Not Sure Whether to Stay or Go? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I am an EVP of sales for a US-based fitness and weight loss website that is in hypergrowth. I started with the company about eight years ago and rose through the ranks, figuring things out as I went.

About 18 months ago, my regional counterpart (I was East, he was West) quit suddenly when someone else was promoted to chief sales officer over him. The amount of regional VPs I managed suddenly doubled and I had a new boss. She came from sales operations, has never sold so much as a Girl Scout cookie, and depends on me for everything.

Since she started, my work has been nothing but a slog. In 2021, I got no recognition or appreciation from my new boss when—despite the doubling of my workload and the crazy COVID disruption—we crushed our sales quotas for 2020. This past year, in addition to my ten regular direct reports, I covered for someone who went out on a six-month medical leave. When I asked for a promotion to senior executive VP, my boss couldn’t understand why that mattered to me and denied me the title change. Then just a couple of weeks ago, without any discussion or explanation, she changed my comp plan. I did the math and discovered I essentially got a pay cut.

It seems like the harder I try and the better I do, the less I am making and the less they care about me. I have tried several times to share with my boss what motivates me (title, money), but she doesn’t listen and doesn’t care. I have received no feedback at all on what I might be doing wrong, so it isn’t a performance issue.

I don’t want to leave my people high and dry, but I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. How do I make the decision to stay or go? I get calls from headhunters all day long, the industry I am in is exploding, and I have an amazing track record. All my friends think I am nuts for staying. What do you think?

Stay or Go?


Dear Stay or Go?

This sounds really hard. It is hard to imagine what your boss is thinking. Why, if you are doing so well, would she be lowering your comp and denying you something (a title) that costs her nothing when it is so clearly important to you?

I guess my question is: What is keeping you where you are? You don’t want to leave your people high and dry—that’s it? You don’t mention how much you love the company, or the product/service you are selling and the difference it makes in the world. That tells me you will probably be much happier in an environment where your boss appreciates your skills, cares about what matters to you, and has the professionalism to manage conversations like a change in comp properly. I mean, seriously, a change in compensation for a sales professional requires delicacy, tact, and lots of negotiation. I am not in sales, but I know something like that shouldn’t just be an announcement.

Is it possible that because you started in the company early and rose up, you feel a strong sense of ownership that is keeping you stuck somewhere you aren’t appreciated?

What if you were to give yourself one last quarter to do your utmost to prepare your team to be as successful as possible without you, then respond to those headhunters and find a company that will recognize your value and treat you better?

I think when everything becomes an uphill battle, your boss sends messages that you don’t matter, and you are asking yourself every day how much longer you can hold on, those are clues that it might be time to go.

Did I miss something? Only you will know.

Good luck.

Love, Madeleine

About Madeleine

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response soon. Please be advised that although she will do her best, Madeleine cannot respond to each letter personally. Letters will be edited for clarity and length.

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