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The decision to stay in or leave an organization is a serious decision. If the association is longer, it may be painful as well. It is commonly seen that the employees may linger on with this decision for a long time, which may finally turn out to be a blessing or a curse, depending upon the outcome.
Some common issues leading up to the drastic step of leaving are given here. It is not an exhaustive list; just a sample.
Stress – It is a comprehensive word comprising of various situations, instances, attitudes, behaviors and feelings. It is an everyday word, but it does not say what exactly is the problem.
When you ask the concerned person to define and describe stress, he or she may not be able to tell clearly. All the same, stress is felt, talked, discussed, and finally becomes a reason for leaving.
Environment – There may be a mix of undue pressure of business, customers, bosses, peers or family. It could be undesirable behavior of colleagues, seniors or even juniors. It could be politics, which is almost always there in all organizations, despite claims to contrary. There are silos and there are favorites and others. Seniors use juniors as pawns in their fight for fiefdoms against other seniors. The poor juniors cannot refuse, even when they risk losing life. Such an environment becomes a cause for leaving.
Future – It may be realization that the person does not have good future prospects, and there is a sense of wastage of many years; a mix of anger and loss and depression. It may become an obsession to find something better quickly.
Family – A loved one falls sick and needs constant care. The son/daughter is torn between work and caregiving, and finally decides to leave the job and focus on caregiving.
Following a Former Senior – A very common cause in recent times. The Director/Manager leaves and joins another organization. He is interested in making a team of his own, and he invites his former colleagues to join him. It may or may not be accompanied by incentives of salary raise. Better perks or higher designation.
Desire to get a better title – a person works in a larger organization for several years and does not get promoted due to lack of opportunities or lack of capability. The sense of deprivation becomes stronger by the day and culminates in joining a much smaller, poorer company offering a better title.
In all of the above situations, the common thread is DISSATISFACTION; everything else is extraneous. Dissatisfaction is a feeling which looks more and more real and justified as it grows. The person keeps circling in this contaminated pool and finally drowns.
Dissatisfaction is an emotion. It disrupts the ability to think logically and acts reasonably. Longer standing dissatisfaction grows into FRUSTRATION, which is even more disabling.
How can we bring in some logic here? Some method to madness, as they say? Something to fall back on?
I suggest considering two parameters.
- Space to Perform
- Freedom to Perform
Space to Perform may be described as the opportunity to perform which may be visible or less apparent. Any person working on any position has a certain job description to follow. JD only requires following and fulfilling assigned responsibilities; it does not encourage to do them better, or to do a little extra. Employee Engagement is a buzzword already. However, engagement is not dependent on the organization only and entirely. The concerned person has to contribute her or his bit. An extremely important part of engagement is DEVELOPMENT. Among the twelve questions given in Gallup engagement survey, four are related to development. There are several cases however, where the employee is not interested in development at all.
Space to Perform is mostly there, if not always. There is a need to identify that space and utilize it to differentiate us from the rest and make ourselves eligible for better rewards. Within the JD, around the JD and slightly outside the JD but in similar framework, Space to Perform should be searched for.
Freedom to Perform is the ease to avail Space to Perform. No one expects to have total freedom at workplace. In fact, one person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom starts. In some organizations, there is encouragement to innovate and experiment; in others, it is frowned upon. In yet another organization, it may be strictly forbidden. Government departments are considered icons of status quo, but many private organizations may be even worse. Generally, an organization that does not have growth mindset would either be indifferent or may actively discourage going out of line.
Why these two parameters are important?
Performance is actually the lifeline. Anyone who is performing decently and consistently shall grow in status and titles and compensation and perks. It is common knowledge that organizations tolerate idiosyncrasies of high performers. The seniors pamper them, the peers envy them, and juniors look up to them. The focus therefore must remain on PERFORMANCE.
Performance must be the reason for staying or leaving. And it should be based on the two parameters mentioned above.
If Space to Perform is available, you will be able to perform, no matter what. As long as you perform, you will not just survive, you would thrive sooner or later. Just stay put.
If Freedom to Perform is there, it will help you to develop yourself constantly. A developing/ developed person shall always stand out and will be picked up.
Like Virtue is its own Reward, Performance is also its own Reward. It is never wasted.
As long as Space to Perform and Freedom to Perform are available, it is better to stay, disregarding all the factors mentioned in the beginning. Those are all going to go away or taken care of.
If the Space to Perform and Freedom to Perform are not available, and it is proven beyond doubt that it is what it is, then it is better to leave as quickly as possible. The decision must be taken even if all other things are fine, the job is comfortable, money is reasonable, and people are amiable. It should be taken as Run for Your Life kind of thing.