We all get frustrated in our jobs. We don’t get the support we need. Other team members don’t step up. We work for horrible ‘leaders’ who have no clue about what it means to lead. And we may not get the recognition we expect. Let’s face it; every workplace has its challenges. In my four decade career, I’ve seen it all … not an exaggeration. I would also add I have listened to many, many people who were so frustrated they simply could not stand another day – – – but I convinced them to stay anyway. So, perhaps I can convince you! Here are ten things to consider before you throw in the towel.
1 – What is the real reason you’re frustrated?
So often we get stuck in the treadmill of the job, we haven’t taken the time to truly consider the the question: “Why am I so frustrated?”. So, take a pad of paper (A laptop is risky, because you may inadvertently forward your frustration! – Just sayin’!) Go somewhere where there is enough ‘white noise’ to clear all distractions. Write at the top of the page – “What is really bothering me?” Keep digging until you find the true reason you want to leave. Here’s why: You need to precisely identify the issue so you can address the issue. Clarity is critical. You don’t want to leave without knowing the real reason.
2 – Will the next boss be better?
99% of the time, it IS the boss. The boss could have quirks, an aggressive nature, and an inability to make a decision. Research shows the boss is the #1 reason people leave. I get it. I have had some doozies, ranging from narcissistic nut cases to obsessive-compulsive wackos to those with borderline personality disorder. They exist. So the question to me was: “Can I wait this leader out or will they cause me to lose my mind?” The desire to get out from under the oppression of a maniacal boss is extremely powerful. I understand. But will the next boss be better? Or can you find a way to (secretly) outsmart this person? It can be done. This boss is the ‘devil you know’. The next one may be worse, and short of physical abuse (I’ve experienced it) or threats that smack of violence, you may be able to endure this person.
Blame, however, is not a recipe for success.
3 – Is there something you need to change?
Very often, we are so focused on the behavior of others that we do not see our own failings. Blame, however, is not a recipe for success. Gut-wrenching self examination is not what we want to hear in situations where others seem to be the source of the problem. No matter. There is always something we can change in the midst of trials. Maybe we need to improve our own patience, or listening, or persistence or time management. Before you move, do some serious soul searching. The problem may be you!
4 – What are your gaining in your current role?
Are you getting invaluable experience for the future? Are you working with outstanding teammates? Do you have access to executive presence where you can make a name for yourself? Do you have great perks, salary, benefits? ALL those things must be weighed.
5 – What can you do to stick it out?
Remember one critical thing: no one stays in a role forever. It may take a year or even two years, but things change in organizations. (I once gasped in disbelief as one of the most awful leaders in the organization got up and left!) Find ways to avoid the person, find countermeasures, find a team member who can commiserate (with caution – see #7). There is always a way to wait someone out. And don’t be surprised if other members of your organization know about the horrible performance or behavior of your boss. They may remove the person for their own reasons!
6 – Where can you refocus in your current role?
Can you add something interesting to your job? Can you ask for an additional project to get engaged with other team members (even volunteer activities or interviewing new candidates)? Whatever you can do to find a way to refocus parts of your day to get a break from the frustration will go a long way. You don’t need to tell anyone but yourself. The key is this: refocusing helps us get relief that helps us endure.
7 – Be careful who you complain to.
Its easy to believe that your fellow team members feel the same way. They may – but they may not. Before you unload about your frustration, think carefully. Perhaps it would be better to find someone outside the corporation to unload your frustrations. Whilst people may say they feel the same way you do, they may sit at a bar with your boss one day and, in a moment of self-interest, express your grumbling. Not good for your future. Best keep the complaints to your barber, stylist or bartender.
8 – What will you lose?
Again, take out the pad of paper, and be VERY deliberate about everything you’re going to lose. Be brutally honest. Is the loss of all these things worth it at this time? Or can I endure it. Vacation? Tenure? Other key relationships at your organization? Career path? Think before you leap.
9 – Have you considered how to refocus your frustration?
Sometimes we need to step back, take a breath and maybe even laugh a bit. Maybe its not as bad as we think. Maybe we’ve taken one or two odd episodes and blown them out of proportion or obsessed about them, when, in reality, most of our work day is filled with achievement and good things. I’ve seen people leave jobs because of one or two bad projects. They go over them again and again, when the best thing to do would be to move on. Refocus – reframe – regroup – repurpose – do whatever you need to do to change your state of mind.
10 – Do you really have a plan?
Finally, ask yourself. Do I really have a plan? Do I have another gig lined up with a contract in hand? Do I know where I’m going? Again, take out the pad and write it all down. Details matter along with a realistic view of the future. Are you sure you’re ready to go? Absolutely sure? Really?
I am convinced everyone wants to quit from time-to-time. Some days just don’t seem worth it. But I’ve coached many people to stick it out because of what they would gain in the long run. And they stuck around. And they won.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Jim Bohn is a keynote speaker and the author of the book: “The Nuts and Bolts of Leadership” available on Amazon.com