This is the last part (for now) of How Not To inspire struggling employees.
[The past two posts provide context for this.]
The situation: Unlike the previous situations, at this point I was making enough money to pay my bills on time, albeit without really getting ahead. I had worked my way up from Software Engineer to Vice President of Programming and, again, was the highest positioned employee, #2 to the owner/President. The company was not particularly strong, financially, but I had finished a multimedia presentation product that had the possibility, if managed and marketed correctly, to make a large splash in a fledgling industry (in 1992). I had high hopes of actually earning a comfortable living for once. Until…
The incident: My boss, for reasons still unknown to me, confided that he would be “perfectly happy to earn $40K per year.” In fact, he went on to proclaim that if a benefactor would grant him that much each year, he will close down the company and just live on that.
That was his goal. Of course, this is one of those guys who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, so I suppose it was admirably modest, but the fact that he barely wanted to earn more than I expected on my next raise was disconcerting. More so was the fact that he was only committed to the company from which I was earning my living until something easier came along (like inheriting family money, perhaps).
The lessons: If the owner of the company has aspirations for the long term that are lower than your own for the next year or so, it is time to look elsewhere. Should you find that your boss has no particular commitment to the work that you (collectively) do, get ready to leave. When your boss has an extramarital affair with one of your coworkers and it starts affecting your job, depart as soon as possible. (No, wait… That last one is a different story.)