How often have you heard conversations at social gatherings coming around to how frustrated people are at their place of work? And how desperate they are to make the jump?
The themes are fairly common. That people are not appreciated, working crazy hours, underpaid, un-recognised, unappreciated and many other “uns”. Very often it is also about people: toxic bosses, politics at play, freeloaders and incompetent team members. Ever heard “if I was the CEO, then the company would rock”?
Many of these complaints may be well founded but the reality of the job market right now is that, unless you’re pushed, you shouldn’t be in a hurry to jump. I say jump rather than leap because if you get the calculation of this move wrong it could be fatal.
The same applies to entrepreneurs or solopreneurs. If you find that you are in a situation where you’ve been retrenched, you may have no choice but to start up your own show. There are cautionary steps you should apply even under these circumstances.
Let’s focus on the former situations for now. To figure out if it’s time to jump you should push the giant “pause button” and take the time out, in a quiet space, to consider a few key questions. Put yourself on the couch!
Ask yourself if there is anything within your power that you can do to change the current situation. Be honest. Review your lament and then unpack what can be done.
Are you in one of the following situations?
1. Work is tedious.
Do you feel bored? That your work has become repetitive and feels like a tedious task? Are you no longer having fun, growing or developing?
If this sounds like you, then I sympathise. There is nothing worse then that feeling of dragging yourself out of bed to go and do more of the same stuff that you really do not enjoy.
Next step? Complacency is a killer. So take action. It’s time for you to create an evolution of your own. Truth is, your manager and those further up the line are preoccupied with their own demons. So if you are sitting at your desk, looking and feeling miserable and waiting for someone to recognise your unhappiness and hidden brilliance, it is not going to happen. You need to take ownership and take action to change things.
If your work is truly routine and undemanding then you should have a wonderful reserve of brainpower that is not being used. So learn something new, something that can justify a promotion or role change. Look around. See what positions there are in the company that might appeal to you and set out to find out what it takes to get that job. Get the skills and then start promoting yourself so that you get recognised as the ideal candidate.
If you don’t see any opportunities within the organisation, then look further afield. Rewind and go through the same process outlined above. Use the time and energy freed up by daily repetition to develop yourself to the point where you can leave for a better position.
One final check before you do. Moving to another company, in the same position, in the hope of greater stimulation is not the answer when your dissatisfaction is with the role you serve.
So check that it is not merely your attitude that is the problem.
You might be pleasantly surprised that, by upping your energy and projecting a more positive approach will attract a different response at work.
If the only options are more of the same then I suggest you find something outside of the 9 – 5 routine to stimulate your mind and satisfy your need for progress. This could be a hobby or becoming part of a social or sporting community. Once again you are likely to find a big shift in your energy levels, outlook and profile at work.
2. There is no chance of advancement or promotion.
This is another very fair reason for wanting to move and it shows that you are ambitious. However don’t presume or assume that the powers-that-be should be aware of your ambitions. If you don’t ask you’ll never get. So book a coffee meeting with HR, your boss, the CEO and let them share in your ambitions.
To ensure a good outcome prepare for the meeting. Make sure that the lasting impression is as an asset worth considering rather than a petulant employee. Avoid opening conversations such as “…I’m bored and I want to know what my future with the company is”. Prepare a great story about what you have to offer and where you visualise growing to within the company. Sell yourself, share your ambitions and then see what comes back.
If you get a positive reaction, don’t leave it there. Ask what it is that you would need to do or have to be in a position for them to consider you for promotion. And then ask if there is anyone who you can work with as your mentor or to assist you in achieving this. Who knows, they may even offer to pay for further studies. Wouldn’t that be great?
On the flip side, if the response is negative – well then, there’s your answer. It is time for you to look further afield. Plan this carefully and take your time. You might first need to accumulate those new skills. Importantly, when you go for the next interview, remember the lessons you have learnt and ask about promotional and future opportunities and what their policy is with regards to development of their staff.
3. Your boss or the work environment is toxic.
People are the issue here. If you are experiencing toxic people I suggest you read a book titled “Taming Toxic People” by David Gillespie. In it he educates the reader about true Psychopaths. I mean literally. Not the misunderstood version you might use when you really don’t like someone and are looking for an adjective you can use in public.
The author shares his own experience and provides some sage advice. In brief, if you have a toxic boss then you should ensure you stay safe until you can leave! If you are the victim of a true Psychopath neither you nor anyone else is going to be able to change their base characteristics. And sadly the very profile of the Psychopath is often the stuff that got them the lead job in the first place! So, stay clear until you can clear out.
Learn from experience and when you go for your next job interview ensure that you get to meet your boss or the team that you will form part of. You certainly can’t ask the question outright but if you have suffered toxic people in the past your radar is likely to pick up on the warning signs immediately.
4. When “this job makes me sick” becomes reality and your health is suffering.
If the stress levels created by your work are having a direct impact on your wellbeing then it would be foolish to literally kill yourself working. If you are stuck and have no choice but to carry on then what you have to do is look for support and help in one form or another.
Here are three things you can do:
First up is your diet. Simply avoid fatty, high carb, fast foods and sugars. This alone will help you cope. Your body has a tough enough job trying to counter the effects of stress. Eating foods that only serve to clog up your veins and trigger sugar highs and lows is a handicap to the job already in hand.
The extra 15 minutes you spend the night before, preparing good, healthy, delicious lunch and snacks, will be well worth it and extend your wellbeing by years.
Next, aim for 7 hours sleep a night. You might think that the “mini binge watch” is helping you unwind before bed. Not so. Blue light stimulates the brain and while you might fall asleep quickly, you are unlikely to stay asleep. Create a new habit of preparing yourself in a calming, positive manner in order to get as much sleep as you can.
Exercise is the third. I know you were dreading that this was going to be the solution, in particular because you hate sport and have no gym membership and even if you do, you don’t have the time?
I’m not suggesting a full out marathon. All it takes is getting up from your desk every 45 minutes or so and walking up and down the steps for 5 minutes. Do this 4 times a day and you have built in the prescribed 20 minutes of exercise to keep your blood flowing and airing out your brain. Better still find a “stepping out” partner and help one another to develop this useful new habit. It would be even better if you could step out of the building and get some fresh air.
Finally please don’t try and be the hero. Share your situation with family and friends. Allow them to help in whatever way they can. Maybe it’s making your lunch for you or giving you the motivation to take a stroll for 20 minutes when you get home from work.
You don’t have to carry this load alone.
What about those of you who are fed up, feeling jumpy and want to step into the world of the Entrepreneur for yourself?
Well now, if you were pushed (for “pushed” also read: fired, retrenched or squeezed out) that is one story. You could be one of the many who find that the only answer is starve or start up a business of your own.
But for those who think running your own show means that you get to keep more the of the moolah, that it is much more exciting and that you are going to be the boss of your own time and on top of it that you are going to be the best boss ever – then think again and be very careful about jumping blindly.
Park your passion and dreamy visuals, rewind and do as much research as you possibly can to specifically find out what it takes to succeed in the sector you are looking at jumping into.
As a simple rule of thumb, calculate the time, effort and financial resources you think you will need and at least triple it. Seek out those who have already been very successful in this field and ask if they would mind being “interviewed” by you. I suggest approaching the most successful as they are least likely to feel threatened by a new entrant and are more likely to be generous with honest advice and information. Who knows, there may even be a few “hand-me-down” clients that they cannot take on, to get you started.
Finally dispel the idea that you are guaranteed to keep more of the moolah and have lots more free time. Your primary motivation for taking this jump should be that you have a clear goal and firm vision for what you want to achieve. Your purpose should drive you to commit the effort and investment and sustain your determination and staying power to see this through. Set the goals, choose the milestones, take one final reality check and then jump.
Starting a new business is a bit like having a baby. It looks like a lot of fun but you can never imagine the sleep deprivation and how enormous the commitment is until you have one of your own.
In summary, before you jump:
- Check if the problem is you rather than the job or the company
- Take the time to unpack your assets, skills, ambitions and the drivers that got you into this job in the first place. Where did you lose direction?
- Take a look around and see what opportunities lie in wait. First at home base and only then further afield.
- Do you have the skills to evolve into a new position or the jobs of tomorrow?
- What can you do to re-frame yourself, your ambitions and your future?
- What are the lessons you have learnt and how can you take these forward?
- Who can you ask for help or direction?
If you still need help then maybe you should consider attending one of my Deep Dive Personal Brand Building workshops. Have a look at the Events page or send me a mail to find out when the next one is.