Crossroads: When is it time to move on?
Written by guest blogger Amy Broughton
Senior Human Resources Generalist at Hobsons
Connect with Amy on LinkedIn
In my role as a human resources professional, primarily in a generalist capacity, I get the opportunity to talk with employees as they leave the business. You guessed it – the exit interview. Probably not the most exciting part of my job, but I think most HR professionals would agree that it’s an important part of the employee lifecycle and not a good step to skip.
In the early days of my career, I felt as if I had to take on the role of “defense attorney” for the company. I wouldn’t question the decision of the departing employee outwardly or debate every response – I went through the typical process of going over the paperwork, asking the standard questions, answering their questions, etc. The defense attorney stuff all went on in my head. I’d analyze their answers and body language and wonder what they may be holding back…sometimes thinking to myself the old cliché, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
A More Matured Mindset
As I’ve matured and am more senior in my career, there’s been a shift in my thinking, and I often find these meetings fascinating… even refreshing at times. Sounds odd, right? A primary function of my job is to focus on retention, and I put a lot of work into making my organization a great place to work. However, a while ago something clicked and here’s the reality… everyone leaves. Look around the office. At some point, everyone you work with, including yourself, will be gone.
Whether it’s a personal decision, the company’s decision or destiny, there comes a time when we all move on. The question is not if, the question is when? I no longer take it personally when someone leaves or wonder if they are making the right decision; now I think of it as a crossroads of sorts.
So, how do you know when you’ve reached your crossroad?
Conduct a Personal “Pre-Exit” Interview
Gone are the days when employees stayed at the same company for decades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of an employee in 2012 was 4.6 years. I’m not saying you need to quit your job because you’ve been at the same company for five or more years. What I am doing is encouraging you to conduct a personal and professional evaluation of your current situation.
If you are starting to question your employment situation, conduct this mini, pre-exit interview with yourself!
1. Is your job draining you? Are you feeling emotionally, physically, and/or mentally drained? If your job is exhausting, leaving you with feelings of despair and creating high levels of stress, consider moving on. Your health and well-being should be your first priority.
2. On the flip side, are you still feeling challenged? Are you getting bored, dreading the tasks at hand, and planning your next weekend every Monday morning? It’s completely normal to have days or even weeks where Friday can’t come soon enough, but if you are living for the weekend every week, you may be ready for a change.
3. Do you have concerns with the stability of the company? Don’t jump ship just because of a few slow quarters in the financial results. Every company will have their ebbs and flows. However, don’t overlook the challenges either. Be mindful of the red flags and be prepared to get off the ship before it completely sinks.
4. Does your job still fulfill your financial needs? Your employer is not responsible for your personal budget issues and compensation discussions with your manager will never be successful if driven by your need to pay the bills. However, do your homework and know your worth. If you find that you are underpaid compared to similar benchmarks and your employer is not willing or able to make an adjustment, it may be time to look elsewhere.
5. Are you passionate about your work? You don’t need to absolutely LOVE your job every day. To be honest, I’m still trying to find my true passion, and I’d venture to bet that most working adults are in the same boat. In the meantime though, you should enjoy your work, care about doing a good job, feel that it’s meaningful and know the value it brings to the organization.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Jumping Ship
Like many big decisions we face, there are times when the answer is just not very clear. We weigh the pros and cons and make our best, educated guess or sometimes simply rely on fate. Whatever the case, when you come to the conclusion that you have met a crossroad in your professional life, here are some do’s and don’ts to consider:
- Stay if you’re unhappy. You will not benefit by staying in an unhealthy working relationship, and either will your employer.
- Job hop – stick it out at least a year or two if you can. Your resume will thank you.
- Burn bridges or take things too personally; treat it like any other business decision.
- Be honest with yourself, and others.
- Have a plan before you quit. “Take This Job and Shove It” worked for Johnny Paycheck, but it’s not the most professional way to handle things.
- Stay connected with your colleagues. The relationships you’ve built shouldn’t end simply because you’ve decided to move on. Staying connected always pays off – maybe even at the next crossroad you encounter.
Follow your gut – it will lead you to where you are meant to be!