Janie had done some career self-analysis to figure out what she wanted, and had determined that her current job was not it. Though secure in her work as an executive assistant with a large healthcare firm, she felt she could do better. So, as she told me on our call, “I’m jumping ship.”
I asked her what I think is a very powerful question:
How might you stay where you are and get what you want?
On our call, Janie must have been thinking long and hard, because there was a very long pause. “I hadn’t thought about it; I’m so anxious to try something new,” she finally drawled. It had not occurred to her that people can often get what they want if they ask for it. Janie wanted a more project- management, data-focused role. So, she was going to give notice and go job hunting.
When asked about the staying possibilities, it was a bit funny to her that she had another option. “I could talk to my boss, Mary; she is really supportive of me. I’ve been thinking of enrolling in Project Management Professional classes to prep for the exam, and have aced some business coursework online that brings me to just two classes short of my Bachelor’s. I think Mary might advocate for me to do the PMP through work. And there are Project Manager and Business Analyst positions across corporate.
It’s often green on your side.
It served Janie well to think about this before leaving her current employer. People often have regrets about quitting with nothing in the works. And if you take action to move out and your employer gets wind, trust me; even when your company counter-offers, it often doesn’t end well statistically, even if you stay awhile. The horse is out of the barn; dynamics are just not the same.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it happen. Regret. Buyer’s Remorse. Grass is Greener. If you’ve hopped from company to company in a short span of years, ask yourself why. Of course, today’s workplace is not that of what I call the Golden Watch Age. It’s unusual for folks to stay 30 years with the same company and retire. And there are many legitimate reasons for people having several jobs in a short period. They moved. The job was eliminated due to reorganization. There are other valid explanations.
It’s still a good idea to ask “why” if you’ve been hopping around between companies. It’s just a plain good idea to examine all potential for staying where you’re at. Why? Because you’re there, and you might make it into a darn-near perfect place to be.
Mel wished he had explored before jumping.
Mel was offered –and immediately accepted, a position with another company, because it offered him his first management role, along with more pay. Of course, he thought all would be great; and for a few weeks, it was. After several months, he was not feeling the love.
- “Nobody listens to my ideas here. I’m the new kid on the block, and they make that obvious.”
- “I can’t believe the red tape here. You have to claw through multiple layers to even get communication started. It was so easy to make decisions at my old company.”
- “The extra money isn’t worth it, because I don’t fit in with this micro-managed, siloed culture.”
- “I really miss my former boss and colleagues. We all worked together well; we got things done.”
- “I just called my old boss, Joe. He told me that a new position is being created in the Textiles division; and that I would have been at the top of the list had I still been there. I can’t believe I never even asked him about opportunities. I wish I had stayed.”
Before you quit, take time to think about why you’re leaving. Are they for the right reasons? Assess the risk of asking for what you want at your current company.
Ask yourself another powerful question – one of my favorites: “What‘s the worst that can happen?” What if you asked for more money; and got it? A promotion; and got it? Three days a week working from home; and got it?
In some settings, you can threaten your current job by asking for more. I don’t know your situation. If you think you’d hear “no” to your requests, weigh that risk against a discreet look at the other side of the grass.
So if you know what you want, can you stay where you are and get it? If there’s a “maybe” answer, perhaps best next steps are exploring that before broad jumping to that supposedly greener grass. You might be standing on it.