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The Top Ten Reasons Good Employees Quit

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Dear Liz,

I’ve just made it through the roughest patch in my career so far.

Reading your articles helped a lot. They reminded me that I’m not crazy, even though at times I started to wonder.

I tried for two years to make things work at my last job but it wasn’t going to happen, and I finally quit last month.

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My stealth job search took five months, but I got a much better job. Now I can’t believe I waited so long to start looking around!

When my boss “Stan” hired me two years ago, I thought it was going to be a great partnership. Stan is really smart. He’s very successful.

He started his company with nothing and grew it to $50 million in sales.

Now Stan is living large. He spends his time on the beach in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. He’s less and less involved in the business all the time.

Stan hired me to be his number two. It sounded like a great opportunity.

Within a year I was running the back end of Stan’s business including Operations, Procurement, Customer Support, Manufacturing, Facilities and HR, but he wouldn’t promote me or even change my title from Operations Manager as the company and my role grew.

I supervised 100 people, more than any other leader in Stan’s company.

I asked Stan to make me COO several times, but he wouldn’t do it. His CFO is a part-time employee who is also basically checked out. Why pay a full-time CFO when Stan had me to make sure the company finances were in order?

I got paid $100,000 when I started the job, and $115,000 when I left two years later.

Everyone on the Sales team and every other senior leader got paid more than I did.

They deserve it — but I deserved more than I got paid, and my new job pays $50,000 more than the last one.

Now I see that I was too trusting and too timid with Stan.

For two years I put up with Stan’s abuse and neglect.

I worked almost every weekend. I was never home, not by choice but because of the demands of the job. Stan strung me along. He promised me an equity stake and I never got it. He promised me a lot of other things that never came through.

In my two years working for Stan I put the supply chain and Purchasing organization together, established the company’s Customer Support function, moved us into a new facility and oversaw the construction of a 100,000 square foot distribution facility.

That resume fodder helped me get the job I have now, so none of my effort was wasted.

My wife says the ironic thing is that if Stan had respected me more or treated me like a collaborator instead of a lackey, I would have stayed.

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The money was not the main issue.

The same week I was negotiating my new job offer, Stan gave me a tiny (insulting) pay raise with no explanation. Maybe he sensed that I was ready to walk.

I gave notice the next day. Stan was shocked. People like Stan are always shocked when somebody like me quits.

He offered me another $25,000 to stay. Imagine how that made me feel — like Stan had always had the money, but he wouldn’t part with it unless he really had to. Naturally, I turned him down and left two weeks later.

It was a tough learning experience but a powerful one. I’m glad I finally came to my senses and recognized that I was wasting my time trying to get Stan to treat me the way I deserve to be treated.

Thanks for continually inspiring and empowering us, Liz!



Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns. Liz’s book Reinvention Roadmap is here.




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