So you have been in your job for a while and lately you have been wondering if this is the time to move on. But you are not entirely certain that now is the time? Well, almost everyone has been there or may be stuck there as we speak. Nobody realizes that this is “THE” moment when one needs to move on out of the blue. It’s a process which takes time.
One important lesson I learnt in the process was, moving on is not quitting! I am no quitter as I was raised not to be a quitter. When I did not get a promotion I was highly anticipated for (about a couple of years ago), I did not move on immediately (I spent another year at the same employer spending my time on soul searching instead) as I was afraid I will be a quitter! Because I did not understand, moving on and quitting are very different things. If you quit the job without a plan or not taking any steps to establish you in a better job, that is quitting.
They say, “winners never quit, quitters never win”. But moving on is a major part of winning!
Sometimes it’s not just one factor that drives someone to decide to move on, it may be a combination of factors. What matters is to pay careful attention to certain red flags and make the courageous decision to move on!
Here are a few factors that may result in someone choosing to move on from their job:
No sense of career advancement or opportunities
If you are like me, who enjoys and appreciates your job and considers it as something beyond which provides you a pay cheque, then career advancement is important to you. You just do not show up to work for the monthly (or weekly) pay cheque. Your work is your pride and joy (among other things in your life), you are hungry for learning and experiencing new things on the job, you are ready to go an extra mile or two to improve yourself (the list goes on). Career advancement opportunities are something that keeps you in your job as it gives you a boost to be better at your job and it brings you fulfilment.
When you see no career advancement opportunities at your workplace, that’s a sign you will be stagnated at the same position for a long time. This hinders your motivation to work. It’s a definite red flag! At my last job, I enjoyed my day-to-day duties, I was keen to learn new things etc. however, I did not see any career advancement (i.e. where would this take me in two years’ time?). Neither in my line of business nor there is a program to cross train employees in different business lines so they can move into a different area of business. I struggled to see where I shall target to be in few years’ time. Seeing myself in the next level is one important thing which keeps me in any job. So, I decided to move on within just three months into the job. One may argue its too early. Time frame really does not matter when it comes to no career advancement opportunities on the horizon!
You are no longer passionate about what you do
Are you the person who is so passionate about whatever you do? What motivates you to show up to your job is your passion nothing else! It may be the impact that your job makes in others’ lives or in the environment, coaching your team mates, taking the lead in a project, ideas you bring to innovate the product or service your employer offers (list goes on). That’s where your passion lies and it drives you to succeed in your job.
When you no longer feel the excitement of passion, every aspect of your job becomes a routine. There is nothing wrong with the routine however, routine is boring. When your job becomes routine, you lose the passion for it. When you feel that you’re not passionate about it anymore, this is the time for you to draw up an exit strategy.
You have no work-life balance
Let me tell you, this is a killer! Work-life balance means different things to different individuals. For some it’s just sticking to their reportable hours (i.e. 9-5), for some it’s having the flexibility of attending to their personal commitments during the workday and managing daily workload at their discretion etc. However, we all agree about one thing, finding suitable balance between work and daily living is a challenge. OECD research suggests 11% employees in OECD countries work over 50 hours per week!
If you are overloaded at work and there is no way you can finish your workload during your normal work hours, 50-60 hour work weeks are the new standard at your work place, well it’s time for you to think about whether you really want to continue like this. Do not get it mixed up with working extra hours once in a while to meet special project deadlines and over working every single day. Sometimes you may not consider working long hours is a red flag when there is another factor or two available to compensate your long hours. Over 50 hour work weeks never bothered me for several years as I was extremely passionate about what I used to do and there were so many advancement opportunities at my workplace. However, when it became just long hours, I knew it was the right time to move on!
You are almost always stressed
Are you feeling like you can no longer cope with your work load due to many reasons such as; you have little control over the tasks in hand, mountain of unexpected responsibilities and pressures land on you that would not align with your skill set, capabilities and knowledge topped up with having not sufficient support from your manager?
You are most likely suffering from work-related stress. Stress is a ‘state of mind’ thus not permanent (unless it’s chronic stress which is a medical condition). When we are stressed, we are less likely to behave in a rational way as we do when we are calm. Hence, our ability to cope while we are under the influence of stress is very minimal. Many professionals I come across have been there at least once.
Here are a few situations that may suggest that you are most likely stressed all the time:
- You’re working on highly demanding projects with no or less management support;
- relationships at workplace are not at their best;
- you are assigned with conflicting roles;
- you have no (or less) control over the work process.
The danger of being stressed is that if you do not address the matter as soon as possible, it would develop into mental, physical, behavioral and cognitive issues. I have been there couple of times myself so I can assure you that being stressed all the times is a red flag to watch out for. If it’s going to be continued then it’s time for you to draw up your exit strategy.
Lack of support from your manager
Would you agree with me if I say that your manager navigates your career while you drive it? It is true. Your manger is the single most influential factor in your career after you. Basically your manager should be your cheerleader!
Good managers empower their subordinates in many ways:
- They give you living examples to set your career goals;
- they provide a challenging environment to sharpen your talents;
- they encourage you to take responsibilities outside your day-to-day responsibilities to sharpen your leadership skills;
- they push you hard when you take your eyes off the ball;
- they provide honest and constructive feedback regularly;
- they track your progress and never stop believing in you.
Fostering a healthy relationship with your manager is imperative to career success. However, not all managers you come across in your career become your biggest advocate or your cheerleader. In my opinion, being a good manger is a talent. If your manager does not believe in spending time in your development and investing in your career, you need to consider it seriously. Because staying under their wing would not help you to unleash your full potential.
We all come across different types of managers. I have had great managers who have helped immensely to shape me as a professional. On the other hand, I have had some managers who have never even sent any time on helping me in order to just survive on the job and it didn’t take time for me to realize that I needed to move on for my own good. Remember, you drive your career not your manager. If the navigator isn’t helping you to get to your destination, you move on from the navigator rather than abandoning your journey!
In my experience, some of these red flags on their own could pose a major impact on your decision to move on. Combination of more than one requires your undivided attention immediately. Deciding to move on requires courage. As Raymond Lindquist once said:
“Courage is the power to let go of familiar”
Muster your courage, ambitious professionals!
About the author
Chandinie Gamage is an accountant by profession who never worked as a mainstream accountant. At the moment she is working in Risk Management at US Bank by the day and being a volunteer to shape Ireland’s youth with Foróige as well as helping professionals around the world via LinkedIn providing personalized career advice by the night.