Q. Dear Zenagos, I have been thinking about resigning. I’ve worked at my company for over 7 years. I love my team. I love the work we do together. But, the company is slow in its decision-making and so disorganized. I’m frustrated by something every day. The disorganization negatively affects my team, forcing us to frantically meet deadlines that were communicated to us far too late. Should I leave?
When quitting seems like a reasonable solution, it’s a sign that you are already well past your tolerance level. It’s not normal to be frustrated every day at work, and staying in a stressful situation can damage your health and your relationships. It’s important to take your feelings seriously and begin taking action. Annie Duke (2022, author of the book: Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away) would argue that if you’ve already been thinking about quitting, it’s probably well past time to leave your job. Nevertheless, you should consider a few things before making the leap.
Keep it Professional at Work
First, make sure you aren’t griping about the company to your co-workers. When you become frustrated at work, it is normal to want to share those feelings with others. It is a natural part of the emotional separation process to want to share your grievances and discuss them. You will feel the urge to talk them out with your co-workers, who understand exactly what you are experiencing. However, this kind of sharing can damage your professional future in ways that are hard to predict and may even be hard to see. When you apply for a new job, the hiring manager may have under-the-radar connections to your former boss or your former co-workers. If you have been complaining about the company, word will get around, and a future employer may rule you out if you get a reputation as a complainer. You need to talk to someone about your feelings, but if at all possible, make it someone who doesn’t work at your company and won’t come into contact with your co-workers.
Evaluate Your Situation Carefully
Since you love your team and your work, ask yourself if the situation is as bad as you think it is. Try to imagine leaving. Picture your goodbye party. Imagine shaking hands with the members of your current team. Feel what it would be like to start at a new company. Are you really ready to leave? Try this: Take a coin and tell yourself that if it comes up heads, you will leave your job. Flip it, and then see if you are disappointed with the result. This is a good tactic for getting in touch with how you really feel.
Explore why you are feeling frustrated. Are your expectations of the company reasonable? Most companies feel chaotic and disorganized sometimes. Will another company be better? Determine if there might be solutions. Ask for a meeting with your boss, and discuss suggestions for specific changes. Your boss can’t do much about how you feel, but if you propose specific changes that could make things better, you will see whether there is room for improvement.
Make a List of Pros and Cons
When you are struggling with a go/no-go decision, it helps to write down the pros and cons of leaving. What would improve? What could be worse? Assigning weights to the factors that are most important to you can also help you with your decision.
Avoid “Quiet Quitting”
The phrase “quiet quitting” has been popular in the press lately. It’s the idea that you stay at your job, but you don’t put your heart and soul into it. You just go to work and do the minimum, and you put your real energy into other parts of your life. “Mailing it in” is not a recipe for happiness. Most people spend at least 40 hours a week working. That means that if you are “quiet quitting,” you are spending almost a quarter of your life (and more than a third of the hours that you are awake) doing something that doesn’t add to your energy and happiness. You may not have a lot of hope that you will find a job that you like better, but why not at least try? Research shows that “the people most satisfied with their work are those who find a fundamental match between their employer’s values and their own” (Brooks, 2021). Instead of quiet quitting, start searching for an employer who shares your values.
Develop a “Survive and Thrive” Plan
Don’t leave your current situation until you have a better situation ready to go. We call this your “Survive and Thrive” plan. If you want to try working at another company, don’t quit your current job until you have a written offer in hand. If you want to try starting your own business, make a plan and run some tests that test the waters and verify that your business can work. Take a class on how to start a business, or get a business mentor. Thinking about the future may energize you and open new perspectives. It may even help you see how you could make your current situation better, which is a good outcome, too. The key is to keep your emotions in check and stay where you are while you plan something better.
Maintain Those Bridges
You never know how human connections will work out in the long run. If you have a choice, it is always wise to build positive relationships and maintain them over time. Leaving a job well is a challenge; meeting it can have many rewards. If you ever do want to go back to your company, it is nice to have that option available. Even if you are certain that you will never want to go back, there might be people there who will show up in your life in important ways. It is always wise to keep bridges intact, since you may want to cross them in the future.
Brooks, A.C. (2021, September 2). The secret to happiness at work. The Atlantic. Retrieved on October 3, 2022, from https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/09/dream-job-values-happiness/619951/
Duke A. (2022). Quit: the power of knowing when to walk away. Penguin Random House.