I am married to the HR Capitalist. And yes, I call him that around the house; as in, "Hey Capitalist, dinner is ready." No, not really. I’m the boss, and he’s lucky he gets to hang around…
Actually, I am the copy editor for both blogs – HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent, though I have no credentials listed on the site. I guess I am the "behind the scenes" gal – you know, the kind that makes the man look good, checking spelling, sentences, etc. Nevertheless, this is my first opportunity to actually write to either site. If you are reading this, I guess I made the cut.
When I read Jason Pankow’s contribution to FOT a couple of weeks ago regarding selling the relocation to the spouse, I knew I had to share our family’s relocation experiences. Jason is right on – the candidate can be all about the relocation, but I think in many relationships, the spouse has the ultimate approval or veto power.
Here is one absolutely true scenario that we have experienced firsthand in the HR Capitalist household:
The year was 2001. We’re living in Birmingham, Alabama, with our one year old son. Kris is field-based VP of HR for a Fortune 500, that shall remain nameless. I am a District Attorney (that means I prosecute criminals) in an office I love, and have some seniority having been there for about 4 years. Kris gets the call from the higher ups to take a job in Denver, with said company, to lead the whole HR function for the western region of the US. Neither of us had ever been to Denver, so the prospect certainly piqued our curiosity.
So, Kris goes out a couple of weeks before me and makes the rounds in the Denver office and does a little house hunting in his spare time. When he comes home, he issues me a very understated warning about the real estate in the metro and suburban Denver area, as in "Ang, the houses are not going to be quite as big, or look like they do here. Just know that going in." OK. He already realized that selling this move to me was going to be difficult, so he is being sort of cautiously vague, but definitely managing expectations. Anyway, we fly out there and my initial illusions about beautiful, wooded neighborhoods were rapidly dismissed. Now, no offense to anyone from Denver, but where are all the trees? We landed at the airport and it looks like the plains of Kansas – or the surface of the moon! I think Rocky Mountains, and I think trees with the mountains. The mountains are in the distance and most of the city is high desert – no trees. We live in Birmingham and we have about, oh 20 million more trees than you do.
I was honestly trying to keep an open mind, as Kris seemed pretty excited about the possibility of this change (hello career ambition!!). So, we drive through some neighborhoods and I can feel Kris biting his lip. Nothing like seeing 500 of the exact same house, half the size of ours, but double the price, within about 5 feet of each other. Really? It’s got to get better, right? Here’s the kicker…
For lunch, we head to a local upscale Tex-Mex joint to meet up with the guy who would be Kris’s boss in Denver, if he were to accept this transition. Kris makes introductions, we sit down, we order . . . Having never been to this particular chain restaurant, I ordered a salad as well as an entree. When the food arrives, the servings are HUGE and the salad and the entre are each on GINORMOUS plates of their own. Basically, three plates take up the whole table, and the waiter doesn’t know where to put the fourth plate, which happens to be mine (I ordered a salad earlier, remember?). The potential future boss looks right at me, no smile, and says, "Are you hungry, Angela?" in the most snide manner possible. Now, I have a pretty average build (5’7", about 125), and I don’t easily get offended, but you have to admit that was over the top. I heard the air leave the Capitalist’s lungs next to me; he must have been motioning for the check as he steadied himself from the dizziness.
Of course, that comment did not make or break our decision on whether to relocate to Denver, but for some people, it might have. Just imagine if I had been overweight and sensitive about it OR even worse, if I had been suffering from an eating disorder, like bulimia. What a ghastly mistake from the guy who should have been making his greatest effort to sell me – the spouse – on the relo. That was the BAD and the UGLY!
So, the trip was awful and the company did nothing to help the sales process. I guess they thought that Denver would sell itself over Birmingham, but relo is all relative to the experiences of the family pondering it. For us, we would have missed the trees, and believe it or not, the physical beauty of where we live compared to Denver. And, of course, paying twice as much for a house that is significantly smaller would have been a bummer.
Still, the Capitalist kept selling, and he had me convinced that we needed to go. At the end of process he blinked and said he was going on "instinct" to not take the position and stay in his current role. What???
8 months later, the Fortune 500 flew a plane into Denver, and shut the Divisional office down, taking the little dictator who cared enough to call the relocating spouse "fatty" (I’m making that up but it feels good) out of the company, and everyone who reported to him. We would have been sitting in Denver 8 months into the transition with double the mortgage and two less jobs.
The moral of the story for me as a spouse pondering relocation? Keep an open mind, take the trip, see the big picture, and at the end of the day, go with your gut. Especially if the boss insinuates that your gut is large…
Editor’s Note – Angela Dunn is a career prosecutor now serving a "sabbatical" as a copy editor for Fistful of Talent and the HR Capitalist. She thinks most of the FOT team is extremely talented, but the lead guy needs to work on his spelling, punctuation and listening skills. In a gender-related twist, she understands every NFL, NBA, and MLB reference the Capitalist makes, which balances out the relationship nicely.
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.