Why”

“He who has a why can endure any how.”  Frederick Nietzche


My last post laid out the concept of putting your business plan on a single page. The rationale behind that concept is to focus the freelancers' attention to the most important issues and actions she must take to be successful in her consulting practice.  By putting your plan on a single page (POP) you create a graphic that is in your face. The very first issue I listed at the top of the POP, asks the consultant to articulate their "why."  In other words, what is your driving motivation, your passion in life that leads you to this line of work?

This concept of "why" wasn't something that I was exposed to in business school, but it became more apparent when I became an entrepreneur. More recently the concept of "why" has moved into the mainstream. A few people I have come to know via YouTube, including Simon Sinek, have done an excellent job speaking to the issue of "why."

From Wikipedia: Simon O. Sinek (born October 9, 1973) is a British/American author, motivational speaker,  and marketing consultant. [1]

He is the author of four books including the 2009 bestseller Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009). [1]   He received a BA in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University [2]

Mr. Sinek asks, “How do you explain why things go well, or not?  What is at play?
His presentation on "Why," presents the concept of The Golden Circle, which he labels as "the world's most simple idea."   Think of a target with a bulls-eye and two outer rings.  The outer ring is what you do.  The middle ring is how you do it and the bulls-eye is why you do it.  
The Golden Ring
  • What you do.
  • How you do it.
  • Why do you do it?  What is your purpose?
The heart of the target area is why you do what you do.  It is more important than what you do, or how you do what you do.  Sinek goes on to argue that "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it!"  He says that "The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.  Why comes first and then you build trust."
  • Build loyalty
  • Hire people who believe what you believe (they will give their blood, sweat, and tears.)
  • Passion, alignment, values
Renee Warren has also written on the concept of “why.”


Ms. Warren is the Co-founder of Onboardly which helps start-ups and entrepreneurial-minded companies with their digital marketing efforts.  In her March 23, 2015, article in Entrepreneur Magazine she writes that "Knowing your Why will help you stay committed and help others get on board.  "Passion is infectious."  A great story must be authentic if not dramatic. 
She goes on to say that "Entrepreneurs are looking for freedom to do what they think is best.”
“Customers like to feel they are a part of a cause.  Draw them into your cause.”
"Why drives you, hopefully, it is not money.  Unless you are 100% committed you won't have the passing/drive to make your business a success." 

“To find your why, consider what people ask you to do, or to help them with, Usually for free.  Can those things become a viable business?"

She mentions Steve Paolina, American Self-Help Author who asks, “What is my purpose in life? Keep Writing down answers until one makes you cry.”

Warren ends her article with, "Most importantly, get started doing something.”


Margie Warrell has gained unique insights into what it takes to defy the odds and lead with authority. A bestselling author and mother of four teens with a background in business and psychology, Margie is passionate about empowering leaders to engage in bigger conversations, take braver risks and make a bigger mark. 

Ms. Warrell states that “a clear sense of purpose enables you to focus your efforts on what matters most, compelling you to take risks and push forward regardless of the odds or obstacles.” “A quick glance at employee engagement statistics points to a crisis of purpose and meaning on an unprecedented level.” She suggests that to arrive at your "why," you should take stock or your talents, values, purpose, and passions.

Beginning your plan with your “why” is fundamental to your success.  It is your driving force that will keep you going when times are tough.  It is a passion which your clients can relate to and will create a bond.  Everything you do in your career as an independent consultant will be built on your “why.”  It is the foundation for the business you are building.


Thank you for visiting my blog.
Your feedback helps me continue to publish articles that you want to read.  Your input is very important to me so please leave a comment.

Jim Weber, Managing Partner







Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
Current Assignments
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company - New
2. Controller - Atlanta-based Consumer Products - Digital Company - Completed
3. Director of Biz Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company:    Completed
4. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company:  Complete
5. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Complete
6. Controller - Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New
7. Outplacement Assignment - Atlanta-based Manufacturer:  Complete












Inserted: ,

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Put Your Plan On One Page!

I am writing a Freelancers Handbook to help our new consultants become effective, faster.  It is an interesting and important project.  Currently, I am focused on the Chapter about planning.   Most of our consultants are experienced freelancers with more than ten years of experience, and vast experience with business planning.  They probably won't benefit much from this chapter.  On the other hand, many of our consultants will find this subject interesting.  Those folks are accomplished senior executives; however, they are new to self-employment as an independent consultant.  My audience is that new consultant.  They have a voracious appetite for tools and techniques to help them translate their corporate experience to this new endeavor.  My challenge is to provide a no-bullshit tool which they will use.
 
Early in my career, I worked in the Retail Group of a $1 Billion conglomerate.  I helped the Division Presidents and their staffs with the annual strategic planning process, among other things. I became very impressed by one of our divisions which put their plan on a single 8 1/2 x 11-inch piece of paper, using the same format as an organization chart.  The box at the center top of the page was the brand's mission statement.  The next level presented their primary objectives.  Their strategies to meet those objectives were on the next level with lines connecting strategies to the objectives they supported.  Finally, key action steps were listed below each strategy.
 
I thought that was brilliant.  It was a valuable tool allowing management to see the entire Division Plan on a single sheet of paper.  Since that first variation many years ago, the process of putting a business plan on a single page has become commonplace.  A simple Google Search for "Plan on a Page," (POP) will yield a substantial list of web-based tools to automate the process.  Now, 30 years later, I am working to develop a POP format to help my new business consultants jump-start their business development. 
 
I recommend that the first item our consultants tackle is their "why."  In other words, why have they chosen this line of work?  What is their personal motivation to become a freelance consultant?  What is their passion? What drives them to do this kind of work?  It is difficult to have a successful business proposition if you can’t articulate your reason to be in business.  This is the first item at the top of my POP.
 
The second step in my POP is to make the consultant position their business. This is similar to a Mission statement captured in the traditional business planning model. The three questions the consultant must answer are: what is the target customer group/industry segment?  What is the problem to be solved? And, what is the methodology, or technology employed to solve the problem?  Again, this process is fundamental to any strategic plan.  It is the consultant's roadmap, providing direction to focus their business development.  With a positioning statement, one can develop a communications plan, beginning with an effective elevator pitch.
 
That next step asks for the consultant's "entry proposition."  Consider this to be the primary tactic the consultant will employ to secure a prospective client. In many cases, our consultants conduct a short-term strategic assessment, risk assessment, or another type of an evaluation to determine exposure to unforeseen issues.  An entry proposition is a viable way to build a relationship on a smaller, less costly project.  Ideally, this project will foster trust and confidence, leading to larger, future assignments and a long-term relationship.
 
The balance of the plan is about marketing outreach.  I created a table with the following column headers:  Outreach Type; When; How; and Frequency.   The Outreach Type or networking activities include the consultant's personal network, their electronic network, and their target market. I also included Target Market, Social Media, and organizational memberships.    The next three columns require the consultant to indicate when, how, and how often he will contact each.
 
The obvious benefits of having a POP is to focus the consultant's attention on activities to land an engagement.  This focus will improve their organization, time management, and effectiveness. Another major benefit of a POP is to serve as a daily reminder of the consultant's priorities.  I highly recommend that small-business owners and independent contractors make the effort to put their business plan on a single page.
 
 
 
Thank you for visiting my blog.
Your feedback helps me continue to publish articles that you want to read.  Your input is very important to me so please leave a comment.

Jim Weber, Managing Partner







Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
Current Assignments
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company - New
2. Controller - Atlanta-based Consumer Products - Digital Company - Completed
3. Director of Biz Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company:    Completed
4. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company:  Complete
5. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Complete
6. Controller - Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New


7. Outplacement Assignment - Atlanta-based Manufacturer:  Complete

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Make Your Exit With Style: Part II

My last post was about Joanne’s exit plan.  After 25 years with her one and only employer, she has decided to leave the company.  She has never resigned from a company before.  The stakes are high and the environment is problematic.  The thought of giving her resignation creates a sense of dread.  That post ended with Joanne’s commitment to a plan of action.

In the next few weeks, Joanne went to work on her plan.  The strategy we formulated was to separate the formal resignation from the severance discussion.  Her first task was to draft a resignation letter.  Before doing so, she sent me an email that outlined the requirements for voluntary termination pursuant to her employment agreement.  Her objective was to make her termination date coincide, to some extent, with her 25th anniversary.  She was reluctant to provide a firm date, however, as she was unclear as to the effective date for her incentive compensation.  And, she did not want to create suspicion by asking too many questions to confirm those dates.  We agreed that she should leave the official date, “to be determined” subject to the eligibility dates for her incentive program.

A few days later, I received her draft resignation letter.  It was an excellent product, short and to the point.  She told her employer that after 25 years with the company she felt the need to do something different.  She expressed gratitude for her success and professional development. She made a commitment to exit within the terms of her employment agreement.  She incorporated the advice she had received, making the document complementary to leadership. It was positive, aligned with the firm’s core values.

Joanne’s next task was to prepare her Transition plan. The first part of that document was mostly administrative.  She gave the required 90-days-notice. She committed to work through her notice period and to provide support and consulting services after her official termination date.  She agreed to help transfer her responsibilities to other members of the team and to provide further support as needed. Additionally, she offered to be available for additional time, up to six months, to help her employer with other relevant issues.

The second part of her transition plan was to lay out her financial requirements.  It was a detailed list of requests related to compensation and equity issues. I provided feedback to the extent I could and suggested that she seek advice from others for issues beyond my expertise.  Most of her terms were basic, covered by her employment agreement.  Some were to ensure that she received compensation earned in FY 2017, but payable in 2018.  Not a big deal.  Some of her requests were aggressive, like asking for a 12-month continuation of salary and professional outplacement services.  I advised her that those demands are beyond the norm for a voluntary termination, which she must factor into her negotiating strategy.

I saw Joanne again this week.  She briefed me on her progress since giving her resignation, which she said went well.  It was agreed that she could tell other members of the firm individually.   She added that her Psychologist has been very helpful.  They have been role-playing, with at least one role reversal session.  Currently, the partners are reviewing the terms of her proposal. The plan is to reconvene in the next few weeks to finalize an agreement.

Recognizing that some of her requirements are beyond the scope of her employment agreement, she asked how to justify her position.  I suggested that she become an Ambassador for the company. When she leaves, there is no guarantee that her clients will stay with the firm. She could help ensure they do and send new business to the firm.  The company’s downside risk would be clear, without the need for an overt threat.

This is a unique situation, at least for Joanne.  The story is not yet complete, but her confidence has improved dramatically.  If you are facing an unfamiliar situation it helps to have a plan.  Begin with a complete understanding of the situation.  Seek professional help if needed.  Talk to people with experience in the matter.  Be clear about your ideal outcome.  Evaluate different scenarios and role play.  Joanne’s confidence increased with the completion of each step of the process we created.  The more effort you put into planning for the event, the greater the likelihood you will achieve your desired outcome.


Thank you for visiting my blog.
Your feedback helps me continue to publish articles that you want to read.  Your input is very important to me so please leave a comment.

Jim Weber, Managing Partner
ITB Partners
Jim.Weber@itbpartners.com

Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal


Current Assignments
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company - New
2. Controller - Atlanta-based Consumer Products - Digital Company - Completed
3. Director of Biz Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company:    Completed
4. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company:  Complete
5. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Complete
6. Controller - Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New

7. Outplacement Assignment - Atlanta-based Manufacturer:  Complete

Monday, October 9, 2017

Make Your Exit With Style!

Last Month, I was engaged by a friend to help her leave her employer of 25 years. It all began with a cryptic text message asking to schedule a phone call. Joanne and her husband, Mike are friends and great networking contacts. Of course, I told her that I would talk with her. After a few more exchanges we agreed to talk Monday, after business hours.

At the appointed time I answered the phone, and we engaged in some small-talk. Eventually, we got down to business. Joanne said that she has decided to leave her employer and make a career change. No surprise so far. Although I did not expect this revelation, I spend most of my time talking to folks in transition or looking to make a career change. It is what I do. She said that she is committed to her decision but, she is not comfortable telling her employer. That was a surprise, so she had my full attention. She admitted that she needs a plan and confidence to execute that plan. Given this overview, she asked if I would be willing to discuss her situation in greater depth. We confirmed for Friday at Seasons 52.

During lunch, Joanne presented her situation. She is a financial adviser with a minority share in the company. She has invested her entire career with this firm. She has done well financially but doesn’t feel valued. She is chagrined that she has not been invited to help chart the firm’s direction. She described the principals as poor leaders. It is not a pleasant work environment, almost toxic. Recently, the organization has experienced an unusual amount of turnover, including a trusted manager. This instability will burden her workload and responsibilities, creating further anxiety. Joanne views this as the optimal time to leave.

She wants to get out of the field entirely, to do something different. She isn’t sure about her next career move, but she knows it’s time to leave this situation. Making an effective exit is her primary objective. However, she has never resigned from a job, and the stakes are rather high. She is unclear as to the process and ideal protocol. She is concerned that senior management will react poorly. She fears an ugly confrontation which may compromise her financial goals. She lacks experience and therefore confidence. But, she is a professional. She is beginning to craft a plan.

When she concluded the background information, the conversation turned to process. She is subject to a management contract with provisions for voluntary termination. She asked how much explanation was required. Should she talk about her displeasure working for the company? Should she reveal her disappointment that after 25 years she has little say in the firm’s direction? When should she discuss terms of her separation? When should she give notice?

My advice was to exit the company as the professional I know her to be. Stay focused on her desired financial outcome. I told her that she is not required to share her rationale for leaving. Just tell them that she has decided to take her career in a different direction. Be positive about her time with the company. Express gratitude for her success and professional development. Don’t say anything that would put management on the defensive. Keep the conversation friendly and positive. Offer to help with the transition, to be available for an extended period, to be determined. I impressed on her that her resignation is the beginning of the negotiation for her severance package.

Joanne agreed to complete the following action items.

1. Itemize her terms, including compensation due
2. Talk with other trusted advisors to gain their advice
3. Draft a letter of Resignation
4. Consider role-playing

By the time we finished our lunch, I could tell that Joanne was more confident. She saw the
logic in my strategy and believed she could make it work. She had clear direction as to next
steps. She had begun taking control. I am looking forward to our next discussion in this
matter. I know it will be interesting.

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Your feedback helps me continue to publish articles that you want to read.  Your input is very important to me so please leave a comment.

Jim Weber, Managing Partner







Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
Current Assignments
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company - New
2. Controller - Atlanta-based Consumer Products - Digital Company - Completed
3. Director of Biz Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company:    Completed
4. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company:  Complete
5. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Complete
6. Controller - Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New

7. Outplacement Assignment - Atlanta-based Manufacturer:  Complete