Liz Truss’ disastrous tenure as British Prime Minister has lessons for all of us. Yes really.


By Quentin Fottrell

Do you like your job? If not, these tips may help you get out.

It wasn’t fun while it lasted.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss will be Britain’s shortest prime minister. On the steps of No 10, the embattled leader said on Thursday she would step down next week once a successor was chosen, having served just 44 days as prime minister.

First, the errors. Last month, his government announced tax cuts of 45 billion pounds ($50 billion) without even saying how the government would pay for them or asking for an independent analysis of how they would affect borrowing and debt.

Markets were rattled by news of the mini budget, the pound plunged, the Bank of England intervened to stabilize the bond market after sharp increases in bond yields threatened some pension funds and Truss sacked its minister finances.

What led to such a rash decision? Some people can probably relate to the new boss who – out of ego, self-will or naivety – in an effort to prove his worth, tries to fix things that weren’t broken and end up making existing problems worse.

Another no-no: the manner in which she quit – her explicit lack of accountability and/or reference to the effect of her ‘mini-budget’ on UK markets – may not be the best way to quitting a job after crashing and burning so spectacularly.

Truss said she took the job at a time of great uncertainty. “Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our entire continent,” she said.

She tried to put a brave face on a bad situation. ‘We stuck to energy bills and cut National Insurance, and set out a vision for a low-tax, high-growth economy that would take advantage of Brexit freedoms,’ she added. .

Inflation in the UK is around 10% year-on-year, higher than the annual rate of around 8% in the US. The truss was not entirely accurate in its categorization of Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union – bringing about “freedoms”.

About those freedoms: Recent research by UK-based think tank the Resolution Foundation and the London School of Economics said Brexit has led to higher inflation due to depreciation, increasing household cost of living.

“Liz Truss was right to step down,” said Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University. “Once there is talk of when rather than if you step down, the time to step down becomes now so that a new leader can be chosen.”

Truss, of course, was pressured by her party colleagues to quit. “Leadership requires the ability to persuade, bring people together and move people, and it’s incredibly difficult if no one expects you to be there in a few months,” Bloom said.

Bloom measures uncertainty in the UK and found it to be 10 times the normal level. “The Brexit vote was a decision to leave the EU with no plan for what was to come, and without a plan the government went from crisis to crisis,” he said.

When it’s time to leave

It’s good to know when it’s time to leave: arguably, staying in power would be bad for conservatives, given Truss’ low approval rating. Nor does the UK need a lame Prime Minister in a time of economic turmoil.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, John Coleman said there are good times to quit your job. Among them: when the role no longer encourages your growth and you are actively looking for ways to avoid your job. Both were true of Truss.

On Monday, she was absent during parliamentary questions on the reasons why she had dismissed her finance minister. Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, told the opposition: ‘The Prime Minister is not under a desk. Not literally, anyway.

Other signs it’s time to quit, according to Coleman’s guide: you regularly approach work with exhaustion, exhaustion, or dread (see above), and your workplace has become unhealthy (Truss had a 10% approval rating, the worst of all prime ministers).

Coleman said if you develop bad habits, leave. The Guardian compared Truss’ “bad habits” to those of his predecessor, fellow Tory Boris Johnson, citing a “Johnson-like tendency to rush into new policies and be vague or inaccurate with facts”.

So what happens after you quit smoking? Do not look back. Have no resentment. Let go of grudges. Don’t send a scorched earth email. Even if you think you’ve burned all your bridges, you might still have one or two. Don’t take a match to these.

Remember, you are not your job. Take the time to enjoy the view. If you don’t have a view, have fun observing the lives of others nearby. Life goes on. You don’t have to make hasty decisions about what to do next. Neither did Liz Truss.

“Not everyone is created equal when it comes to quitting smoking. If you’ve made enough progress, your options often come with a selection of ways to save face,” said Tessa West, professor of social psychology at the University of New York and author of “Jerks at Work”. .”

One of West’s colleagues was recently asked to leave a high-level academic position. Her leaving flowers came with a note that read, “We’d love to give you the ability to control the narrative around your outing.” West says, “Who gets that?”

When a new life awaits you

Assuming you have some money in the bank, this could be an opportunity to write that book, take a vacation, resume your studies, or even indulge in hobbies you loved to do before. get caught up in the frantic race. Tennis ball or pickle, anyone?

“When you see the writing on the wall, it’s a good idea to get out,” says career counselor Lynn Berger. “It all depends on how much value you’re going to bring to the new role and what accomplishments you’ve had in the past.”

If you need to jump on the next job right away and you’ve only been there for a few months, Berger recommends not mentioning it on your resume. Too many awkward questions to answer. If it’s more than six months, tell the truth.

Erik Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management, tells people to work things out upfront when interviewing for another job. It says you should “own” past problems and describe how those problems could have been solved.

Quitting, even publicly, is better than “quietly quitting” and staying in a job you don’t like and think is toxic. Quitting smoking quietly – doing as little as possible while getting a full paycheck – is bad karma and bad for your self-esteem.

“We tend to cling to external causes in situations like this rather than blaming our failures on ourselves, which makes it difficult for us to pinpoint the precise causes. And, truth be told, there’s often a confluence of causes,” West said. said.

Truss could have held out longer, perhaps, in hopes of turning the tide of his government. During a hostile question time with the prime minister on Wednesday, she said somewhat prodigiously: “I’m a fighter, not a quitter.”

Stopping, however, is not a dirty word. It is not an act of failure; it is an act of empowerment. It tells the world (and you) that you are bigger than your job, that you are more than a watchmaker and that your happiness, your health and your life come first.

Instead of asking, “Why did I fail?” West recommends asking, “What are my goals for my next job and what, specifically, will I need to be successful?” And, yes, that could include support like an executive assistant, a good boss, and/or a stronger team.

“Sometimes that means having a boss who clearly understands the difference between the skills you don’t have but can understand, and the ones you really need hands-on training for,” she adds. “And sometimes that means a clear feedback plan.”

There should come a time when you can laugh at the situation and/or hopefully at yourself, and learn some lessons. Anthony Scaramucci’s tenure as then-President Trump’s White House communications director lasted 10 days.

On Thursday, he tweeted (TWTR): “Liz Truss lasted 4.1 Scaramuccis.” Laughter helps relieve stress and release tension. A miserable job + time = comedy. Or, at the very least, it should provide much-needed perspective.

Finally, a key tip for the next job: know what you’re getting into. Don’t take your colleagues by surprise, like Truss did with his mini-budget of tax cuts for the rich. Take a lesson from his short-lived premiership: Always be prepared

-Quentin Fottrell


(END) Dow Jones Newswire

10-23-22 1253ET

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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