Knowing when the right time to leave a job is hardly ever easy. The only certain way to know is to be a clairvoyant… if you believe in that stuff and I don’t; so I’m going to rely on gut instinct and a dash of courage.
In other news, I passed my MBA. Woo!
Insert appropriate picture of celebrating cartoon character…
Now I need to decide what to do with it, identify opportunities and take the next step in my career.
Deciding to leave
This year I hit the 10 year mark with my current employer. A decade. That makes me feel old. In that time I’ve gone from an entry level practitioner fresh out of university and on to a senior practitioner with experience and a good deal of expertise. For the last 4 years I’ve been managing the team I joined 10 years ago, helping it grow and improve.
This is where I wanted to be when I first started, it’s the position I dreamed of and I think I’m pretty good at.
So now I’m here, where do I go next? Where does one go when they’re at the top of their game? How do I know if it’s the right time to move on? Is it time to leave my job and do something different?
To put it into the words of a Strategic Director I recently interviewed:
“The days where someone joins our organisation as an apprentice mechanic, works their way to mechanic, gets promoted to senior mechanic, one day becomes a mechanic team leader, and aspires to Director of Mechanical Operations have gone. We have to help our managers understand that and move them on to become real professional managers.”
This wasn’t an easy lesson for me to learn. Perhaps it was even tailored to me: I am that person (although not a mechanic)
It’s the realisation that if I want to move up, I’ve got to move out.
Was this the organisation helping me to understand and encourage me to move on?
Shaping the situation, applying the tools and moving on
Pedler’s workbook ‘A Manager’s Guide to Self-Development’ (2013) provides tools and activities to help managers work out their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s very good, I recommend it (you can get it from Amazon here but don’t get the kindle version, it’s not that actual book, just an instructors handbook).
In it Pedler identifies four courses of action or choices for addressing any situation (p.18):
- Change the situation
- Change yourself
- Change your relationship with the situation
- Leave the situation
Although simplistic, it’s probably quite accurate. In essence you can boil down the solution of any conundrum to any one of these 4 options. Try it. Over the last 5 years since starting the MBA I have attempted to deliver each of these in some form:
- I have changed the situation by influencing networks to alter regional strategy, bring greater structure and deliver effective outcomes
- I have changed myself by learning and applying new skills and concepts (like the MBA)
- I have ‘resigned’ myself to working with partners that I often disagree with when realising the situation is unlikely to change and resistance would be wasteful.
It occurs to me that the one option that I have not felt comfortable with the fourth option. So this is it: I finally feel confidence enough to try the fourth option – leave the situation.
The fear – fake it ‘till you make it..
I applied for a new job, and I got it. It’s still in the same organisation but it’s a radically different role that if I do well, should open a range of doors for me.
I now have the fear – can I do the job? Is this a huge mistake?
I’m leaving a job I’m good at to try something very different. It’s right in the firing line of senior management and under the nose of elected politicians. If I get this wrong some very important people are going to know.
But what’s new about that?
As Richard Brandson said:
How am I going to do this?
I’m going to apply myself like I have done over and over again for my career so far, my personal development journey and MBA studies: I will study it and make sure I know the role inside out and I will do that before I even set foot in my new office environment.
The learning really does never end.