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Listener Mail: Am I Being “Aged Out” of My Job?

Erin: Welcome to Hotter Than Ever Listener Mail. I'm your host, Erin Keating. And in these new short weekly episodes, I give you my opinionated and not at all officially qualified feedback about the questions, problems, quandaries, and dilemmas that you have posed to me about love, sex, relationships, career, aging, ambition, divorce, and anything else that's on your mind.

And I wanted to share a note that one of the listeners to this podcast, who wants to remain anonymous sent in mom of two boys and 52 years old in a happy marriage. But so much of what you talk about resonates so strongly with me:

"I am in tech, big corporate, and I believe I am starting to be worked out in quotes, a top performer, my whole career. And I am now bottom 10 percent no bonus or salary increase this year. And I believe I am being quote unquote sent a message. Because of my age, I'm not alpha enough. I can't prove it all, but my radar is on fire, feeling a definite life dip, and I badly need the courage to opt out of the bullshit. Thanks for talking me through it all."

What strikes me about this note is that there is information based on compensation that is being imparted to our friend. But there's nothing direct being told to her about what is actually going on. And God, I really recognize that feeling from corporate life where you're like, I know some fucked up stuff is happening above me.

I don't know what it is. I have no way to prove it. Everything is kind of whispery. And I've got these couple little pieces of information that I'm trying to figure out whether they're part of a pattern. Now, if you're a top performer your whole career, and you're in tech, and you are now bottom 10 percent with no bonus or salary increase, that is a sign.

If you are a top performer, Your boss wants you there, and the way that they keep you incentivized to work as hard as you have to work in tech is through money. The money is the indicator of how much they care about keeping you. I think it's all about the comp. And if your spidey sense is going ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, listen to that.

Who can you ask? Who do you trust in your company? Are there some macro trends going on in your particular corner of the business? My ex husband works in technology. I worked at a tech company in my last job and things change really fast. In those places, things can change really fast and the state of your industry can change quickly and a lot of things are being disrupted from new technology and AI and trends in coding and trends in product and if your Spidey sense is going off, there is something going on. Comp is a huge indicator.

So what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? That is always the question, right? You could stay there and not ask any questions, and keep your head down, and keep being a good girl, and keep being a top performer. Or you can start to ask questions.

I think you are within your rights to say to the powers that be, whether that's your direct boss or your HR department, which, you know, some HR people will maybe not like me saying this, but I don't trust them. So I would be careful about approaching HR. But I think because there is a question around comp, you are well within your rights to go to them and say, 'Hey, something's not quite tracking here for me, because if you look at my track record, you will see X, Y, and Z that I have delivered in my time at this company.' And you will also see where I have fit on the rankings of performance and therefore value to the company. Is there something that I need to understand?

About why I am in the bottom 10 percent and why I did not get a bonus this year or a salary increase is this reflective of how the entire company's comp worked this cycle. Is there belt tightening? Are there cuts coming? Or is this an indicator of how the company feels about me and values my work? Because obviously my work is valued in dollars and benefits and bonuses and salary increases. Um, that is how they compensate you. That is why they call it compensation.

So I think it's worthwhile to have that conversation with the person who you think will give you the straightest answer. Is there someone who is not in your direct reporting line, who you can talk to, who is high up enough that they could give you the straight dope? Do you have peers you can process this with?

I wouldn't talk incredibly widely about it, but I would have some well placed conversations, and I don't think you should ignore it. Why it's happening is not as important as that it's happening. And if it's happening, and you don't have. Any, truly any understanding of why I would take that to heart and I might start looking for another job or the next chapter if it's not this job, because you say you badly need the courage to opt out of the bullshit.

Do you want to opt out of corporate life altogether? Do you want to opt out of this particular role at this particular company? Do you want to figure out how to be a consultant? Do you want to figure out how to work for yourself? Is there another path inside of technology that you want to take? It sounds like some real soul searching is in order.

And the first place that I go for soul searching is I pick up a pen and I start to write and I ask myself, what is this bullshit that I want out of? What are the things that I can no longer tolerate? And what am I afraid of? I think it's okay to be afraid.

Courage comes when you push through fear. Courage is taking the bull by the horns and going, you know what? I need to have this conversation. I need to get this information and I need to establish what it is that I really want in this next chapter of my life. It sounds to me like a creaky door that's starting to close. I could be wrong, but I think you wouldn't be writing into the Hotter Than Ever podcast if you didn't want to hear some kind of permission to do what it is that you really want to do.

There are many paths. There are many paths, even if you have been inside corporate life, your whole career, and you have gotten all of the perks and the bells and whistles of corporate life, you can continue to have that somewhere else, or you can take everything you've learned and codify that somehow, and offer that up as something that is highly valuable to other people.

So I'm so curious to find out what you do, please write back in and keep us up to date. But don't stick your head in the sand, get the information, have the conversations, find out what is really up as much as you possibly can use that Spidey sense. Our intuition, our bodies tell us so much. It's just about tuning into that, right?

It sounds like you've really tuned into that and that you want out of the bullshit and this might be the catalyst. If you allow it to be, this could be the catalyst for the next stage of your life. Oh, I'm so excited for you. The best is yet to come. I send you so much love. So much love. Thanks for listening to hotter than ever listener mail.

How can you ask a question? I'm so glad you asked DM us @hotterthaneverpod on Instagram or leave me a voicemail or text the hotter than ever hottie hotline. Yes, that's the Hotter Than Ever Hottie Hotline at 323 844 2303. Like an infomercial, I'll say that number again. That's the Hotter Than Ever Hottie Hotline at 323 844 2303. I would love to answer your question in a future episode.

Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Girard and PodKit Productions. Our associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez.

Thanks for listening to Listener Mail.


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