Some time ago I was working with a guy who was the business development lead for new ventures and strategic partnerships for his company. It was clear he really enjoyed his job. He was good at it, helping his employer to successfully move into new areas never considered before his arrival. I remarked that it was clear he loved what he was doing. His response was particularly telling:
“John, when things come together, this job is better than sex!”
Ever considered just how seductive the job you do, or the company you work with, can be?
You can have huge praise lauded onto you; raises, bonuses, and promotions. And each action comes with a nice message - “You! You’re GREAT! We love what you do around here! We’re SO LUCKY to have you! We don’t know what we’d do if you ever leave us!”
Pretty heady stuff. It doesn’t take long until it starts to feel very nice.
On the other side of your life is the home front; frankly not many folks get those kinds of compliments or that type of praise heaped on them regularly.
In this way and others, companies can romance you. As a result, you can become very emotionally attached to them. And like any affair, this feeling can cause you to lose perspective when considering options - like leaving them.
Recently I was working with a woman employed at a large soft drink company. She’d just been offered a job by a competitor. That job was a significant jump in responsibility - a level that would probably take her a couple of years to reach with her current employer. In addition to a bigger title, the other company was offering a company car which she didn’t have now, a much bigger potential bonus, and she could telecommute a couple of days a week if she chose. The last was important because she was a new mom.
Yet she didn’t think she should take the offer. When we huddled together to consider the pros and cons; she realized that she wasn’t making a lot of sense. However, she justified her thinking by saying that she felt “obliged” to stay at the current place. “They’ve been good to me in the past, and it’s really not that bad currently.”
She sounded like a lot of folks contemplating leaving a lover, husband, or girlfriend because the relationship has gone downhill. They usually recall the good things from the past and forget about the other opportunities which may exist to have a happier, more satisfying life with another person. “It’s not really that bad…”
In the end, she made the right decision and is very happy. But it wasn’t easy for her. And - by the way - that’s exactly what companies want you to feel: obliged to them.
They want their best talent feeling loyal and dedicated to them. So they design their comp plans to act like golden handcuffs. Additionally, they may offer two or more incentive programs so it’s even harder to walk away.
But in the end, any relationship based on stuff which causes us to temporarily feel good, but doesn’t provide any authentic joy and long-term satisfaction, will crater. And if a relationship is going to collapse, it’s better that you’re the one who walks away first.