I read about Nicole Kidman’s pre-nuptial agreement (“Nicole Kindman in Love, Not Stupid”…love the headline!). Let me preface this little blog post so as not to tick off anyone, married or not, with or without pre-nuptial agreements. I don’t know jack about marriage. Never been married; though I can’t help but quiz my married friends about theirs (this past weekend poor Nancy was questioned on the dynamics of clothes shopping for a husband that does not care about fashion). Personal relationships are interesting, especially the ones one enters by choice.
Which makes me wonder about career pre-nups. Hey, it could happen. The way I see it, pre-nups are about protecting something (assets) and also about the balance of power, which may or may not be related to the assets but could also have something to do with looove. You enter an employment relationship much like you enter a marriage (or other committed relationship). There’s the courtship…unfortunately, someone’s got to woo someone else, poor wooer. An offer is made, some negotiation may take place. Families are consulted. There’s a ceremonial signing of a piece of paper (though the pen with the feather is totally not necessary for the offer letter…it is a nice touch if you can swing it). Someone moves in and there’s a honeymoon period. After that, there’s definitely a settling in and assignment of roles. Some may even ask themselves “what have I gotten myself into?”.
Aside from the standard non-disclosure (“don’t talk about our relationship with your friends”) and non-compete (“if we get divorced, I get the kids”), I wonder what other aspects of the employment marriage we would put on paper if we could. And I wonder how the concept of “balance of power” would impact that.
I read recently about someone who wouldn’t work for a company if they asked him to put together a resume (say what?). That’s clearly someone who feels that the balance of power in the employment relationship is in his favor. Of course, that is assuming that companies will always want him more than he wants them and I think that’s a tad short-sighted (and, well let’s say not super gracious). You never know when you will fall in love with another company, one that will require you follow some rules of courtship. “I’m not looking right now, thanks” is one thing, “I’ll never work for a company that asks me to write a resume” is another. Professional courtesy and humility are qualities companies should be looking for in any new hire. Anyway, I digress.
The balance of power can tilt either way, and obviously, as an employee, rewards follow performance. So let’s not make this about a cash compensation schedule. But let’s say that, hypothetically, of course, you were in a position to craft a pre-nup for an employment relationship. What are the things that you would ask for as part of the working relationship?
Early in my career, I may have said training (because I needed it!). But now, at this stage in my career, I can’t think of anything that impacts the way I feel about work more than the quality of the people I work with. So in my scenario, I’d look for the opportunity to build or select a team. I can kid about who had the balance of power when I joined Microsoft (though I did get to pick between two teams, which was nice). But this is an imaginary scenario. What are you looking for? A window office? A manager that runs interference on your behalf when things get tough? The option to telecommute? Outside of the offer package, what would you include in an employment pre-nuptial?
(I’m sure our legal department would want me to make very clear that this is an imaginary exercise).