“Unhappy? You can change your job …
or change your job.”
You’ve probably heard this before, perhaps in response to someone (maybe even you?) struggling with a difficult workplace. It makes me sad to see people panic and jump to the latter, i.e. leaving a job they once loved without really considering how to bring change where they are. Granted, changing a workplace from the inside is tough – perhaps leaving looks easier. But the fact is that unreflective change is likely to lead to similar outcomes!
Leaving a job can be exhilarating or heart-wrenching, and is often both. Is the stress worth it?
Here are some tools to help you consider the options. Read on for 9 strategies to better inform your next crossroads decision.
When you leave a job, you may leave behind boredom and resistance … but also habits, accomplishments, relationships, and sometimes half-fulfilled dreams. When the decision feels good, the excitement drives you to new growth – for adrenaline junkies, changing jobs is a great high. It’s also worth noting that the stresses created by big change can be hard on family and finances. Changing jobs is a mixed bag. And, despite appearances, it may not be your only choice.
Do you dare to seriously consider the alternative: to change the job you already have? If so, here are some resources I often recommend.
(A note for contractors who naturally move from one job to the next: if you hear yourself complaining about crappy outcomes or client cultures, again and again… these could help you create different experiences, next time!)
- GET BACK IN TOUCH WITH YOUR HEART:
grab a journal and do the 4 exercises in my self-coaching book You Can Design a Bigger Game (in english and german), to get back in touch with your values and dreams – and start making more satisfying choices at work and at home.
- IDENTIFY WHAT “GREAT WORK” LOOKS LIKE FOR YOU
with the 13 exercises in Michael Bungay-Stanier’s book Do More Great Work. Michael’s advice to “say No to good work to make room for Great Work” was transformative for me in 2008.
- UNDERSTAND THE “NEW WORK” PARADIGM SHIFT THAT’S CREATING STRUGGLE IN THE WORKPLACE
with Roger Schwarz’s book “Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams,” and his “Mutual Learning” leadership approach. Learn to recognise the traps of the “Unilateral Control” mindset, which is deeply embedded in so many of us, and into which we tend to fall back under stress.
And, if you enjoy video, this talk by Linda Rising, on The Power of an Agile Mindset, is entertaining and offers information and reminders that will help you look at your workplace culture with fresh eyes.
- EXPLICITLY RE-DESIGN YOUR WORKING RELATIONSHIPS
using Michael Spayd’s introduction to “designed alliances” and Peter Block’s contracting advice from the book Flawless Consulting. Here’s my own contracting conversation worksheet based on Block’s contracting template: in A4 or Letter format.
- FOSTER A LEARNING CULTURE
by introducing regular Retrospectives, a team reflection practice that encourages a team to experiment and improve in response to what they discover as they work. But do it frequently, and regularly!
If you’re new to retrospectives, start out with the structure in the Agile Retrospectives book, it really will help. Once you’re underway, try the exercises outlined in Getting Value from Agile Retrospectives by Luis Goncalves & Ben Linders (paper edition and e-book in 9 languages!). And if you’re an old hand and fear you’re in a rut … let Corinna Baldauf’s online Retromat (which inspired my Chartermat :-) jolt you out of your habits!
- SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
by designing better goals, team agreements and team relationships. Too often we try to fix big systemic problems inside team retrospectives, where important systemic players are absent. At this point, teams can see the issues but feel their hands are tied.
My CharterMat canvas gives you a glimpse into the team chartering approach outlined in Diana Larsen and Ainsley Nies’ book, Liftoff. Ideally, use Agile Chartering before starting a new endeavor. But if a team (even a leadership team!) is stalled, and the goal is valuable, it may be worthwhile to stop working, invite the project sponsor and other key stakeholders, and charter for a couple of days, to improve morale, focus and chance of success!
- GET UNSTUCK
by learning and applying “influence patterns” with our FearlessJourney game, originally for teams and now also with solitaire for solo change agents and leaders who feel isolated. (In 6 languages!) The game uses the patterns from the book More Fearless Change by Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising.
- HACK YOUR CULTURE
read about culture hacking, and join a local or online group to gain the support of like-minds. My current favourite culture hack is Open Space, which can create unconferences in big or small settings, and is frequently used inside businesses.
- GET A COACH WHO “GETS” YOU
as an unregulated industry, and a current business trend, there seem to be “coaching” everywhere. To find a serious coach with formal training and professional ethics, visit the sites of accrediting bodies in your part of the world. Two that I trust are the International Coach Federation (of which I am a member) and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, both of which offer “find a coach” services on their websites. Keep in mind that the right coach for you might be in your town, or on the phone in another country! Many coaches offer sample coaching or “chemistry sessions” to help you decide if they’re a good fit for your style and needs.
If you’re curious about phone coaching, I’d love to do a Personal Vision Session with you – it’s always encouraging, often inspiring, and there’s never pressure to become a client. Use the “free sample” menu item here at abiggergame.today to book it easily online.
I hope one of these resources sparks something new in you, to make your work more meaningful and joyful, whether you decide to go or to stay :-)
What’s most important is:
if you’re suffering, then, one way or another, CHANGE YOUR JOB!
If this post scratches where you itch, you might like the series of posts, interviews, meetups and podcasts for change leaders that I am planning for the coming months. Please sign up for my newsletter to stay informed!