Should I Stay or Should I Go? How to know when it’s time to quit your job.

Sunday-Night Blues (noun) - an acute condition, mostly affecting nine-to-five workers and students. This condition is characterized by anxiety about the week ahead and a sense of helplessness and depression. (Wikipedia)

We’ve all had the Sunday-Night Blues from time to time. But how much is too much? For most engineers, there will occasionally come a time when you’re just not happy in your current job, and you have to ask yourself whether it’s time to make a change.

In some cases, the best move may be to leave the company entirely. However it’s also quite common that you can work with your management to make changes to your current situation that may adequately address your concerns. So, what are some of the key considerations that you should keep in mind during this stressful time?

Why Are You Thinking of Leaving Your Job?

There are a variety of reasons why you might be unhappy in your current position. It’s important to examine your reasons carefully, and to be honest with yourself about what it is that isn’t working. Some of these reasons may include:

  • Job Function: Your role isn’t a proper fit for your skills and interests, or you have responsibilities that don’t align with your core duties
  • Compensation: Inadequate salary and benefits, or increasing responsibilities without any corresponding increase in compensation
  • People: You have difficulty working and getting along with an individual, your team, or other people and groups in the organization
  • Growth: You want to tackle new problems, learn new skills, or take on broader responsibilities
  • Cultural Fit: The group or company culture isn’t a good fit for you

Most of these issues can, in many instances, be addressed within your current organization. Cultural Fit, however, stands out in that it can be the most difficult concern to fix without seeking employment elsewhere.

In an earlier post, Choosing the Right Company Culture For Your Personality, we looked at some of the variables involved in organizational cultures, including Size & Structure, Work-Life Balance, Formality, Communication Style, Teamwork Style, Stability vs. Risk, and Success. If any of these is your core issue, then you may find it necessary to look into another department or another company for your next opportunity.

What Will Make You Happier Elsewhere?

Whether you have a job at a new company in mind, or you’re thinking about looking, you should have a clear idea of what will make you happier, based on your examination of why you’re not happy in your current role. Otherwise, you may just end up in the same situation all over again.

In particular if you find that you don’t have a good cultural fit with your current organization, take some time to evaluate what kind of culture is ideal for your work personality. Look back at those work culture variables and decide which ones are critical to your happiness and success in a job, and make sure to consider them when evaluating a potential employer.

Resolving Workplace Issues

Many issues can be addressed through open communication with your supervisor. If you’re concerned about your job function, you may be able to negotiate some adjustments to your responsibilities. You might take on a new task that interests you, or offload other tasks to someone whose expertise is better aligned. If compensation is a problem, you can show your boss data on comparable roles at other firms, or explain how added duties or expanded skill sets should qualify you for a raise.

People issues can be addressed individually, or more broadly through management or HR, as the situation warrants. And for growth concerns, your manager can help you understand how you might best fulfill your career goals within your organization. This may involve a move to another team or department that presents a different working environment or new opportunities.

Jumping Ship

There are generally two scenarios, then, in which a graceful exit may in order: (1) you’ve tried and failed to get adequate responses to your concerns, or (2) the company or department culture is simply not a good fit for your work style and personality. In these scenarios, appreciation and recognition won’t come naturally. In most cases it is better to find a situation where you can play to your strengths than continue fighting an uphill battle.

Take the time to find an employer whose culture is better aligned with your own values, and you’re sure shake those Sunday-night blues.

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