Tired of Thinking So Hard

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have been at my company for more than 30 years, working my way
up from an analyst to a senior project director. I bring in hundreds of
thousands of dollars a year in net revenue to the firm, but the hours
and continual stress of deadlines have taken their toll on my health
and helped end my first marriage. Now have a new wife, a child on the
spectrum who needs more of my time, and enough money that I
could, as my wife tells me daily, retire today. I don’t want to because I
am senior enough that my firm will need at least three to six months
to hire a replacement, and the extra I could earn this year and as a
consultant for the next few years will help with vacations, extra
therapy for our daughter, etc. Can you help me with a script for the
boss (call him John) when I go in to tell him I want to hang up my

Tired of Thinking So Hard

Dear Tired:

The key to negotiating is to have something you bring to the table. In
this case it is not only the projects you have already won that have
been contracted with your firm, but your decades of name recognition
in the winning of future projects if you can hammer out an agreement
to keep some kind of consulting relationship. A couple points before
the script. Usually when a bid is submitted, staff substitutions are to
some degree with the approval of the client. Otherwise firms could bid
A-grade labor and substitute wet-behind-the-ear staff. So you have a
little leverage there. That goes too for letting them include your
resume and qualifications on future bids, for which you might want a
very limited role in the future—perhaps in project design or reviewing
draft reports.

The convo should go roughly like this: John, I want to review the
status of my department. I’ve brought a spreadsheet that shows the
work we’ve recently won, that gives a good summary of what’s on the
table for the next year plus. You know I’ve worked here for 30 years.



My wife would love me to return today, but I’d rather work with you to
develop an exit strategy that will allow you to hire someone with
strong qualifications to take my place on these projects. I’d also like to
talk about developing a role for myself in the long run, in a consulting
capacity without benefits but at a higher wage, for as long as you think
it would be good for the company to have access to me. I don’t expect
us to get the details completed today or even this month. But I want
to start the conversation with a goal of getting to closure by the end of
the year. Then shut up and listen.