Far too many women leave their jobs because they are frustrated with corporate culture, discouraged over pay gaps, feel a shortage of meaningful work or are disheartened by a slower rate of advancement.
Many women (rightly so) feel like they can secure a better title, more responsibility, and more money if they leave their company. It’s important to ask yourself, however, what would you be leaving behind if you decide to jump ship? After all, the more time you spend at an organization, the more valuable your perspective, the more you know how the business operates and the more power you have to identify where and how to make change happen.
I wrote "Dig Your Heels In” because I have had conversations with hundreds of women struggling with the decision “Should I stay?” or “Should I go?”.
It’s important to remember that getting a new job can take a long time. The average corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. And out of that huge pool, just four to six candidates are interviewed to get to one job offer.
And the job may sound good on paper, but your actual duties wind up being different than what you expected. In fact, six out of 10 people report that the realities of their new job differ from the expectations set during the interview process.
But, let me be clear. I also know that there are times where enough is enough. The goal is not to convince women in toxic work situations to “grin and bear it.” If you are facing discrimination or harassment that is eating away at your soul, -- or if the job is taking an irreparable toll on your self-esteem, self-worth, happiness, and values, then it is not worth risking a better future elsewhere by hanging around.
But if you’re struggling with the decision, here are five questions to ask yourself before you pull the plug on your current job.
1. Can you diagnose your company culture?
How much time have you spent evaluating your day-to-day experiences in context to the experiences in different parts of the organization? Culture is made up of the visible and invisible patterns that people follow to communicate, think and act, which typically reflect leadership’s preferred behaviors, values, and actions.
In many global companies, you may experience a different culture as you move around and interact with different leaders and teams. Get a clear perspective on your company’s current and future commitment to empower women in an equitable, inclusive environment by studying how, when, where and why decisions are made. Look for trends and reflect on how or if you have used this knowledge to your advantage.
2. How strong are your relationships across your company?
With your boss? Your boss’s boss? Direct Reports? Peers? Mentors? Relationships are everything. They are crucial in building the endurance to stay and lead change and even more critical if you choose to embark elsewhere.
Do you have an ally in HR or someone who is familiar with talent management who is aware of your career performance, skills and goals? Do you have at least two people you trust and can confide in at work? Have you shared challenging situations or moments of self-doubt or frustration with those colleagues you trust? Do you know why they choose to stay?
3. How consistent or inconsistent has growth and recognition been in your career?
Do you see a clear link to your career acceleration and engagement? How consistent were your reviews and how have you tracked personal progress? Have you invested your own money in training or developmental experiences (online courses, in person trainings, master mind groups, skill assessments, conferences)? Does the pattern of your career line up with your impression of how your career trajectory would unfold when you first joined the organization?
How often do you pursue feedback on your skills, impact and potential? The career ownership mindset is the surest way to increase your satisfaction and manage your expectations around development and advancement. Successful people often recount the zig zags of their journey because no one is given a linear playbook for career satisfaction. Use your responses to plot new pathways for proactively driving your career.
4. Do you feel a tangible connection between your work contributions and their impact to a greater purpose?
On a daily basis, how do you feel? (If you were to give a 1–5 rating for each of the last five days of work, what would be your average score?) What do you think a reasonable score should be for you to feel engaged and valued? The reality is that there will always be challenging days; it’s the degree and frequency of these challenges that we must consider then pinpoint the factors.
Do you see business opportunities for your company that leaders are currently not pursuing? How have you stepped up to champion those ideas? Have you invested time cultivating relationships and access to decision-makers? Are there others whom you believe would see your vision as a priority?
If you can illustrate a link between your passion and your company’s products or services, you could seek out others who could also see this vision as a priority opportunity.
5. Are you running away from something or running toward something?
This is tough because you need to be really honest about your deepest motivators. And possibly reflect on your insecurities too. Is there a professional pursuit, experience or accomplishment that has been a strong driver and motivator for you?
Are you attracted to a specific type of success? Are you absolutely certain that you cannot achieve this at the company you work for today?
You have to think about what experiences, accomplishments and exposure you really desire in your career. It is possible to have these things within your company if you get strategic about relationships and project your value?
Obviously, the decision to stay or go is a very personal one, and there is no one “right” way to make it. These questions are a guide to ignite more overlooked data points before you make a decision in haste.
Remember this: You deserve to be blazing the trail, creating the company that you and all the women around you want to work for. A place that honors the right people and enforces the just practices that will ensure its success and yours over the long term
Joan Kuhl is a champion for girls leadership and advancing women in the workforce. She is the author of Dig Your Heels In, Misunderstood Millennial Talent and has led global research on gender and generational dynamics in the workplace for corporations and business schools. Joan is a #SheBelieves Champion for the U.S. Soccer Organization developing a national leadership curriculum and currently serves on the board of Girls Inc of NYC.