there are always choices
I have made a career of changing jobs - all at one company. While I have taken two positions at other companies, I never consummated the decision. Why? Well maybe because I have refined my view of what is a good job or a bad job but more importantly, what is good or bad ... for me.
I always look at three areas in a job:
1. The right location
2. The right money
3. The right job
Let's take them one at a time.
I am willing to spend more time on airplanes than pilots. AND I have a family that is supportive of this life-style. Thus we are fortunate to live in a place we like and are willing to make the sacrifices required by my time away. It is worth it to us to live in a place where we feel safe, have access to the activities we enjoy and is affordable. I would rather travel on planes weekly then spend hours in the car daily.
This is a difficult one. How much money is enough? Can you pay the electric bill and have a functioning car? Or do you need to eat out every night, have the kids in the latest clothes or have the latest car on the market. We look at what we need to meet our needs while driving to earn what is deserved. More on this in a moment.
Now it get's complicated. What is the right job? Is a job just a conduit for a paycheck? Is it a social event? Is your current position simply a step in a continuum or is it the end point? For me, I evaluate the 'right job' as follows:
1. Is it satisfying to me
2. Do I make a significant contribution
3. Am I recognized for what I do
Again, one at a time:
Without personal satisfaction in my job, I am going through the motions. I find that it is what I get and give that counts in a job. If I am not learning or contributing in a real way, I get bored or disillusioned. I start looking for new avenues to contribute and this often results in a job change. I thrive on hard situations: start-ups, turnarounds or very unorganized situations. I do my best work at understanding the situation and creating the plan to fix it then driving that change through challenging and motivating talented people to go further than they ever thought they could. Sharing in the success with the people who did it is the reward and the satisfaction.
What is your role at work? Do people count on you? Does your Manager depend on you to deliver? It is amazing that in today's era of Greenspan inspired "increased productivity" that we have workers who really don't contribute. Who's fault is this? Is the individual not motivated enough to make the effort or is the company not wise enough to structure the position for true value? Probably a little of both.
In my twenty plus years, a few times I have found myself in a dead-end job. No real contribution. One time it was simply due to a business being closed and the lack of work created a vacuum. Another was when a new Boss came in and failed to grasp that using the talented and motivated people in the organization would make him successful. He thought they were a threat to him. Sad.
In these cases, when it became clear that I could no longer contribute to my standards, I looked around and found a new spot where I could. In every case, the move was for the better, significantly better!
This is moment of truth stuff. We have all had the situation where we do the work, come up with the idea, make the contacts and someone else takes the credit. Inexcusable that such people build themselves up on the shoulders of others. I have found that building others up on your shoulders brings significantly greater satisfaction - and business results.
However, having acknowledgment for your contribution is important. It is not ego, it is genuine feedback as to your contribution. Think about working day in day out and never getting any feedback - I mean nothing, no contact, no comments, nothing positive, nothing negative - only silence. I think this is covered in the Geneva prisoner of war convention!
Anyway, a simple thanks or a formal recognition is critical to building a team. Everyone needs it.
Accept it, change or quit. These are always the ultimate choices:
Can you live with a job with no recognition, little satisfaction or lack of contribution? If all three apply, then accepting it will be very, very difficult. Be honest with yourself but don't act emotionally. After all you probably have bills to pay, a family to support or at least you want to appear somewhat rational to your next employer! If you do accept the situation, accept it totally and stop complaining. If you continue to complain, your friends will be bored, you will alienate yourself from work colleagues and you will be unhappy. Accept the situation for what it is and get on with your life.
Wow. This is always tough. Changing any organization from within is hard, often impossible. Pick your fights. Know what you can and and cannot do. Accept what is within your influence or control and what is not. If you don't like the CEO, then you probably can't change that. If you don't like your working hours, maybe that is reasonable to change. If you want to be more challenged in your job, that is within your control. If you don't like flying, don't be a pilot. Understand what is the cause of your dissatisfaction and try to change those elements under your control. This is key.
OK, the time has come. You did everything (probably how you feel, but rarely true). You talked to everyone (except your Boss). Everyone agreed you are getting screwed. You don't have a choice. At this point step back. Can you accept the situation? Can you change what really bothers you? Do this step again. When you are certain that you really understand what is going on and your ability to influence it, make your decision to accept it or quit. Yes, sometimes there is no other way and it comes down to leaving. No shame in this. But do it with a plan.
Don't just jump ship in the middle of the ocean. Create a "Plan B" while you remain committed to doing your best in the job you are in. Take the high road. Don't be cheap or low-class. Do you current job to the best of your ability. If the situation is as bad as you think it is, taking the high road puts you significantly above others.
One final thought. As you get ready to walk out the door. Ask yourself this final question: Am I going to something or running from something. By now you have thought through your reasons for wanting to change. You understand if you can change the situation. And time has come to make your move. But before you close the door, make sure the place your going is not just another repeat of a bad situation, it is in fact a better place for you. In other words, are you running or going to something? This is probably one of the most difficult questions because it should force you to confront the base reasons for your motivation to leave. Is it them or you? Is it their problem or yours? Again, probably a little of both.
The point is to make sure that you go to a place where you can be successful. Understand what went wrong in the old place and learn. You were not perfect. You made mistakes. Just like they did. Learn and build on that knowledge and make the next move a better one!