Should I stay or should I go now? This question comes to our minds every now and then, especially around work anniversaries, birthdays, after meeting with old school friends, when we compare our achievements to others…and frankly, I believe it is a good question to ask yourself to check if you are still on the right path.
In part 1 of the blog, I have focused on key questions regarding your role and scope. Below, you can find the next set of questions covering your manager, your company and the money aspects of your decision.
What is your relationship with your manager?
No doubt, your manager is probably the most influential person at work, therefore setting an open and honest relationship between the two of you is critical for your engagement. His/her communication and leadership style can positively or negatively influence you at work. If your manager helps you discover your strengths area, and give you space to explore your boundaries, you can flourish. On the other hand, micromanagement can cause people to get frustrated and leave, especially if they are already experienced.
Typically, it is the manager who selects you, not the other way around, so it is important to actively shape this relationship. Many unnecessary conflicts arise because of a lack of clarity about communication and operating rules, the scope of responsibilities, or simply unspoken needs. You can proactively drive the agenda of your one-on-one meetings and suggest topics that are important for you to fix that. The sooner, the better. I bet, the vast majority of managers are not intentionally spoiling the relationship, they are more likely to be busy and focused on other important staff, or they may simply not be aware of what your needs and priorities are. So, share them, ask for feedback and support you need, and you are likely to build a strong relationship based on mutual trust.
However, if your efforts are not bringing positive results, or your characters do not match, you can always change your role and move to the other manager. It is much easier to change jobs than to change someone’s approach or character. If you decide to do so I would recommend searching internally first. It is a much higher cost to learn a totally new job in a new environment than reskilling in your current organization because you know the culture, the language and you have a network of supporters around you. It would take a while to build them from scratch again.
What are the prospects for your company?
In a volatile economic environment, it is important to work for an employer that is resilient to secure your work. Recent pandemic tested every company severely. Some sectors suffered more, some less, but everyone has been impacted. You can evaluate your employer by analyzing their reactions to the lockdown: agility in taking decisions and executing them, securing revenues, effectively managing costs and supporting their employees. If you feel your personal wellbeing matters, even during unfavorable economic conditions, it is a good indicator of the company’s culture.
Another important aspect is the future growth of your company. If the future direction is known, if the company is actively scanning the market trends to respond to arising needs and demands, you can feel you are in the right place. In a growing business, it is much easier to build a career than in a static company, where to be promoted you can only count on someone’s replacement.
Does your job speak your values?
If your company’s mission is clearly defined, it is easier to connect with that and feel that you are making a positive impact. For example, Aon’s mission is to empower economic and human possibility. We create positive social impact every day – driving innovation and economic growth and helping millions of people recover and thrive in the face of adversity. Therefore, every colleague, irrespectively of their role in Aon, in fact, supports people in need around the world.
At the individual level, it is very useful to define your mission statement and purpose based on the values that are the most important for you. If you do not have a clear personal mission statement, it is hard to define what drives you, not only at work. In my case, supporting others is critical for me to feel engaged. I can help others at my team level though development programs we implement, and at the company level by helping colleagues safely and smoothly go throughout their entire colleague lifecycle at Aon. Let’s be realistic, all jobs have got mundane elements that have to be completed every day. However, if you can identify at least one activity a day when you can clearly live your values, then you are in a good place.
What about money?
Money is a hygienic factor and typically matter more at the beginning of your career than later. You may decide to accept a lucrative job in a golden cage, or a role outside of your true interest, not matching your values, but not for long, otherwise, you will become frustrated and burnt out. Everyone can do every job, but the energy balance is an indicator of whether or not you are in the right place. I have stepped back twice in my career (including 30% salary decrease) to do things that interested me more or to learn new skills. I have also moved laterally without any salary change to broaden my horizon and discover what drives me through new experience. Money matters, but I would take it into account as the last factor, to confirm your decision, not the first. Otherwise, you may miss your dream job.
…So, what is next?
Based on my personal experience, I would recommend setting your priorities first to identify factors that matter for you the most at this particular stage of your career. Then, I would analyze an energy equation: how much you are eager to sacrifice to reach your goals because the second name of each change is cost – nothing comes without a price. It would be much easier to influence your current role and scope and transform it into your dream job than it would take to change your job. Similarly, it would cost less effort to build your career internally than externally. So before you decide to quit, make sure that you have explored all the options. Let’s make clever, informed and thorough decisions!