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Should I Stay Or Depart?

By Michael VanBruaene, Big4.com Guest Blogger I recently coached someone who was considering whether or not to resign his current position. The following was a base for starting and guiding our discussions.  You or a colleague may also find this useful. There can be a lot at stake in considering whether or not to depart an employer.  Before we make a decision, if we have that discretion, we should consider who we are, why we may want to stay, and reasons to depart that are hopefully positive in nature and related to a new and better position. Who Am I?  The starting point for any decision about our work is to know, as best we can, who we are.  To help us approach this knowledge we can ask ourselves questions such as:

  • What naturally interests and motivates me?
  • What types of activities come naturally and easily for me?
  • In what types of activities do I become easily immersed and lose-track-of- time?
    • What types of work are closely related to these activities?
    • What is the level compensation I can expect for this type of work or something similar?
  • With what types of work, or companies, am I likely to have generally shared experiences and viewpoints with other employees?
  • What types of work am I not capable of doing?
  • What types of work conditions would not be a good fit, e.g. structured or unstructured work environment, working from home, deadlines?
  • Is my work simply work, or is it a calling from a place that is the source of meaning and identity; and how will this understanding be used in my decision-making? 

Why Would I Want Stay?  We should not be too quick to depart an employer.  Sometimes a current painful feeling or circumstance is generalized into a belief that too much is wrong and that we have to depart as soon as possible.  Before we decide one way or the other, we can ask ourselves these types of questions:

  • To what extent is my current work a good fit for me? (See the section above “Who Am I?”)
  • How competitive is my pay?  Is it amount that is satisfactory at my employer; and is it appropriate for my level of responsibilities?
  • Is my current employment a good place for me to be at this point in time in my work life; and personal life?
  • Why am I doing this work? How did I end-up here? To what extent was it chance and to what extent did I meet a lot of the criteria for being selected, i.e. I was a good fit?
  • To what extent am I involved in strategically important work? If not currently important to the company, could it soon be?  And if not, how precarious is my position should I stay?
  • If my current position is precarious is there another position and area of the company in which I could work?
  • How happy/unhappy am I? Is this a relatively temporary experience, or could it last for indeterminate amount of time?
  • How am I perceived by company decision makers? To what extent do they care if I stay or depart?
    • Would any of them do something that might convince me to stay?
  • How do I feel in my soul about this work and company?

Why Would I Want To Depart?  It’s important to have a good forward thinking reason(s) to depart our current employer.  To simply resign because circumstances are not sufficiently satisfactory may be a short term solution to immediate pain, without addressing underlying factors that may become prevalent in our next work circumstances. Ideally there should be something more than just being relieved to depart.  We should be “departing towards” work that is better.  Some questions you can ask yourself are;

  • What is going on that is causing me to want to depart? Is it my performance, the company’s product/service performance, management actions I don’t like?
    • Is my pay unsatisfactory?
  • Am I in imminent danger of being terminated and should I be looking for a new position with another company, sooner rather than later?
    • Should I be doing more networking?
  • Should I have new employment established before resigning?
  • Do I want to depart because there is a better, and tangible/certain, opportunity with another company or on my own?  Should I stay until this is a certainty?
  • How much more satisfied would I be in other employment?
  • Are the reasons for considering a departure the real problem or are they symptoms of underlying issues?
    • Is it a matter of a bad fit, or a bad employer?
  • If there is a new employer “in-the-works” does the position match-up relatively well with my skills, background and interests?
    • Is the pay satisfactory?
  • Am I anticipating upcoming new work in a positive manner? Hopefully, I am not seeing it as “just another job”.  Although sometimes that’s all that there is and I have to be thankful for it.

Find Someone With Whom You Can Think-Out-Loud And Discuss Your Thoughts.  Discussing these questions with someone can be very helpful.  The discussing and probing process will help you to clarify your thoughts and decision-making.  The key is to meet with someone who is not going to lead you down a narrow decision-making path and/or tell you what you should do. Michael VanBruaene was a KPMG Director and blogs at “Michael VanBruaene – Pragmatic Approaches To Move You and Your Organization Forward”.  

Michael VanBruaene.  How can I help you? How can we collaborate? See the services I provide and other organization and personal development tools and articles at www.AdvancingYourOrganization.com.  Contact me at MichaelVanBruaene@AdvancingYourOrganization.com.

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