3 Questions you should ask yourself before leaving your job.
It is true that for all of us in the workplace, there comes a time that we have to make a decision to leave. For some of us, that could be on day one.
I know a fellow (let’s call him Roger) who left before morning tea on his first day in a new job. He arrived at his new job full of enthusiasm and excitement only to find that the job he applied for (a creative role in a newish techy organisation) actually belonged to another person. The rub was the “Company” hadn’t told the existing employee. After some misplaced hostility towards Roger, a very awkward meeting with the two job owners and the Manager Roger decided that he would exit stage left gracefully…….
In all likelihood Roger avoided a disastrous Management environment, if his first experience at the Company was anything to go by.
Fortunately, most of us survive our first day and often get through our first week, etc. But inevitably, there will come a moment when we need to decide it’s time to go. But how do we know it’s the right decision?
A line in the Sand
Before I get into the questions to ask yourself I do want to highlight that for me there is a short list of workplace issues that represent “lines in the sand” regarding staying in the workplace. These would include:
- I am unsafe at work, and it is known and nothing is being done;
- My workplace engages in activities that are illegal or immoral;
- Going to work makes me unwell; and
- The workplace values clash violently with my own values.
For the most part, in my own experience, the issues above don’t represent typical workplace experiences and I hope, only represent a few. Nonetheless, it’s still worth considering what your “line in the sand” matters are.
What questions do I need to ask myself before leaving a job?
So what do you need to ask yourself before you are leaving your job? I think that there are three key questions.
- Am I pissed off and is it because of my boss?
Anecdotally and statistically people leave their bosses, not their businesses. Eventually humans get so fed up with the perceived (pick any of the following): narcissistic, angry, incompetent, passive, weak, dominant, micro-managing, sleazy, disorganised, bitchy, arrogant, ignorant, overly happy, lazy behaviours of our boss that we will scream if we have to sit in another useless meeting or toolbox with them. We put very high expectations on our bosses and when they don’t live up to it, boy do we go to town.
Now I am not saying that you should feel good about the fact that every Friday afternoon your boss dumps a load of work on your desk (that has been sitting on theirs since Monday) and asks you to have it done for Monday’s operations meeting. But I am saying that you can learn a lot more from a crap boss than you think. And, if all other things about your job are great, have a think about if leaving because of one person, is a good thing for you. If anger and frustration are constantly present then yes, it might be time to dust off the CV. But if you are just pissed because you want to be having drinks and you are stuck doing a report, you might want to think more broadly.
- Where am I at in other places in my life?
The first 3-6 months in a new job are tricky. It’s like getting a new roommate; you are testing each other out, seeing if it’s a good fit, working out if you can live with the fact that he leaves the bathroom in a mess. The same goes for work, as not only do many of us face a statutory probationary period, but we are also testing out the place we work for. I have gone searching for statistics and I have found one as high as 31% of people leave their new workplace in the first six months. Now, I’m not sure that it’s as high as 31%, but I do know that it’s higher than most other periods of employment (work anniversaries are another one). So, if you are having a baby in the next three months, have a series of exams, are getting married, have to care for a child or parent and may need some additional time off, going through a divorce or have recently experienced a trauma (you know, any of life’s big stressors, list here) it might not be the best time for a job change. Have a think about the other things going on in your life and weigh them up against the fact that the first 3-6 months may be a bit uncertain in the new gig… can you afford the uncertainty at the moment?
- Is moving going to get me what I want?
If you are moving for money or the opportunity for advancement (often what people put when actually they just hate their boss, but don’t want to burn bridges), work out if you will get it by moving jobs. If you work in mining and this year because things were slow in the industry, no one got big pay rises, moving to another mining company probably isn’t going to get you cashed up. Make sure that any move is moving you to where you want to be, not just getting you away from where you are. Think seriously about what is important, more money will generally mean more time at work, are you prepared for that? Ensure you are clear about what you want and ask yourself, ‘Is moving jobs the only way to make it happen?’
If you can answer those questions with relative comfort, then maybe yes, its time to start looking.