July 26, 2017

The Internal Conversation

By Rich Weinman, Practice Lead, Architecture/Mechanical Construction

The psychology of every employee is differently complex. While most feel fortunate to have a respectable job and are grateful for the opportunities they’ve been presented, many also ponder if the grass is greener elsewhere- it’s just human nature.

But although these thoughts may seem like an ungrateful intrusion, asking “what if?” is perfectly natural. Recruiters are experts at seeing and hearing what people don’t say, and they routinely sense this anxiety in potential job candidates. Considering whether or not to embark on a job search can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By asking yourself these four questions (and answering them honestly), you can determine whether or not now is the time to consider a move.

AM I HAPPY IN MY CURRENT ROLE?

This question is deceptively hard to answer. You may have been in your current role for a long time, and you may even like some aspects of it; furthermore, admitting yourself that you want more – or that you’re unsatisfied – can lead to anxiety about what to do next.

An honest answer to this question may require a more thoughtful analysis of professional happiness. Happy employees are not just satisfied; they’re inspired, enthusiastic, focused, and active in the workplace.

The happiest employees have often also managed to achieve the elusive work-life balance; even if you like your job, if your personal life is struggling, you may want to rethink your answer. I personally was in this exact situation a few years ago. I was going through a tough divorce and my personal life was intersecting with my professional life. It was difficult to realistically balance the work-life scenario. At the end of the day, the exercise is not to kid yourself and keep pushing forward.

Deep down, employees in the wrong role are keenly aware of it, and this can manifest in often unnoticed ways (such as spending a lot of time away from their desks). At the same time, even unhappy employees will find ways to justify staying in their current role – which prevents them from admitting to themselves to work in a position that values their skills and fill their needs.

AM I BEING CHALLENGED?

The perfect job will challenge you in unexpected and rewarding ways; it will push you to be the best version of yourself professionally. Without challenges, there could be no growth. Too many employees lose valuable time and earning potential in stagnant jobs that make them complacent. When an employee is unchallenged in their role, they fail to live up to their potential, which can cause the entire team or division to under perform. Humans like challenges. Effective managers embrace the potential of thier employee and test them with projects and goals that encourage excellence. If your current job isn’t challenging you, then you’re missing out on important personal growth and professional development. Seek opportunities that cultivate a progressive and productive mentality.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING I WOULD CHALLENGE ABOUT MY JOB?

This question is an exercise that forces you to be honest with yourself. By focusing on just one thing (sound familiar?) you’ll have to contextualize every unwelcome aspect of your job. The answer to this question may reveal several things you dislike about your job. The goal is to determine whether or not a change is in order. No job is perfect, but identifying all of your problems with your current role and then choosing the worst is a healthy exercise. For example, you may not work well with your boss or coworkers; your responsibilities may be poorly aligned with your skills. It may even be something as small as an outdated or uncomfortable office environment. It’s always worth determining whether or not these problems can be fixed (consider what you can do to fix them) but if they’re seriously affecting your performance, you should think about changing roles, positions or companies.

WHERE DO I SEE MYSELF IN 5 YEARS?

Although the future is inherently unpredictable, it’s still important to think about where you want to be – and to determine how you can get there. Be candid and have meaningful conversations with your manager and loved ones to identify what you’d like to accomplish in the near future and in the years to come.

You owe it to yourself to assess your current situation and to explore all your options. The more options the better. These four questions will act as a great starting point. Don’t be passive or complacent, and don’t avoid thinking about changing careers simply because it’s easier to stay in your current role. Nothing is worth staying in a job that limits your possibilities for growth or prevents you from achieving your goals.

For a deeper dive into personal employment growth, feel free to contact me through LinkedIn or at rweinman@thinkingahead.com . 615-391-2802.