When to stay and when to go – will the grass be greener on a new job?

The grass is getting greener outside but it may not be greener in a new job. A colleague was lamenting the fact that one of her best friends at work had left the company and had taken a new position in another state. The rumor mill was grinding out tales of substantial signing bonuses and a big salary increase and she was feeling new job envy.


A departure like this always creates a ripple affect. It makes those left behind ask themselves “Should I be looking too? Am I missing out?” Well, the grass may not be greener.


I’m not a fan of staying in your job if you are miserable (more on that later) but I think switching jobs without careful consideration can create a career setback. If you are reasonably happy on your job and wondering if you should leave consider the following:


  • If you think you are leaving your problems behind by going to a new company, don’t be naïve. The new company will just present a new set of problems. If you are interviewing be sure to probe deeply into what problems they are hoping to solve in the first year. At least in your current role, you know what the problems are and what it will take to fix them.


  • You know the political network where you are and can tap it to help you with projects and knowledge. Going to a new employer forces you to start from scratch. It can take years to build a trusted group of advocates and in a new job, you are on your own until you prove yourself.


  • You’ve been operating within the culture you know and a new company presents a whole new landscape. Every culture has challenges and pitfalls. Doing a thorough job of investigating a new culture will help you to avoid problems later. Especially at managerial levels and above, culture fit is critical—it’s one of the big reasons people leave, or get fired, in the first few years.


  • If things go sour—for example, you don’t meet your goals in the first six months to a year, or you don’t get along with your new boss—you don’t have a track record to fall back on. I often hear about individuals who have left a job only to find the new job didn’t live up to its billing.  If you are investigating a new opportunity, ask a lot of questions about what is expected in the job. If you have any reservations, beware of the tendency to gloss over them in the excitement of the courtship.


  • Sometimes it’s the devil you know that’s better than the devil you don’t know. Take the economy and trends in your industry, for example. Make sure you do a thorough investigation about how the changing marketplace and economy is affecting the new industry you are thinking about entering.


  • It’s more than the money. Taking a new job primarily because it pays substantially more is often a mistake. The bloom comes off the rose quickly when you are in over your head, hate the job or resent the commute. Money is not a day-to-day motivator for most people and if you haven’t considered whether the new job is a good fit for your skills and interests, the money won’t matter. In fact, a fat paycheck can be a trap—you adjust your lifestyle to suit the added income and then you have golden handcuffs that bind you to a job you hate.


  • You develop friendships over the years at work. They go deeper than just a network or a contact and they provide you with a social component beyond work. They can be hard to replace and may take years to establish.


With all this said, you may be wondering, “But what are some valid reasons to leave your job?” Here are some to consider:


·        You have no opportunity for advancement. In spite of your attempts to apply for new postings, you keep coming in second. Or, maybe you are in a profession where you only want to move up in your specialty and everyone above you is there to stay. If you’ve made your interests known and nothing seems to be popping, it’s time to look elsewhere.


·        If your work/life balance is way out of whack, you are getting serious complaints from your significant others, and it isn’t going to let up any time soon, you may want to consider a switch. (But beware, a new job can be twice the work.)


·        If you are being treated with disrespect from those above you and it’s not an occasional slip, think about finding a healthier workplace. No matter what the pressure to perform, having your ego and self esteem slapped around isn’t worth it.


·         If your skills aren’t a match or the culture isn’t a match, get out before you are kicked out.


·        If the rewards and incentives don’t fit your personal motivation needs, you will fight a losing battle. For example, if straight commission isn’t for you, you will see the handwriting on the wall early. If you aren’t happy punching a clock, or you are an over-achiever in a plodding bureaucracy, get out fast.


·        If you aren’t happy with your salary package and it’s become a big dissatisfier, and you have tried every way within the system to get paid what your worth without success, it’s time to move on.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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