Jane Lowder Jane Lowder is the founder of Max Coaching, an agency that specialises in providing coaching services to individuals and organisations. Jane is passionate about assisting individuals to clear existing career confusion and maximise their career satisfaction. To find out more view Jane’s full bio or visit the Max Coaching website. Follow Max Coaching on: twitter and facebook.

Before You Walk Away

By Jane Lowder, Max Coaching

When things are tense at work, it can feel just like being in a relationship that has gone pear-shaped. What do you do? Do you walk - or run - away? Sometimes this is the right thing to do, as outlined in Alicia’s article on Workplace Psychopaths. Sometimes there are other options to consider. Here are some worthy of consideration:
1. Ask yourself “Am I the Problem?”
Before you point the finger of blame elsewhere, ask yourself is there anything that you personally need to change?

  • Are your expectations of yourself and your colleagues realistic?
  • Are you putting effort into making a positive contribution to teamwork and morale?
  • Are you showing initiative, and managing yourself and your work relationships in an emotionally intelligent way?

If not, the tensions you are noticing might be reactions of your colleagues to your behaviour. It may be that you need to take the first step to diffuse the situation and get the relationship back on track.

2. Straight talk about your future together
Do you and your employer both want the same thing for the future?

Just like in a relationship, it’s not helpful to make assumptions about what the other person is thinking because there’s a good chance you’ll be incorrect. Book a time to meet with your manager to have an honest and open discussion about your future with the company.

Before your meeting make sure you are clear about your own plans and hopes for your career. Make a list of what you want to learn and achieve in your current role and outline where you want it to take you. You may find it helpful to talk about this with a career coach.

In the meeting ask your manager about their plans for your career. This could quickly resolve any tensions that may have arisen due to a simple misunderstanding or difference of perspective. On the other hand it may confirm that you both have very different plans for your future, and in that case you have some decisions to make.

3. Renegotiate your role
Sometimes the roles we play in relationships need to be renegotiated to keep the relationship fresh and to prevent being taken for granted. The same can be true at work. If your role is feeling a little stale or undervalued, it’s time to change things up. Volunteer to work on projects that spark your interest, look for secondments or seek out advancement opportunities within your team or organisation.

If the content of your role does not match with your preferences or assist to achieve your career goals then you need to have a frank discussion with your manager about how you would like your role to be different. Relationships are a two-way street, so make sure there is a win in this renegotiation for your employer also.

It’s important to set a timeframe for your negotiated changes to occur. Some managers will promise anything to entice a good employee to stay, and too often there is no follow up. Setting a timeframe for change ensures you don’t fall for empty or forgotten promises.

4. Walk away!
In some instances the only wise option is to walk away.

When your job is doing you more harm than good, it’s behaving like a ‘bad boyfriend/girlfriend’. It can drain your energy and motivation and erode your confidence. If this is the case, you need to look after your own wellbeing, and move on.

If there is no future for you in the organisation, or if your differences are irreconcilable, then don’t be afraid to walk away. If this is the action you need to take, follow these 3 Rs:
Resignation – keep it professional. Avoid the temptation to give a verbal resignation in the heat of the moment. Take the time to type a calm and professional letter and present it in hard copy to your manager at an appropriate moment.
Reputation – as much as you may wish to vent your grievances to colleagues before you leave, avoid these conversations as they can often backfire. Be intentional about protecting your reputation especially before you leave, in such a fluid labour market you never know who you’ll be working shoulder to shoulder with in the future.
Referees – work as hard in your final days as you did in your first to ensure the last impression you leave with your manager is the first they’ll report when called on as your referee.

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