Should I stay or should I go? And, I am not referring to the 1980s punk rock classic by The Clash.
Over the past couple of weeks I have had to deal with this question on quite a few occasions. An unprecedented number of coachees spoke with me about quitting their jobs.
I was in a coaching session in Hong Kong for a regional banking organisation two weeks ago, when two out of the four senior managers that I work with discussed leaving their job. Then, back in Kuala Lumpur, I had similar discussions with three more coachees.
Even closer to home, two of my own employees in separate businesses, both left their positions, just this past week.
How do you know when you should you leave a job, and how do you discern whether you have given it your best shot, before throwing the towel in.
I’ve had a corporate career that spans nearly 25 years, and when I reflect on my career, I know that I stayed in at least three jobs for way too long. All of them were a terrible fit, but I ploughed through beyond my “sell-by-date”.
Having reinvented myself, and now that I run my own a consulting, training and coaching outfit, it’s clearer to me why I stayed in those dreadful jobs.
In essence, my inaction was founded on worries about money, self-esteem, and a palpable fear of unemployment. My work has given me insights, which I now share with my trainees, coachees, and employees.
You must always cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset to your approach to your work life.
Entrepreneurs focus all attention on opportunities, innovation and the creation of new value for people around them, so consequently for themselves too. This is the best approach to employment. It makes you resourceful, creative, and agile, in building your career.
The first signal that indicates that you should move on is when you find yourself being unhappy for most of the day, while you do your work. If you feel mistreated, unhappy, depressed, and misunderstood for the most part at work, then it’s highly likely that your job doesn’t suit you.
However, the real difficulty here is to discern if it is an internal or external problem.
An internal problem is when “your head is not screwed on properly”. Meaning; you have unrealistic expectations of your ability, you do not work on managing other people’s perception of your value, and when you are downright disengaged.
Many people I meet are disconnected at work because they don’t know “why” they come to work.
There is a definite lack of purpose for many, and this has an impact on their ability to deliver the results that they have been contracted for.
Remind yourself that there is a contract that needs to be fulfilled on a daily basis, at work. Your work must actually produce results.
Now if you are certain that you are purpose driven, but yet at work you always feel unhappy, then it is time for you to pack your bags, cut your losses, and offer value elsewhere.
This is what an entrepreneur would do.
The next thing I would look out for is the levels of toxicity in your office.
No matter how engaging or empowering a company may be, there is a likelihood of some toxicity. You will continuously have to deal with people who do not share your values, and who will project their own insecurities in their interactions with you.
So, perfection is not what you should be looking for.
However, if you have a narcissistic boss who is an egomaniacal and self-serving jerk, or if there is a total lack of a collaborative spirit in the company, or if you find your leaders establish a divide and rule management style, then you know that the levels of toxicity in your work environment will be high.
Look at your job holistically, by understanding all the dimensions of it; from your leadership needs to your preferred personal style of work. This will show you if you are right for the role, or if you need to look for another job, where you can thrive or even leave this industry, for a new work experience, altogether.
Finally, are you being deployed correctly?
If your job forces you to use skills that aren’t enjoyable or easy for you, you’ll be miserable and drained every day, in your job. This means you should leave.
Although I would invite you think about this first. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you will learn to leverage on everything you’re given.
For example, the skills I use today have very little to do with my training to become a lawyer. But, my entrepreneurial attitude has allowed me to learn these new skills that now add tremendous value to me.
So, should you stay or should you go?
Be honest with yourself, and apply the entrepreneur’s mindset model. That test will give you the best personal insights as to what you should do.