You’ve had it with your job. You’re demoralized, stagnant, underpaid, overworked, bored, and/or unappreciated. You’ve decided – you’re out of here!
But before you hand in that resignation letter or share with your boss those choice words running around your head, perhaps you should take a step back and make sure you’re leaving for the right reasons. Many people quit a job based on emotion, when frustrations are high or they’ve had a particularly bad day. Circumstances such as these do not often lead to clear thinking or actions.
You may have heard the saying: “Wherever you go, there you are.” Consider for a moment that maybe, just maybe, a portion of the reason your job is not enjoyable right now can be attributed to your choices, actions, or attitude. Who’s to say that the same thing won’t happen in the next job?
It may be wise to first explore some alternative ways of looking at your current position.
- Maybe your manager isn’t all bad – One of the primary reasons people leave their jobs is their direct manager. While your supervisor may not be as supportive as you like, or see things the same way, is he really intentionally trying to make your life miserable? Chances are, he has never received solid management training, or communications between the two of you have gone awry. Try looking at a strained relationship with your manager as an opportunity to work on your communication, influence and people skills to repair the relationship. The upside? A better working relationship and a great success story to tell. If it doesn’t work and your boss really is someone you can’t work with productively, ask yourself if a transfer to another part of the company would serve you better than starting over in a new organization?
- Career progression is what you make of it – another common reason for resigning is lack of opportunity to progress, but many employees expect opportunities to be handed to them. This is your career, so take charge and look for opportunities to develop your skills and contacts, even in unexpected places. If you are aware that you need a skill or some experience to get to the next level, it is often easier to leverage your knowledge and relationships at your current company to gain what you need to make that next step. Have conversations with your mentors about where you want to go, and what you’ll need to get there, then volunteer for or ask for those opportunities to grow.
- Job responsibilities can be negotiated – sometimes we make assumptions about the flexibility in the job description without bothering to ask or make a case for change. While this does depend on your field and job specifics, it might be possible to persuade the company to create a new, needed position or realign job responsibilities. If you make the pitch, be sure to show the win-win benefits of what you’re proposing (identify increased efficiencies, ability capitalize on new business opportunities, enhanced customer service, and so on).
- Are you running away from something or toward something? When we throw up our hands and walk away from a situation without trying to remedy it, our reason for leaving is based on avoidance. The world has a funny way of putting us back in a situation that we didn’t learn from, so there is a chance you’ll find yourself in a similar situation in the near future. Take the time to objectively think about what is going on, what’s not working and why, and your own role in the situation. Then clarify what you really want. Moving toward a vision for the future rather than away from something you don’t like makes a significant difference to where you end up next.
When you can take a step back, breathe deep, and consider your current role objectively, sometimes you realize there is more potential there than you could see when you steamed out of that last meeting. While you may still end up turning in your letter of resignation, at least you will do so calmly and knowing clearly why you’re quitting, that you’ve done everything you can to resolve the situation, and that you are planning a graceful exit. And that is a positive way to move on.