Author Topic: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?  (Read 4768 times)

Bearded Man

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Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« on: November 13, 2015, 08:50:45 AM »
I'll try to keep this as short as possible.

Background:

-Work in IT.
-MBA candidate, about a year to go.
-Work from home at my own discretion. Saves time, money, and some less stress than being in cramped office I share with others.
-With org that is rapidly degrading (CEO let go, facing criminal charges, and super high turnover, almost entirely now interim management across the organization in nearly every senior role. Org has shrunk by about 40% over 2 years and seems to keep shrinking).
-150K salary, easily 25K above market for my area (unless you factor in that I'm a lead, but even then considerably still higher than usual). The guy who made me the offer made sure I was tied down...
-Not that much work, at least right now, but it's up and down, sometimes crazy. We are getting another helper so that should help take some of the strain off me. But the BS below will remain...
-I'm a contractor, on W2 working for consulting company on client account.

Situation:

-Where I work is a large bureaucracy, where BS and incompetence reign. Basically it is PM/Admin staff oriented rather than Engineer oriented. I've worked in an organization like this before and it was hell. The entire team turned over very quickly. The org is now struggling. I see a lot of the same signs here. I'm working on a project that is way behind, because the three PM's I'm working with have no idea what they are doing. I am the only technical resource on the project. Each of them was an admin assistant and was literally promoted into a PM role. They have literally been promoted to their level of incompetence. They were good admin assistants, but are piss poor PM's.

-These three stooges literally make up stuff to do. They just make up requirements. Today I will be working on change requests 800-900....I say that in jest but it is probably not far off. I've talked to them about it, but it continues, they just have no idea what they are doing.

-The strain of dealing with these idiots is affecting my health. At the same time, I know some level of idiocy will exist elsewhere, but it still makes me want to leave. For some reason changing jobs, especially with a break in between, helps heal the wounds for a while. But chances are it will be more of the same elsewhere. Maybe not as bad, and maybe not right away, but sooner or later, it seems people who cannot do anything else bypass engineering and go right into support roles.

-The work from home status and pay make it tough to leave, especially knowing that a similar situation is likely to be waiting for me somewhere else, and I'd be starting over...

-As a result, I see three options. Two of them will involve a pay cut and having to go back into an office, and in reality, this job with the pay and WFH won't last forever, so I will eventually have to move on anyway. The other option is to milk this job and do it half assed for the next year, while finishing school and working on my resume and certs for management positions. I got ITIL, and a PM cert, will look for others. I'm not sure staying here longer will be good for me mentally and health wise. I stayed at a job like this before and it killed me inside a little bit.

-I don't think I want to stomach more of the same elsewhere, especially having to go into the office and for less money, which is most likely what would happen if I stayed technical.

-I would be on the receiving end of the stupid again, since it seems in IT, the most skilled will end up working for the least skilled, and as a result, our lives will be hell. So I think the solution is to change positions entirely when I change jobs, by going into management. I am king of process improvement.

-What I think is best to do is go back into management. It's been a while since I've been, but when I apply, I get interview and when I interview, I get offers.

-It's been my plan since I first started posting almost three years ago, to go into management to save my sanity. Yes, there is other BS, but not like this, where you are the most skilled person working for the least skilled persons, and their incompetence makes your job harder.

-Now that I write this, I realize that THREE YEARS has passed and I still have not made the change and gone back to management. I interviewed, got offers, some with a pay increase (but the company reviews on glassdoor.com were just AWFUL) and some with a huge pay decrease and a blend of hands on and management (worst). I never accepted any of them. I think partly because of fear of leaving what was at the time, a good thing. Good pay, for little work, and good commute with lots of time off, for something that looked even worse after vetting. Plus it was helping pad my portfolio, so I figured if it aint broken don't fix it, stack your chips for a rainy decade.

-I'm not sure what to do. As quickly as I rose through the technical ranks, I also rose through the management ranks before. Now with more experience and education, it should be 1-2 or 3 years before I get my income back up to a similar level if I do switch to management.

-I would view a six figure management job that I like as worth the pay cut and having to go into the office. While I would likely take a cut of 40-50K, I think if I look long enough, I can make a switch and still stay in the six figure range until I build back up in management and get higher offers for that.

Thoughts? Should I focus on making the switch after the holidays or ride this out until it ends? I've never been fired so I'm not sure about the whole engineering your layoff thing. Would be nice, but there is the opportunity cost of not being able to save money while on unemployment.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 09:00:36 AM by Bearded Man »

matchewed

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2015, 09:04:35 AM »
Well sounds like you know what makes you unhappy, have some guesses as to what may make you happy, so the answer seems a bit obvious?

Ask yourself if a shitty job is worth the money? Personally for me the answer is no.

One of the advantages of being a part of this community is developing resilience and understanding that you craft the life you want. So go craft it.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2015, 09:08:28 AM »
Life's too short to go to a job you hate for a mere 20% above what you think the market rate is for your skills. Who knows, you could interview other places and they'll offer you a raise!

Bearded Man

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2015, 09:13:08 AM »
Let me add that I really dislike being told what to do, especially by people who are incompetent or less skilled. This is ultimately my pain point with my current role.

When I was a manager, I was good at it. I made solid financial and technical decisions, leaning on my subject matter experts, deferring to them, etc. I was really good at it. I was telling people what to do.

Now, even though I am the one that knows what to do, I'm the one being told what to do, by people who have no clue. For what? More money...lol Not sure if it is worth it.

I know that even though I would take a pay cut for now if I switched, I will build back up. I found companies in the area that pay 190k for Senior Directors with my skills. I just need to build the management resume back up and work up to that.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2015, 09:24:12 AM »
Don't forget about the taxes you are probably paying on that extra $25k.  Probably 30%+

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2015, 09:58:44 AM »
Hello fellow bearded IT guy.

I WFH and make $98k.

I started on site, got lucky as fuck and was able to switch to WFH. So did some of my coworkers.

Some of them were asked to start coming back onsite, I'm assuming for performance issues but I really don't know?

If they were to ever ask me to return onsite, I believe I would counter with asking for a pay reduction so I could stay WFH.

If I were in your situation and with that salary, I'd personally just deal with it over taking a paycut and going onsite at a different job.

That's my two cents, spend it how you'd like.

Uturn

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2015, 10:01:15 AM »
All jobs have something that sucks.  It all depends on why type of suck and how much you are willing to handle.  Everyone is different.  I have a good friend who is not dumb, but hates to be the decision maker.  Management is not for him.  I cannot do repetitive tasks, assembly line is not for me.  It also depends on what you want to do.  Personally, I just left a management role to go back to technical, because I was tired of the BS.  You see the BS at the technical level, but not management.  Therefore, management might be your gig.

A few things to keep in mind
* don't ever let money keep you somewhere you don't want to be.  At your range, 10-20% swing isn't going to change your life. 
* the company/pay/benefits/co-workers is not where job security comes from.  It comes from your skill and work ethic.
* sometimes the job really is to stroke egos and manage stupid.  Don't complain at work, just stroke the ego, manage the stupid, and put some cash in your pocket. 
* I don't view my job/career as the goal, I view it as a means to reach the goal.  This sometimes helps to deal with what I don't want to.

Bearded Man

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2015, 10:13:42 AM »
Don't forget about the taxes you are probably paying on that extra $25k.  Probably 30%+

Funny thing is I wanted to add taxes as a talking point. Even if I do take a pay cut, I will still get 8K+ a year of my money back in taxes. I don't qualify for an IRA at my income. My company also considers me a Highly Compensated Employee using the IRS standard. As a result, they contribute nothing to my 401K. Also, I own rental properties. At 100K salary the deductions begin to phase out, and at 150K, they are gone.

So basically, while I would take a pay cut, I would be able to keep more of my money.

Oh, and let the record show, no matter where I search (considering relocating in retirement), for whatever reason, there are waaay more high paying management jobs than my specialty. Although I'm sure the supply of managers is higher, I like my odds since I have certs, experience and education many don't. Lot's of IT managers with no IT experience out there...


squeakywheel

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2015, 10:24:22 AM »
Hi OP, I am in a similar position. Company going to pieces, I am in a somewhat-unnoticed corner, making >$150K in an IT job but very disengaged (which is much in contrast to my previous attitude prior to the company imploding). I recently was offered a choice of layoff package and chose to stay instead. Why?

1. What have I got to lose? No one bothers me, I WFH as much as I want to, I take as much time off as I want to. Actual hours worked are <4 per day, although I tend to check in every hour or two just in case.
2. What I really want to do is go travel with my DH, but I can't since still have kids in school at home and I would like them to finish school (I am not cut out to home school).
3. Can't see any reason to voluntarily switch to a job where I would have to commute to the office, plus learn a whole new set of people, policies, etc., work much harder, and maybe end up in a company that is just as screwed up as the one I left.

So I decided to just kick back, do as little as possible, and see what happens. So far, the answer is, nothing. The paychecks keep coming in. I am working to channel the energy and engagement that I used to put into my work into outside interests instead. At some point, if people are unhappy with me, then maybe I would consider leaving? Although, very likely that they would lay me off instead of firing me. But for now, I see no reason to stop these paychecks coming in. Yes, it has been somewhat difficult to keep the stupid stuff from bothering me, but overall, I absolutely think I made the right decision.

TLDR: It's a question of if you can get yourself into that different mindset or not. Can you get yourself to the point where the "idiots" don't really bother you, that you just can chuckle and move on? No one can answer that for you. Certainly it is not worth staying if you are letting it "kill you inside a little bit"--NOT WORTH IT.

Bearded Man

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2015, 10:57:18 AM »
Hi OP, I am in a similar position. Company going to pieces, I am in a somewhat-unnoticed corner, making >$150K in an IT job but very disengaged (which is much in contrast to my previous attitude prior to the company imploding). I recently was offered a choice of layoff package and chose to stay instead. Why?

1. What have I got to lose? No one bothers me, I WFH as much as I want to, I take as much time off as I want to. Actual hours worked are <4 per day, although I tend to check in every hour or two just in case.
2. What I really want to do is go travel with my DH, but I can't since still have kids in school at home and I would like them to finish school (I am not cut out to home school).
3. Can't see any reason to voluntarily switch to a job where I would have to commute to the office, plus learn a whole new set of people, policies, etc., work much harder, and maybe end up in a company that is just as screwed up as the one I left.

So I decided to just kick back, do as little as possible, and see what happens. So far, the answer is, nothing. The paychecks keep coming in. I am working to channel the energy and engagement that I used to put into my work into outside interests instead. At some point, if people are unhappy with me, then maybe I would consider leaving? Although, very likely that they would lay me off instead of firing me. But for now, I see no reason to stop these paychecks coming in. Yes, it has been somewhat difficult to keep the stupid stuff from bothering me, but overall, I absolutely think I made the right decision.

TLDR: It's a question of if you can get yourself into that different mindset or not. Can you get yourself to the point where the "idiots" don't really bother you, that you just can chuckle and move on? No one can answer that for you. Certainly it is not worth staying if you are letting it "kill you inside a little bit"--NOT WORTH IT.

This is me. I'm very disengaged. INTJ's don't like working for morons. I hear ya on the amount of hours actually worked. That's the thing, I get good pay, and easish work, and WFH, but the BS just drives me nuts.

I've basically started putting most of my effort into school and finding a high paying management job. While I was working on the change requests earlier, I did a half assed job. I actually saw a flaw in their process, but won't mention it. I just don't care. I'm game to just do the bare minimum, it's just that I don't want to ruin my track record. I've never been fired, and am fearful of being let go. Blow to the ego. And I will wonder, did I make a mistake giving up that 150K a year WFH job?

Otherwise, yeah, I'm game to milk it, but with an eye and some effort at getting a job I really want. All I know is don't envision myself doing technical work at 40...I'm getting too burned out on this crap as it is at 34...

squeakywheel

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2015, 12:12:04 PM »
I've never been fired, and am fearful of being let go. Blow to the ego.

To me, this is completely a non-issue. If they wanted to fire me, they would first have to give me some kind of verbal/written warning. And at that point I would have the option to actually start working hard again, or to voluntarily leave and look for something else. At least at my company, it is much more likely that if they wanted to fire me, they would lay me off instead. And that I don't think would be anything negative on my resume, as the company has laid of tons of people in the last couple of years. Plus then I would get that nice severance package.

Bearded Man

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2015, 12:48:27 PM »
I've never been fired, and am fearful of being let go. Blow to the ego.

To me, this is completely a non-issue. If they wanted to fire me, they would first have to give me some kind of verbal/written warning. And at that point I would have the option to actually start working hard again, or to voluntarily leave and look for something else. At least at my company, it is much more likely that if they wanted to fire me, they would lay me off instead. And that I don't think would be anything negative on my resume, as the company has laid of tons of people in the last couple of years. Plus then I would get that nice severance package.

I'm a contractor, and my company, as with most companies, will not hesitate to let me go when the client contract comes up for renewal (that's when I've seen it happen to others who lost favor with client management) or even before that, if the client gives the word.

So a lot of the rights you have as an employee, I don't have as a contractor who is on client account. I'm an employee of my company, but I've seen a half a dozen people walked out the door for first offense menial crap while employees of the client have been written up multiple times for sexual harassment, etc. Vendor management seems to be where it's at (did that before). Easy to be a slave driver when the people you hire to do the actual work have the fact that they will be easily replaced if they fall out of line.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2015, 12:56:01 PM »
Not that it makes you feel any better, but the "golden handcuff" scenarios I see look something like this:

Salary: $150k+

Stock options and grants on a rolling 5 year vesting schedule that will cliff vest at 55 (earliest date you could "retire")-potental value lost if you quit before 55 can easily be well into 6 figures.

So you think if you can make it to 55 and retire you have it made, right?

Well, we were one of the few companies in the industry that still have a pension.  Retire at 55 and you only get 50% of your potential benefit.  Make it to 65 and you get the entire thing.  Even assuming CPI salary raises, the incentive to keep working OMY at 55 is nearly a 15% increase in your pension payment. 

As a result of these structures, we have people hanging on way past their need or desire to keep working, they just can't quit because the money is just too good.  In many cases, it really is kind of sad to watch, but I guess you can't pity them too much, they made their choice-their time for cash.

Just be glad you are not locked in like these people!     

A few years back they scrapped options and grants for people at my level and I am kind of glad they did.  Pretty sure the pension will get scrapped as well before I would be anywhere close to the "gravy years" between 55 and 65.  Not that it matters too much, but it does make one feel a little better about pulling the ER ripcord when you are not looking a potential balance that will instantly vaporize when you do.


squeakywheel

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2015, 12:56:29 PM »
I've never been fired, and am fearful of being let go. Blow to the ego.

To me, this is completely a non-issue. If they wanted to fire me, they would first have to give me some kind of verbal/written warning. And at that point I would have the option to actually start working hard again, or to voluntarily leave and look for something else. At least at my company, it is much more likely that if they wanted to fire me, they would lay me off instead. And that I don't think would be anything negative on my resume, as the company has laid of tons of people in the last couple of years. Plus then I would get that nice severance package.

I'm a contractor, and my company, as with most companies, will not hesitate to let me go when the client contract comes up for renewal (that's when I've seen it happen to others who lost favor with client management) or even before that, if the client gives the word.

So a lot of the rights you have as an employee, I don't have as a contractor who is on client account. I'm an employee of my company, but I've seen a half a dozen people walked out the door for first offense menial crap while employees of the client have been written up multiple times for sexual harassment, etc. Vendor management seems to be where it's at (did that before). Easy to be a slave driver when the people you hire to do the actual work have the fact that they will be easily replaced if they fall out of line.

Yes, you mentioned the contractor piece before, I forgot that. Definitely a somewhat different situation.

Goldielocks

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2015, 03:47:25 PM »
CEO let go / criminal charges / rampant turnover / huge bureaucracy (ie not very efficient company)....

And you are a contract employee, working from home, that people rarely see, and you don't add a huge $ value for clients directly?


My two cents is that suddenly the company will go bankrupt, or you will get a termination notice.

Protect yourself by issuing your invoices more frequently, never be out more than 2 weeks pay. In a bankruptcy, you will not get any money that had not yet been distributed (or pennies on the dollar, about a year after the fact).  If you have paid time off coming to you (eg vacation), ensure you take it now, as that will disappear, too.

Once that is done, enjoy the ride.  Work your little bit, take on  other contract work as you see fit.  Make your dreamy FIRE plans a reality, whateve.


 

Bearded Man

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2015, 04:41:06 PM »
CEO let go / criminal charges / rampant turnover / huge bureaucracy (ie not very efficient company)....

And you are a contract employee, working from home, that people rarely see, and you don't add a huge $ value for clients directly?


My two cents is that suddenly the company will go bankrupt, or you will get a termination notice.

Protect yourself by issuing your invoices more frequently, never be out more than 2 weeks pay. In a bankruptcy, you will not get any money that had not yet been distributed (or pennies on the dollar, about a year after the fact).  If you have paid time off coming to you (eg vacation), ensure you take it now, as that will disappear, too.

Once that is done, enjoy the ride.  Work your little bit, take on  other contract work as you see fit.  Make your dreamy FIRE plans a reality, whateve.

I'm highly visible. Enterprise software. Client likes me, I got the job thanks to client, no application or interview. I add value, but largely, the organization is past it's prime. It's been in a downward spiral for 2+ years now and no sig of it letting up.

I've been looking at some cloud and program manager positions online that, are either comparable salary, or close enough that with the tax benefits factored in, I'd actually be taking home the same pay. Doubt any of them will be WFH, but still...

Sometimes you just need a change. That said, I took it easy today. I did many of the change requests very quickly, leaving the other 2/3 for another day. I've actually gotten more done than others there. I've done like four projects in the past six months and another guy is still working on his one simple project...

I'm just going to milk it. I'm a lead so they hold me to a higher standard but don't think I will get fired for that. Meanwhile if I get a more stable offer elsewhere that seems right, I will take it.

Fear of ending up in another bad place is largely what's keeping me here. That and the money/WFH. But I need a change of roles. I need to get out from under the admin assistants turned PM's type organization. It is THIS dynamic that is killing me, the most skilled working for the least skilled who don't even actually project manage.

If I end up at a bad place I can change jobs until I find a place I like. I have a lot of education, certs and experience, not to mention a cushion far beyond what I had before. I don't need to be so afraid of changing jobs.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 05:27:48 PM by Bearded Man »

jeromedawg

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Re: Golden Handcuffs, what to do?
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2015, 05:06:16 PM »
CEO let go / criminal charges / rampant turnover / huge bureaucracy (ie not very efficient company)....

And you are a contract employee, working from home, that people rarely see, and you don't add a huge $ value for clients directly?


My two cents is that suddenly the company will go bankrupt, or you will get a termination notice.

Protect yourself by issuing your invoices more frequently, never be out more than 2 weeks pay. In a bankruptcy, you will not get any money that had not yet been distributed (or pennies on the dollar, about a year after the fact).  If you have paid time off coming to you (eg vacation), ensure you take it now, as that will disappear, too.

Once that is done, enjoy the ride.  Work your little bit, take on  other contract work as you see fit.  Make your dreamy FIRE plans a reality, whateve.

I'm highly visible. Enterprise software. Client likes me, I got the job thanks to client. I add value, but largely, the organization is past it's prime. It's been in a downward spiral for 2+ years now and no sig of it letting up.

I've been looking at some cloud and program manager positions online that, are either comparable salary, or close enough that with the tax benefits factored in, I'd actually be taking home the same pay. Doubt any of them will be WFH, but still...

Sometimes you just need a change. That said, I took it easy today. I did many of the change requests very quickly, leaving the other 2/3 for another day. I've actually gotten more done than others there. I've done like four projects in the past six months and another guy is still working on his one simple project...

I'm just going to milk it. I'm a lead so they hold me to a higher standard but don't think I will get fired for that. Meanwhile if I get a more stable offer elsewhere that seems right, I will take it.

Fear of ending up in another bad place is largely what's keeping me here. That and the money/WFH. But I need a change of roles. I need to get out from under the admin assistants turned PM's type organization. It is THIS dynamic that is killing me, the most skilled working for the least skilled who don't even actually project manage.

If I end up at a bad place I can change jobs until I find a place I like. I have a lot of education, certs and experience, not to mention a cushion far beyond what I had before. I don't need to be so afraid of changing jobs.

Just an FYI but a majority of the working force would absolutely kill to be in your shoes haha. That said, and you already alluded to this, you'll have no problems landing something *at least* comparable if not better based on your overall experience. Anyway, my comment probably isn't worth much, other than for your own esteem LOL - good luck whatever route you take. Sounds like it'll be a journey into much prosperity and FIRE soon enough if not already.