The Grass Is All The Same Green

by: Joanne Meehl

When I probe a client for the reasons they want to leave their current job, I sometimes hear, "I want to leave because things have changed there... they no longer treat people like they did years ago." And: "They are cutting back on our benefits." And: "They're outsourcing so much work to people in other countries now, my team's jobs might be next...." Mid-level managers as well as executives bring up these issues.

Then I ask a few more questions. "Do your friends in the field tell you what's happening in their companies? How similar or different is it there?" The client admits their friends are saying similar things, but that it's not as bad at these other companies.

To which I say, "yet". That's because these changes are ubiquitous. Companies are cutting benefits such as pensions; even municipalities (e.g., Worcester, Mass.) are dropping health care for those employees 65 and over, essentially saying that Medicare will have to take care of them. Competition and mere survival is driving the changes.

The temptation to escape such change is totally understandable. Who wants to worry about losing good benefits or losing a job? So, the thinking goes, let me leave this place and go somewhere where change is further away.

Except eventually it will catch up to you, at the new place or the one after that.

So what to do? Continue to learn new skills, go to seminars, keep your network alive between job hunts, adapt, stay ahead of the wave of change. Change will always be licking at your heels so don't try to flee from it. Instead, stay in control of you, which is truly the only thing you can control. Keep yourself marketable. And if you don't want to, then consider retiring or changing your expenses picture so that you don't need to work.

So when should you leave if it's not for the above reasons? Here are a few things to look for: If you're getting bored on the job, if you feel like you're coasting on the job, if there's little new challenge, if the company stops investing in or developing its people, if the company is losing sale after sale and isn't changing things to fix the situation, if your company or organization is putting out less-than-cutting-edge products or services.

Those are the real signals, the early warning signs that you should leave, if you want to continue your career. And these warnings usually appear well before the ones that tell you things aren't the same.

Yes, I hate to tell you, things have changed. They won't be the way they used to be, either where you are now or on your next job. They never will be again.


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