Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spending time with your boss can increase your salary more than excellent performance

At my job as sales manager I was quite happy for the first three years. I managed to persuade my second boss to be paid a percentage of sales and I managed to increase the sales each year by more than 100%. Everyone was motivated and I was able to build a small and efficient team. In three years I had, together with my team, profitably increased sales from 20 000 € a month to 120 000 € a month.

We had a great mentor in Slovenia and our new boss in Slovakia was a miracle. At least for the first year, he was the perfect manager and a leader. I admired him and wanted to be like him. He was young, ambitious, competent and efficient. The right person in the right place. Everything looked great for more than a year.

Then he added one person to my team without my approval. It was done because our super boss did not have the heart or balls to fire her. She was not the right person for the job. She never wanted the job and she lacked the needed skills. She took the job just because she did not want to leave the company. I reported her lack of ability and motivation multiple times and asked my boss to let me fire her, but I was refused.

In the end, after few months he agreed, but my department lost the potential sales during that time.
Days were passing and our boss had changed completely after his year and a half at the company. He was my fourth boss at that company as none of them lasted very long. He stopped coming to the meetings on time or stopped coming at all. He stopped replying to e-mails, and our work was blocked because we were waiting for his approvals. He was breaking his promises and we began to make fun of him behind his back.

He never explained this change, but we thought that the company system broke his will and he realized he was just a puppet in his boss’s hands. What triggered me to give up that job was lack of respect and my boss's time management. That day we agreed on meeting at 10:00, but he had no time, so he told me that he would call me later. I understood that he had more important tasks to do, but I didn’t understand why was he not able to cancel or re-schedule our meeting if he had no time for it. I asked him more than three times if I should wait, or if we should change the date of the meeting. I always got the response to wait.

So I waited until two o’clock and then left for a lunch. At 16:30 I was given a call to meet him and my consultant from Hungary. Because I had to leave at five p.m., I told them we would have to finish by that time. Of course we did not. It was because my boss had lots of detailed questions. At five I told them that I had to leave. My proposal was refused of course, and I was told to stay. I had to leave as I was teaching at 17:30 at university, so I told my boss that I am sorry, but he is four and half hours late for this meeting and I can't stay, because I have a meeting where 24 people would be waiting for me and they would come on time.

I still consider it a good decision and I would do it again. Being 4.5 hours late without saying he was sorry and understanding that I couldn’t wait that long for him and couldn’t change all my other responsibilities just because he was late. What he did is quite rude in my eyes.

I was told to stay, but I left. My Hungarian consultant apologized to me the next day by e-mail, but it was not his fault. My students came on time and we had our class. It was one of my hardest decisions in my life, but I have never regretted it. Actually I am proud of the fact that even if I knew it will be harmful to my career, I did what was the right thing to do.

I was given another guy to my team, but it was a strange situation because he reported directly to my boss and not to me. As I had no decision rights over him I told my boss that I do not accept responsibility for this guy's results. Responsibility goes in hand with control. One does not work well without the other. The guy spent half of his time in the boss's office and his productivity was  extremely low.

An example of his results is that he spent two weeks arranging a 50% discount on advertising on one
well known website called azet.sk. He came back to the office as a champion because of this result and wanted to be treated as hero. What he considered to be an extraordinary result, I considered it to be under performance.

I had done the same deal one year before in two hours and I also received free lunch from the sales manager of that website. The morale in my team grew bad as this new guy earned more than any one
of us did and he refused his tasks by simply saying that he did not know how to do it. He was not sharing the team workload, he had benefits we were not allowed to have and still earned more than we did. As the hostility between my boss and me grew the situation got tense. My bonus system was only written in e-mail and not updated to the contract for three years so it was possible to stop paying my bonus percentage from money which I earned the company. And this is exactly what happened.

Our bonuses were paid every three months and without being told anything, I received one fifth of what I was supposed to receive in my bank account. I thought it is just an accident because I delivered very satisfying results to the company and the sales grew as they should. I spoke with my boss and he told me that I would not get the money because he was not satisfied with my work.

Later I was told that part of my money was given to the new guy. I did not care about the arguing that he had new baby and a wife to finance. This meant it is not as important what results you deliver to company you work for, but how much time do you spend in your boss's office asking him for a pay raise in that company.

I was very angry and tried to get that money for three months. I got something back but I made the decision that nobody would “steal” my money without being punished. Then I spoke with one of my colleagues about options of how to monetize our knowledge and we decided to start our own company.

Lesson learned: If your agreement is not written in a legal contract, the other
party does not have to fulfill its obligations. It does not have to be fulfilled even if it is
written as I learned later, but your chances are better if it is written and signed.
Until you have your money in your pocket, they are just a promise.

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