To Quit or not to Quit

“Churn leads to butter but also froth” — by yours truly

Last week, I had a meeting with a friend regarding a career predicament of his. Leaving aside specific details, the predicament boiled down to — should I quit my current job or not? This is a tough question to answer. The right answer always is “it depends” and quite likely, if one is thinking of such a question already, the first reaction that comes to mind may not be the right one. But then again, it depends. Here I tried to gather what I have seen in my experience and provide a view. I will be grateful if you can add your perspective to it — particularly if you do not agree with what I say or if you think I missed something obvious.

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” — Bill Clinton

So, why would the question of quitting the job/role arise?

Immediate

  • Things seem to be imploding around you. Your current organization/group/team is seeming like a sinking ship and key people have already started to jump ship
  • You have a new boss who you simply are not able to stand or your tenured boss suddenly turned hostile
  • Too much challenge — it feels like you are on the brink of burnout

Non-immediate

  • Listless days; you find yourself constantly looking forward to tea time or lunch time; you are looking forward to being done with work for the day; you are browsing through news multiple times in a day
  • Being in comfort zone; no challenge; you are engaged while at work but on doing things that do not challenge you
  • Golden carriage: you are being pushed towards obsolescence or “market unworthiness”; Nature of your work is valued by your employer but not by the market; but you are paid well/handsomely by your employer
  • You often feel that in your organization, mediocrity is celebrated and/or excellence is sought only in words and not seen much (or at all) in action
  • You see that the organization is constantly reacting — you rarely see considered response to situations
  • You see your employer mostly engaged in a (near) constant short term mindset
  • You see your organization taking up new paradigms of doing work but not really adopting it e.g., waterfall project management methodology in the garb of “agile”- business analysts become Product owners by default (not saying this is necessarily wrong but product ownership without empowerment does not amount to much); what used to be considered project “tasks” are now dressed up as “user stories” etc
  • Institutional knowledge is prized over technical or functional expertise and also over managerial and leadership ability; You see mostly tenured employees in senior positions; capable employees who joined in laterally, tend to leave organization after short-ish stints
  • Few people move with their bosses. This may be a good option up to a point. The risk is that you may be considered as your boss’ junkie — your identity is tied to your boss’ identity — your reputation will derive from not just his/her good qualities but also bad qualities. Also, your boss may have sudden change in heart and quit corporate race or even retire. Will you then be able to chart an independent, respectable career path for yourself
  • Market has run ahead of the compensation philosophy at your organization — in other words, you are undervalued by your organization (this shows up as being “underpaid” or “undercompensated”)
  • Market is getting hot — market salaries are leaping ahead. So you may be tempted to take advantage of such bullish trends — make hay while the Sun shines. This is not a bad thing so long you are making hay and not ice cream
  • Only loyalty to the current organization is holding you back. I think loyalty should be to the “values” and “principles” of the organization and when these change, the organization has also changed. You may be stuck on misplaced loyalty to an organization that does not exist anymore — although it does exist in name

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.” — Stephen Chobsky

When not to quit

  • You badly need the money that your job makes for you and you do not have any alternative provision for that funding
  • When there is too much workload but that is a temporary situation
  • When organization is in a flux but you also see a fundamental change for the better
  • Just because a supporting boss moved on, Important to realize that this does not mean that things will necessarily turn bad for you. You just need to be watchful
  • At times, being the “last wo/man standing” can turn out to be a great inflection point in one’s career
  • Just because others around you are quitting for greener pastures does not mean you should do so too. So long as your organization is providing you opportunities that will help you achieve your career and/or personal goals and you have reasons to believe that organization will continue to do so, there is really no compelling reason to look for a change
  • When your personal circumstances do not support a change — fragile personal life conditions, health issues of self/family, family ties, social ties
  • It is almost a cardinal sin to quit without another job offer in hand

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” -Jimmy Dean

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Thanks for your time. In this newsletter, I share my learnings that can help you improve your decisions and make meaningful progress on your goals and desires. I share stuff that I have personally experimented with. To this extent, this is not traditional “self-help” advice.

If you wish to reach out or want to know more about me, follow these links:

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Making Better Decisions Newsletter on LinkedIn

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