4 Reasons you owe it to your colleagues to resign

You don’t like your job any more, but you have to stay for the sake of your team.

You feel like you’d be leaving a pretty big hole if you handed in your resignation tomorrow. You’re a good person, and you don’t want to drop your team-mates in it by leaving them a person down for your latest project.

So you stick it out.

You stick it out in the name of doing the right thing by your team and your employer.

You stick it out and promise to do the right thing by you when the timing is better.

If you’re unhappy in your job but aren’t sure what’s next, then I’m not telling you to walk in and ask for your P45 tomorrow. I wrote a whole other post about alternatives to that.

But, if you’ve already made your mind up that your job isn’t right, and you’re just finding the right time to make a move, then you need to make that move now.

Staying for the sake of others is wrong. Plain wrong.

Here are four reasons why:

1 – They’ll miss you a lot less than you think

Like it or not, this is a fact. Teams and organisations recover from the loss of pivotal individuals every day. Sometimes it’s harder than others, but every time it’s easier for them that you imagine.

Life will go on and before you know it, people will wonder what you ever did. This happens whenever you leave, so choosing time based on others is pointless.

2 – They deserve someone who loves the job

If you’re working grudgingly every day, people can tell. No matter how good you are, if you loved the job, you’d be better. You’d bring more of yourself to the job, you’d be more effective.

The people paying your salary and the colleagues you work alongside deserve someone who loves this job.

And that person does exist. Even if you think this job is a weight around your neck there is someone out there who would love to do it. So let them!

3 – Some will secretly be jealous

And others not so secretly. If you have a good relationship with your team, they’ll want the best for you. If they love the job, they’ll know you don’t and will be glad for the opportunity to find a replacement who loves it too.

If they hate it too, they’ll admire your ability to make the break.

4 – It’s time for a decision based on your criteria

It’s possible you got into this job because someone else thought it was a good idea. Not making the break because you think that others will think it’s better for you to stay just perpetuates that problem.

If you want to be happy, you’ve got to do what makes you happy, not what you think might please others.

If you’re trying to please your colleagues (or anyone else for that matter) you’re guessing what they really want.

And you’re probably wrong.

So make the decision that’s best for you, and it will also be the best for your colleagues.

 

 

How to deal with fear when it’s holding you back

You’d love to do something else but when it comes down to it…

You’re too scared.

You bottle out.

You start thinking of all the reasons why it’s not a good idea.

If this sounds like you, settle in then while we discuss another way.

First things first – fear is normal here. If you pretend that you’re not scared at least a little, then you’re either lying, or not planning to do very much.

Fear is always present when we’re going to do something important. We can’t make it go away, but we can choose how we deal with it.

One way to deal with it is simply to reduce the stakes until they’re not so scary.

When it comes to leaving a job and starting out on our own, the success story we hear most often goes something like:

I quit my well paid job with no idea what I was going to do, and I started this huge successful business.

But, because we’re smart, we know that there are sure to be failure stories too. So our brain fills in what we think are the untold stories:

I quit my well paid job with no idea what I was going to do, and it all went wrong and now I’m broke.

That creates a huge amount of fear – more than we’re willing to handle. So we do nothing.

Which ironically means the opposite of those success stories is actually:

I didn’t quit my well paid job, because the only way I could see of doing it was too scary. So I settled for what I had.

If the only way we can think of making a change involves huge “bridge burning” steps, then only those of us with a major tolerance for risk could ever make a move. The reality is, not many of us are prepared to put that much on the line. And that’s a good thing. We wouldn’t stake everything on black at the roulette table, so why should we have to when changing career?

We can instead structure the situation to change how much risk is involved. As we do that, we can change how the fear impacts us.

To move out of corporate employment, you don’t have to jump without a net – you can make a slow, steady, carefully planned exit that leaves all your options open.

If you were looking for another job in the same field, you’d go to the interview and get accepted before you quit, right? Well you can do exactly the same with a complete change of direction.

Want to start that company? What’s stopping you from building it while you’re still employed?

Want to travel for a year? Reduce your outgoings now and save enough money to last for a year.

No idea what you want to do? Start a deliberate process of finding out while you still have the luxury of regular income to take the pressure off.

Some of us need the extra pressure that a big shot of fear gives us – maybe you do need to leap without a net. Comfort is the biggest killer of ambition after all. But if the thought of stepping into a very uncomfortable place all at once terrifies you, then  the best thing you can do is take a small step first. Make the step small enough that you can handle the fear it generates.

Take lots of small steps and watch your comfort zone expand until whatever you’re contemplating no longer terrifies you, just gives you the little buzz of adrenaline that you need.

You can take the change at your own pace, but please, don’t stay in your comfortable prison because you’re too scared to unlock the door.

What if you asked to change your job

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

You’re sitting at your desk, and your soul is slowly being eaten away.

It feels like this job is the worst place you could be.  You’d do almost anything to get out.

But you can’t.

You can’t because you don’t know what do next, and leaving without a plan is just too scary.

You’re facing a choice between an uncertain future if you leave, or one that’s more certain, but certainly bad if you stay.

I’m convinced there is another way.

Instead of seeing a choice  between our job exactly as it is now, and an uncertain world outside of it, what if we asked a different question?

What if we asked:

What would need to change in this job to make me enjoy it again?

Maybe it’s more autonomy, more responsibility, less interference, a bigger team, a smaller team.

The ability to set your own hours. The being able to work remotely. A slightly different role within the same company.

It might not be any of these, but chances are there’s something that would make a difference for you.

Force yourself to answer the question, and write down the answer. You might be surprised. Small changes can transform how you feel about your job.

Then we can ask:

What would it take to make those changes happen?

What if I asked for those changes?

This will be scary. It will feel uncomfortable. It might even feel cheeky.

But it’s nowhere near as scary as deciding that the only thing to do is quit immediately.

It’s even less scary than suffering forever in a job that’s eating away at your soul.

What have you got to lose by asking?

Think about what no would mean. Structuring your request in the right way should mean even a negative answer is unlikely to mean you get fired.

Maybe you’ll get a flat our no – in which case at least you know, and have more reasons to leave.

But in my (and my client’s) experience, no isn’t the usual answer. You may not get everything on your wish list immediately (and you shouldn’t ask for them all at once) but you are highly likely to get at least a counter suggestion:

You – I’d like to be able to work at home every other week.

Your boss – Hmm, I’m not sure we could do that, but what about if you tried working at home every other Friday?

That would be slightly better than now, right?

You could do that for a few weeks, prove it works, then have a further conversation:

About these work at home Fridays – I find I’m at least twice as productive [shows evidence of super productive outputs] Could we consider upping it to Thursday and Friday? I’m pretty sure I could achieve [big very productive outcome] in a month if we agreed that.

A difficult request to turn down, right?

Yes, this takes a little guts, but a moment of being uncomfortable in the short term while you ask, can have a big payoff in the long run.

This will benefit your employer too. If you agree some terms which are more aligned to what you want, what’s it going to do to your loyalty and affinity to that company?

Chances are you’ll be more productive, and more loyal – because it would be harder to find a a job like that elsewhere. It really is in everyone’s interest to agree to these type of changes.

That’s why you don’t want to ask for everything all at once. Go incrementally, make the decisions easy for your boss and then both reap the rewards.

If it feels like all you have is two choices: the rock of an unfulfilling job, and the hard place of jumping into the unknown, try asking yourself what needs to change and then request that change.

Make one uncomfortable ask and be surprised at how much things improve.

A job shouldn’t be a battle between employer and employee

It’s pitched as you vs them

Sticking it to “the man”.

Getting one over on your evil employer.

Leaving the corporate culture behind, never to set foot in an office again.

I don’t think that way.

Seeing employees and employers as opponents is a pretty old fashioned way of looking at things. Granted, it’s still very prevalent, but it’s antiquated.

In the days of factories, shift work and replaceable employees, it made sense. Squeezing a little more out of an employee by any means was good for business. So that’s exactly what happened.

But in the modern economy that we work in, it’s not like that. An employer might be able to squeeze some more out of you, but when you start to resent them, and see yourself of on opposite sides of a game (or worse a battle) then you both lose.

You both loose because happy employees deliver more value than unhappy ones. Happy you should mean happy employer. It’s in a company’s economic interest to make their employees happy. Honestly.

Big companies do recognise this, at least superficially. Most “take employee satisfaction seriously”. No doubt they offer lots of benefits, measure employee satisfaction and net promoter scores an such. But honestly – it doesn’t work.

What really makes a difference is pretty simple:

  • Giving employees purpose and agency in their work.
  • Matching their skills to things that need doing.
  • Having them work on things that interest and excite them.

So, if this is true, why are employee satisfaction surveys more prevalent than happy employees? Why is it broken?

Here are three reasons:

Firstly, it’s accepted at a theoretical level that happy employers deliver more, and this is often the policy at board level. But how many managers actually believe this to be true, I’m not so sure. So the policies support the theory, but the culture drives different behaviours.

Secondly, it’s a long term game. In the long run, a happy, engaged employee will deliver more. But in the short term, someone who’s overloaded and driven hard to do more regardless of how they feel, will usually do better. If the culture of the company judges managers on their short term results (which most do) then it encourages short term maximisation of output – and happiness loses out.

Thirdly, the fundamental problem is that being unhappy at work is endemic. Many of the managers charged with cultivating happy employees are not happy themselves. This drives a belief that work is something to be endured and not enjoyed – and it runs deep. Why should my staff be happy if I’m not? Few would admit to this, but their actions tell a different story.

That’s a pretty bleak picture. So it might not be as simple as showing this post to your boss, sitting down and having a conversation about how your job could change.

But, if you know that underneath your desire to be happy in what you do there’s a better outcome for your boss and your employer you can bring a whole new angle to any debate about your job. You can switch perspective from opponent to partner.

Admitting that you’re not happy and actually doing something about it is good for you and your employer. Whether you choose to rethink what’s happening in your job as it is, or to look for something different, as you become happier, things get better for both of you.

If you can change your job and you’re happier and more productive win for both of you.

If you leave because you can’t work things out, you can find something that works for you, and there’s an opportunity to fill your role with someone who it’s more suited to.

Either way, you both win.

Are you ready to make the first move?

What is your version of success?

We all think we know what success means for us.

We know if we feel successful or not.

But…

When did you last stop to think about what success really means for you?

And perhaps more importantly, when did you last stop and think about whether your definition if success in life, was aligned with your definition of success at work?

For so many people, these are misaligned.

In life, a typical definition of success might go something like:

“Be able to do the things I want to do, spend time with my family and loved ones, see friends regularly, travel, stay healthy”

Often it’s rooted in having time to do things. But compare this to typical work success:

“Finish this project, gain promotion, make X per year, be able to retire in Y years, take my companies revenue to Z, win a specific award…”

They’re often based on status, or money.

When these two definitions of success become misaligned, this can cause significant unhappiness.

I’m not saying the definitions have to be the same. They don’t. But they have to be compatible.

The classic non compatibility is that time spent on work objectives, means there just isn’t enough left to pursue life objectives. Work takes over life, work becomes resented, performance at work suffers and neither success objective is met.

Sad face.

So how do we align our work and life objectives?

My method is pretty simple:

Decide whether work or life is more important to you, and prioritise it.

Then, align the other with your chosen priority.

This is something so many of us fail to do. We don’t realise that we have not defined our own version of success. We’ve continually accepted the definition that’s been given to us, and chased it hard. And the only version of success that someone else is going to give you is your employer’s definition success at work. So guess what we focus on?

From getting good grades at school, to the right university, the right job, the right promotion – if we stop and think, are any of these really definitions of success that we’ve chosen?

I have no intention of perpetuating the problem and telling you what your success should be.

If work, career and making money is most important to you, that’s fine, embrace it. But you might have to accept that some life success criteria could suffer. It’s ok though – if you align what you want out of life with what you want out of your career, you’ll be happy.

For most of you reading this, it’s perhaps more likely you’d prefer to prioritise life. If that is how you feel, then take some time deciding what a successful life is, and then look at how work can support that.

Thinking that way round (life first, work second) can be a powerful shift.

How you see success is the foundation of any work life balance you try to achieve – if you’re trying to balance two things with competing objectives, you’ll have a much harder time than if their success criteria are aligned.

So if you want to create a better work life balance, don’t just focus on the symptoms of not being happy. Instead, consider if the foundations and goals of the two aspect’s you’re trying to balance are aligned.

I challenge you to take some time to think about success in your life and work.

I double challenge you to do something about it if the two aren’t aligned.