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Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

The Ache of Adjustment: Facing a Self-Storage Job Change

Change can be tough. The degree of discomfort it causes has a lot to do with whether it happens by choice. We all face difficult decisions at some point during our career. If you’re facing a change in your self-storage position or staff, whether by preference or necessity, you owe it to yourself to be well-informed about your options.

After 13-plus years with his former company, my husband just started a new job. It’s an adjustment. He’s gone from having seniority, a private office, telecommuting rights and an elastic schedule to being the new kid on the block, working in an open desk pool and having to step to someone else’s beat. He accepted an excellent opportunity with a growing company; and he’ll be vigorously challenged, which is important for his big brain. But he’s still mourning the (hopefully temporary) loss of his hard-earned professional privileges.

It’s been a long time since either of us was on the job market, and it was intimidating to re-enter the water. We had to think about things we’d come to take for granted. Of course, there’s the salary, but also many other factors. Would he have health insurance, and would it be any good? Would the new company have a 401k plan, and would it do any matching? How much paid time off would he receive, and how soon would it be available? How long would his commute be? What would the business culture be like? What about the physical office? Would he like his supervisor and coworkers? And then there were the really important things, like could he wear his snarky t-shirts to work, and would there be good places to eat lunch?

Change can be tough. The degree of discomfort it causes has a lot to do with whether it happens by choice. When it comes to employment, even positive change can be stressful. If your boss gives you an unexpected promotion, you may be delighted and yet timid. Even if you sought the advancement, or went a step further and took a job with a new company, it can be nerve-wracking. But in these cases, you’re generally willing to tolerate the pain of change because you desire the end result.

But what if the decision is foisted upon you? Let’s say you get laid off—or worse, fired. Or maybe your employer gives you a choice between unattractive options. For example, in my husband’s case, his company closed its Phoenix office. Our alternatives were to move across the country or just plain move on. He really liked his job, and he didn’t want to leave; but the terms of the relocation weren't viable. It was a harsh decision that thankfully came to a happy end. But the reality is, when your hand is forced, resentment can make change hard to swallow.

We all face difficult decisions at some point during our career. On our Self-Storage Talk (SST) forum, members have shared a great deal about their employment ups and downs. We’ve heard from managers who were celebrating promotions or positions at bigger, better facilities. We’ve heard from owners seeking to fill positions or handle staff-related problems. We’ve read stories from resident managers who were evicted from their apartments with nowhere to go, and others who were harassed by their employers. We’ve also heard tales of embezzlement. Members have even swapped strategies for requesting pay increases or terminating an employee.

Over the past year, my team and I have spent a lot of time considering and discussing employment challenges for self-storage managers and owners. If you remember, we launched a study in an effort to create industry benchmarks for salaries, wages, benefits, bonuses and other incentives. The “2015 Self-Storage Manager Compensation Survey” was first announced at last year’s ISS Expo, and we have since been collecting, organizing and analyzing the data, which included responses from nearly 500 facility managers. We’ve also been talking with self-storage employees, owners, third-party management companies and staffing experts to get feedback on critical employment issues.

After almost a year of effort, we’re happy to announce the culmination of this in-depth project, and we hope the information it produced will assist managers and owners alike in making their sometimes difficult job decisions. We just last week released the detailed survey results. You can get a preview in this free slideshow. If you’re interested in the complete package, which includes a 69-page data report and a 15-page information booklet, you can purchase it in the ISS Store.

When you’re facing a change in your self-storage career or staff, whether by preference or necessity, you owe it to yourself to be well-informed about your options. Whatever the motivation, good or bad, you have choices. Sure, there will be pains. Some will be a quick sting; others may be harder to bear. The ache of change can sometimes linger. That’s OK. As they say, “You don’t need to see the whole staircase. You just need to take the first step.” Dig in and focus on your brass ring, whatever that represents.

Are you looking for a new job opportunity or need some help coping with a work-related challenge? Reach out to your colleagues on SST. Ask for advice in the “Staffing, Education and Training” forum, or post in our online Job Fair. Our community is full of supportive, talented professionals who are happy to help a friend in need. If you’re coming to Las Vegas for the show, make sure you attend the seminars on hiringperformance self-checks and job burnout. Finally, feel free to post questions or share stories in the comments section below.

If you're currently nursing the ache of a job adjustment, just stay the course. You'll be wearing your snarky t-shirts to the office in no time.

TAGS: Staffing
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