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How to move on from a vital position?

"vital" is not relevent. What is relevent is to move forward in one's career without unnecessarily making people angry or burning bridges. Keep up your work standards until you are ready to leave, give reasonable notice, don't be a jerk without a really good reason to be a jerk. In other words, don't burn bridges or piss people off.

And *these ARE the good old days* - if the market confirms you for better opportunities, take them.
The sad thing is, the GM is about in the same spot. All the reward he got was a pretty decent raise after 3-4 years of promises - which was then promptly cut back in a few months after the owners over-leveraged the company to add a third location and part of the business. He’s as torn as I am, probably worse because everyone above him is family by marriage. I know for a fact many people would, gradually, leave if the GM left because he’s about the only hope of anything good happening - and he’s got two hands and a leg tied behind his back by his family.

As others have already pointed out, this is all that needs to be said.

You are now, and always will be 2nd, maybe 3rd class, for as long as you stay there. IF you want to see what your future looks like at this company, look back 3-6 months to the present, and continue that projection. That is what your future there will be.

Is your resume' updated?
Have 3, 5, 10 places nearby that seem interesting enough that you'd reach out to them?

If you need help with your resume, send me a private message.
Wonder if we'll ever get an update from the OP?...............................prolly not....................

You will! I’m just biding my time. I try to be one of those to with mouth shut, ears open. Or in this case, eyes open, and… thumbs off the keypad I guess. Haha.

Right now I’ve just been doing some thinking, working on a resume, trying to figure out how to lay my concerns out. My coworker who is leaving to a new job wraps his time up with us soon and with it, any feeling of something to look forward to goes out the window for me. I guess it should tell me something that working with a guy who has worked here half a year that I’ve been training and swapping knowledge with, is what gives me the little bit of enjoyment I get anymore. But it’s about to be all gone.

Thanks again to everyone’s advice and wisdom. Moving on after 10 years in the first shop I’ve been at is hard to swallow. And it doesn’t help that things are up and down. One day it’s a good conversation with the shop manager, the next it’s two days full of reminders why I haven’t had an ounce of job satisfaction in at least 9 months.

Who knows, maybe a shop of my own may be a thing one day. Feels like I’ve learned a lot of what not to do. I imagine many of you gentlemen know that feeling!
It’s been a decade, and I don’t get the impression the GM has hidden any issues from management. They already know, even if they don’t care. I’m one to regularly voice my concerns, but you have no influence with the real decision makers. As a result, and seeing as you need to leave anyways, all it’s going to do is endanger your current income or work environment.
The time to leave feedback, if you insist on it, is after you have your start date at your next job and are at the end of the notice period in your current role. Any sooner and you are endangering your role or inviting the owners to put unwarranted doubts in your mind.

A few jobs ago the plant manager asked me why I was resigning. I asked him if he really needed to ask that question, to which he replied “No, I know why, congratulations and stay in touch.”
As a shop owner for 37 years I am seeing some good advice and some bad advice here, first no one here knows the real situation at the place you work, you may not even know or it the shop manager may not have all the details either.So given that it would be a horrible idea to leave on bad terms, many small shop owners struggle day to day just to keep the doors open .Many go into debt and go without personal pay to assure the people working for them have jobs. Some times it may be through their own fault some times not, some times the work just dries up due to bad times. I can already hear some people in here saying well just go out and get more work and to them I will say you go try it and see how difficult that is. Anyway there is no point in destroying what could be a great reference for you in your search for a new job. Let me also suggest that money is not everything I have worked for a few bad places in the past decent pay but I dreaded going to work every day. So if it is strictly a money thing talk to the boss and see what he says, if you are a valuable employee to him he is very likely to work with you. For those that say you are easy to replace clearly they are out of touch with the reality of the situation out there, no one is going into this field anymore it is damn near impossible to hire some one that can read a 6 inch scale.If your boss knows this and is semi smart he will try to work with you because you are NOT easy to replace at all. As for learning new tech yes that is always good I always tell people to suck up free training when ever possible it just makes you a more valuable employee but also keep in mind a person in training does not start at the top rate of pay so you may need to put in some time to earn that top dollar. For those telling you to just hit the door without notice pay no attention to them that is a stupid idea under any circumstances it will only hurt you and burn a possible valuable bridge that you may need in the future. You can not treat all companies the same, large corporations work differently than small ones do and unless you know for a fact what is going on there and what if any the future plans are I would give the boss the benefit of the doubt and try to have a talk with him. I do not know how well you know the boss or if you ever talk to him but he is the one you need to speak with not a manager who may or may not know what is really going on. I would also mention to the boss that you are taking on extra responsibilities he may not even be aware of. Larger companies tend to have a disconnect between lower and upper level management and remember friends are different inside of work than outside they have jobs to watch out for too. Middle management is about the worst position you can be put in you take shit from the top and from the bottom and have to some how make it all work, not an easy job. You have nothing to lose by being decent about this except a bit of your time.
To the OP
If the owners thought you were vital, they would not put you in a situation where you’re looking for a new employment. One way or another they would communicate to you how important you are to the operation. If that hasn’t happened, you are probably not vital in their opinion.
To the OP
If the owners thought you were vital, they would not put you in a situation where you’re looking for a new employment. One way or another they would communicate to you how important you are to the operation. If that hasn’t happened, you are probably not vital in their opinion.

I had an employer that I informed I would be starting to look for a new position, and why, and they should start looking for / training up my replacement. A few months later I found the right place to move to, and put in my notice. It was at that point they took notice and told me how important I was and how hard to replace. I said "If I was that important, why didn't you address any of my concerns?"

Moving was the best thing I could have done, and put me in a much better position.
There is no such thing as a "vital position" for you. There is for the shop but you'll see how vital you are when they run out of money and fire you. You are selling your time to them. You are not obligated to sell your most valuable resource because they depend on you. I once quit a job when a raise I was promised never came to fruition. When I asked the boss he said, "we just don't have the money but you are vital to the department." Then I'm really not that vital. Just walk away. You owe them nothing as they owe you nothing. It's the way it works.
It's been several months, how did it go? What did you end up doing?
Hey. It’s funny, earlier today I thought about giving an update. Then I pop in and see my thread back up top, haha…

So… I had a talk with the GM around the time I posted originally. Basically offered them two options, either a decent raise or a slight raise and some extra vacation to stick around a bit longer. They gave me my preferred option.

But I told myself, if in six months, things aren’t looking up? I’m done. I’m finding a way out.

Well, it’s been about six months and if anything, it’s worse. The entire shop is pissed off about this or that. The company has handled wage compression in about the worst way possible, take a guess how that went… on top of just more stress getting piled on. Really, the whole shop from the “manager” down are just plodding along day to day with no light at the end of the tunnel.

I could go on and on but that’s not to anyone’s benefit.

Truth is, I regret staying. The guys who moved on before my post, and since, were the wise once, and I was just too timid to do so. I have gotten a dang good helper a few weeks back, but he’s already seeing the fractures in this shop, and I wonder how much he will put up with, just like the last guy.

Unfortunately, the decent job opportunities in the area are gone now. But, the sad thing is… while I used to love machining - I was one of those who ate, slept and breathed this stuff - the stressors of the last few years of this job have beaten that out of me. Despite my accomplishments, I don’t love it anymore. It’s just a grind with no satisfaction.

What I may end up doing is just taking some time off. I can afford to take months, or even years off if I desire, to recuperate and reevaluate. Maybe look into a different trade, or see if there is a quality shop in the area.

I’ll bow to the wise folks here who urged me to pick up roots months ago. Wholeheartedly, I should have listened; outside of a paycheck, I’m no better off than I was, perhaps worse mentally.

We’ll see how things continue to go. I believe come late July or early August, I will exit and take some time for myself.
Sorry that it didn’t work out, but at least you were able to prove it to yourself. Two thoughts:
1. It’s always easier to get a job while you still have one. Also, while there might not be clear posted openings, those that left your shop, if still on good terms with you, are now a network that can help you get in elsewhere.
2. I used to always take time off between jobs, and should probably get back to that. The hiring manager always says they want me tomorrow, and I politely explain that can start in 3 weeks, 4 weeks, whatever my notice period plus a trip is. They accept, and we continue on. I also confirm with them when I get back that I’ll be seeing them the next day so they know I won’t no-show on them.

It entails a bit of risk for everyone, but I wonder if you could get away with doing that as well. Interview with the understanding that you’re available in 6 weeks from written offer. Use two as a notice period if appropriate, then for R&R the rest?
I'm in the same boat right now...it's taking on water, but it's built out of foam so all that seems to be happening is all the employees are soaked, tired and cold. I've got cash in the bank, interviews lined up, but for some reason still feel guilty about "loyalty". I told a coworker last night that the only thing keeping me there is her and a couple other employees, trying as I might to improve things for them, building their confidence so THEY can land on their feet. It's all for naught though, because in the end, they too are adults.

I've also had pretty frank discussions with hiring managers. The previous advice of "have a new job lined up" isn't necessarily the case anymore. Setting real boundaries is now more acceptable. The "real reason" as previously alluded to can be as simple as, I am good at managing my money, I don't live beyond my means, and the workplace was no longer a growth environment. While you are doing nothing more than trading your labor for an hourly rate, that rate is variable. I will take less dollars per hour for a growth environment. Taking time off between jobs to clear your head is more acceptable. Simply put, in the great resignation, some employers are listening. If the employer you apply at is not one of them listening, they failed the very first test of "what's my work life balance going to be like".
(snip) While you are doing nothing more than trading your labor for an hourly rate, that rate is variable. I will take less dollars per hour for a growth environment. Taking time off between jobs to clear your head is more acceptable. Simply put, in the great resignation, some employers are listening. If the employer you apply at is not one of them listening, they failed the very first test of "what's my work life balance going to be like".
Very good point. I wonder if my situation is fairly common - driven employees become stagnant in un-engaging jobs, and move on to places that are forward thinking and reward that drive, instead of grinding it down.
Thanks for this.

When the oxygen mask drops out if the airliner ceiling, you put your own on first. You can't help anyone else if you're the one that needs help.
I like this a lot. Quite sobering.

Thanks guys. I will report back in time.
I'm probably a little late to respond but maybe someone else can benefit from my answer. If you appreciate where you work, then whatever you choose to do, make sure it is respectful towards them. This doesn't mean that they take priority, because you come first. I started as a machinist in October 2018. Within the first month of learning CNC, I was able to do set ups. I worked very hard and would run 2 machines while others ran 1. I got denied a raise in 2020 even though I was the "most productive operator." It more had to do with me being a minute or two late here and there. I didn't agree but it was there decision to make.

About a month later, I started looking for higher paying jobs. I found one with a $5/ hour raise. I told my job that I was leaving and guess what....they decided to match. I go to tell my new employer what happened, they offered me $3/hour more. Instead of getting into a bidding war, I decided to just go with the new employer. I didn't want it to be about money. I decided to go with the new place because the other company denied me a small raise and then was suddenly willing to give me a bigger raise. I work at the new company and then about a year goes by. A new manager at my old employer called me and asked what it would take to get me back. He had heard a lot about me and wanted me back, hinting at a management position. I told him that it would have to be $8/ hour more because I was working 2 jobs and they would have to come close to what I am making considering I would have to leave both jobs. He offered me $3/ hour but if I proved that I could fulfill certain tasks then after 3 months he would have no problem giving me what I want. I agree because even though they had issues, I liked the owner and the people I worked with. Plus they basically gave me my start in the industry.

I do everything that he asked plus some. I demonstrate all of the skills that he asked for on the phone yet he still found reasons to complain. I could tell by the way he treated other hires like they were expendable and the way he talked to me, that I was not going to get the raise. I probably never even had a chance. On top of that, he fills the manager position with a new hire that I had to teach about set ups and even operating the machines. Nothing against him but he just wasn't the guy. There were 2 other candidates that everyone agreed should have been offered the role and I was one of them.

I preemptively look for another job, one that could pay me what I was looking for now that I lost my part time job too. I found one pretty quickly offering me more than I wanted at an $8/hour raise. I give my employer one last chance to give me the money I had asked for that he said he would give, which by the way was still a $3/hour discount from what I was offered from new job. I don't want to be a person that is considered to just chase the money. It may seem like thats what I did, not completely. Is it important? Absolutely, but I don't need every last dollar.

Of course, they didn't give it to me so I left. So after working in the CNC industry for 4 years, I was able to get an $19/hour raise. That's an extra 40k per year. It wouldn't have happened unless I knew my worth. I knew I was worth more than what I was originally making, they pretended like I wasn't. Of course as soon as I was ready to leave, they were ready to pay me. This snowballed into plenty of raises. I now run my own department and answer to myself. Get what you deserve. You can start fires but dont burn bridges. Also make sure you got another bridge just in case.
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I went to my old employers funeral last week....ten years after I quit his son still seemed very bitter about it..........same as his old man,he seemed to think they owned me.