Your relationship to work is often like a romantic one. You commit to it with the best of intentions – it seems like a good match, promises are made, you look forward to the good times, and you talk yourself out of how bad the bad times are sometimes. In short, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you just grow apart. I’ve recently spent some time coaching someone through a resignation. The details of how to resign well (yes there is a good way to do it) is something I will come back to again. But there’s more to leaving your employer than simply sliding your resignation letter across your manager’s desk. It’s a process which starts many months, occasionally years, before you actually accept another job offer or simply decide to leave.
So how do you know when it’s time to breaking up with your boss?
Letting go of the ideal you had when you accepted your job isn’t easy. I’ve been there myself and it’s been much harder than most relationships I’ve ended. There are all sorts of complications – relationships with colleagues, feelings of responsibility, fear of the unknown. But sometimes you have to ask yourself one thing … “does this job give me what I need?” You’ll note I’m using the word “need” not “want” and this is really important. Look out for future posts about some tools you can use to help you figure out what this is but for now it’s just a concept I want you to think about. This could simply be about money for you – but money normally just represents something else – it’s what money affords which is important. All too often we stay in a holding pattern with our jobs. We could have a list of things we want – more responsibility, less responsibility, promotion, new skills, different working pattern – or yes, money. Sometimes, these could even be known by your boss and you’ve agreed that this is something you should aim for – but for whatever reason it just doesn’t happen. It may simply be that your manager or your company of even the job you do just doesn’t have it in its power to give you these things. You can hang in there and hope that it will change, but it’s like staying in a relationship when you both want different things. Ultimately you have to move on.
Breaking up is hard to do and in the current economic climate it may seem like a risky strategy – and you’re right, it is. But there are no guarantees with any job. Would you stay in a loveless marriage because of financial stability and fear of finding another relationship? Okay, some people would – but I don’t think that anyone would advocate for that being the most desirable option. After all, your partner always has the option to turn around and dump you at any point no matter what your intentions may be – and your employer is no different.
So while I’m not suggesting that you we all quit are jobs – what I am suggesting is that we all do a stock take occasionally – healths check of our relationship with our employer and our jobs if you will. Would yours get the all clear?