Last month, Harvard Business Review profiled the reasons behind “The Great Resignation,” and zeroed in on industries like healthcare and tech, and age groups like those 30-45 who were more likely than their counterparts to leave current positions. The article is just one of hundreds on this topic right now. While the article focused on what companies can do to keep existing employees, it made us at Corporate Path Leadership think about the steps an employee may want to take BEFORE deciding to leave.
After all, if you are stuck in a rut, you should acknowledge that part of that rut is you! Maybe thinking about how you can change your thinking about your current situation can open up options for your current position, and for your current company.
Here are three simple steps you can take to better evaluate your current position, and possibly give it new life.
STEP ONE: Change Your Scenery
One of the difficulties with the pandemic was being cooped up in a home office for 18 months. Many people are simply tired of their own environment. And while there are many companies who are willing to sell you new office furniture and gadgets, our advice is to change your scenery by getting out of your office space, and scheduling time to think through where you are stuck, and options to fix it.
Start simple. Take a 2-3 hour break and get out of your office. Maybe you can take a walk in your neighborhood or find a new coffee shop or public space to do your best thinking. Either way, try to bring a notepad and pen where you go, and capture some key thoughts around the following:
- What is your current situation? (the good, the bad, and the ugly)
- What is keeping you from moving forward?
- What are opportunities for you to change your situation at your company?
- How much are you a part of your current rut? What factors are involved?
- Write up your thoughts in an email to yourself (or in a simple notes document), ensuring that the major themes from your break are organized in a logical manner.
STEP TWO: Change Your Sounding Board
One challenge that we experience with clients is that they tend to always talk with the same small group of people to gain confirmation, ideas and perspective. We aren’t encouraging you to ignore your normal circle of confidants, mentors, and friends. Instead, we want to remind you that these people are likely familiar with your situation, and may have even already spoken with you about options and ideas for change before. Our suggestion is to find new people who are still mentors/friends or confidants — but people that you don’t normally connect with. By changing up your sounding boards, it will give you a greater chance at finding a new perspective on your existing situation.
- Make a list of 3-5 contacts who are not in your usual sphere of communication/influence. It just might be that you haven’t connected with these people in 6-12 months. Or it could be that you know them in one context, but haven’t spoken with them about career advice in the past.
- Contact these people and see if they would be willing to have you schedule 60 minutes with them to talk about your current career situation.
- Important: You need to be upfront about the need. If they aren’t willing to talk or are pressed for time, that’s fine. Find another contact to engage.
- Your goal would be to connect with at least 2 people from your original list.
After you have scheduled the call, take the time to organize your thoughts in a cohesive way so that you have an agenda and story flow for your conversation. In that flow, include key questions that you want them to answer, such as:
- What past situations have you experienced that are similar to my situation? What did you do in those situations, and how did that work out for you?
- If someone in your company were to come to you with these similar challenges, how would you advise them?
- What actions do you think are important for me to consider in my current situation?
STEP THREE: Change the Routine / Locale of the Meeting with Your Employer
It is likely that your current employer knows you well. And that same employer would expect you to talk about your situation in an “expected” fashion. In order to break the cycle of the normal world, we’d ask you to consider setting up a specific meeting that would be out of the norm.
For the meeting purpose itself, focus on getting to the purpose in the title, such as “New Perspectives/Ideas From <Your Name>”
- If your conversations are usually via Zoom, perhaps set up an in-person meeting.
- If meetings are in-person and in the office, choose a different location.
Come prepared. You won’t gain traction with a brain dump of random ideas.
- Start with your notes from the break and insights from your sounding board sessions.
- This will show your seriousness and effort to date.
- Clearly outline changes you think would improve the situation.
Come with some vulnerability. If you start into the conversation without humility, you’ll likely face some indirect backlash of being self-centered.
- One way to handle that possible backlash is to provide some introspection.
- Start with some of the factors that you think you personally have contributed to being stuck, and how you are trying to think differently about those factors in the future.
Come with an open mind — be open to input for other opinions. The trickiest part of this whole exercise is only wanting to state your case and have others react and adapt to it. You should be open to other thoughts by asking questions such as:
- What other factors do you think are in play for my current rut?
- As you are listening to some of my ideas, what are your thoughts on how to shape those ideas differently to make them stronger?
- Do you see other opportunities for me within the organization to take on new responsibilities and/or transition some of my current responsibilities to someone else?
- As I share these ideas, what is your perspective on the situation?
- What actions would you suggest for remedying the situation?
- How can we work together to encourage the best outcome?
Final Words of Advice
We don’t suggest that simply following these three steps will lead to you wanting to keep your job or landing a promotion. However, we do feel strongly that the outcome of these three steps will help you make a better assessment of what your current work situation looks like, and what possible new paths could be on the horizon. It may also give you perspective on your own adaptability to new, possible futures, whether you fix the rut and say with your current company or move on to somewhere else.
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