During the past couple of years, there has been a great deal of pent-up demand to conduct a job search for greener pastures and the elusive "perfect boss." Due to high unemployment, many who have been fortunate enough to have a job - have stayed on. They are now pondering if it's wise to start looking. However, the adage, "look before you leap," is always wise to consider.
With unemployment rates experiencing a great deal of volatility in recent months, "to quit or not to quit?" may have crossed your mind. The only problem I have seen over the years is when people "leap" as a kneejerk reaction, before looking closely at the issues and possibilities at hand.
Because this is such a complex question, this blog will focus on the merits of staying in your current position. Please see my other blog on "10 Signs It's Time to Quit Your Job."
Arguments for Staying, at Least for Now
Problems can reappear in the next job if you don't take the time to at least examine what's wrong with your current job. I often address conflict resolution in my work and research (please scroll page), because these skills are timeless: you can apply them in work and in life, wherever you go.
And there are some practical risks associated with leaving. For example, seniority has its merits: it's harder for an employer to let go of an someone who's been trained and has a deep knowledge of the job, company culture and is integral to a team. As a "newbie," you are a little more dispensable if you make mistakes. That's not to say you should stay put at all costs. But too often, employees are lured by tempting job descriptions and offers -- before looking at possible tweaks to their current positions that would make their workday more enjoyable.
Take a Chance Before You Leap
Early in my own career, I thought I was going to leave a job because I felt I hit a communications wall with one of my supervisors and didn't want to rock the boat. I started looking at job listings, but soon discovered I was not alone.
I persevered further with my boss, and began an open, diplomatic and non-confrontational dialog with her. Things improved vastly. I was not only able to stop a problem that was persisting for a couple of months, but was able to advance steadily. My peers were grateful that I was proactive, too, as it helped clear a career path for them as well.
Review Issues and Possibilities in Bite-Sized Pieces
If you examine the scenario in smaller, "digestible" pieces you can make the best decisions:
• Create a "Solutions" Document. Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper or computer generated document. Analyze the "Problems" on the left column, such as "Not advancing," or "Not getting visible projects." Create a "Solutions" column that corresponds to "Problems" on the right column. This might include such actions as "Upgrade skills," "Present skills set to boss," or "Prepare document listing my capabilities and present to boss," and so on.
• Dig Up Your Skills Inventory. Your own varied skill set may not be top of mind for you because of the routine you're in, and they may be of value to the company in ways that upgrade or refresh your position. If they're in the back of your own mind, your boss certainly isn't aware of them.
Do you have untapped computer, marketing, strategic, IT, presentation, training or other skills to offer the company? You might even want to consider a lateral move that incorporates some of your skills, but includes some new ones that you can quickly add.
• "Jam" the Negative Syndrome. Walk in the next morning as if you've started a new job. Instead of coming to work with the same negative outlook or routine, act as if it's your first day and have something to learn from each person with whom you interface (because you very likely do!) Your positive disposition might gradually shift things your way.
• Examine What's Right. Forgive and forget any petty "wrongs" by coworkers or bosses. Be open to the ideas of others. While you're at it, play down what's wrong with your job. Use humor to put uptight coworkers at ease. We all know no one is perfect, including ourselves.
• Explore What's Behind the Facade. I once worked with someone who was very quiet and seemingly unapologetic. I perceived her as aloof. But once I got to know her, I learned that she was really just very shy - and in fact fearful of me as a manager. Once I discovered this (and I was quite surprised), I saw her in a whole new light. I made an extra effort to make her feel more comfortable in reaching out to me.
When in doubt or when you hear that inner voice telling you something is wrong, it doesn't hurt to have a frank discussion with the co-worker or even boss. You may be surprised.
First ask yourself if this is a situation that might possibly reoccur - whether it's a bad boss, impossible coworker, lack of communication or your underutilized talents. You don't want to go to the trouble of changing jobs only to experience the workplace equivalent of the film, Groundhog Day.
Please see my other blog on 10 Signs It's Time to Quit Your Job. Until then, you might take a few exploratory walks around your own backyard and see what you find.