Recalibrating when your employer’s goals have changed
Staying too long in a role can have extremely negative ramifications for your mental health and marketability. So you may have questions. What is too long and how do you know? What needs to change? Is it necessary to jump ship? All of these are valid questions and require careful consideration.
Reassess your goals before taking any drastic measures. Have an open conversation with your boss about the organization’s current goals. Evaluate the company’s goals and determine if yours are in alignment. Your evaluation will help you decide if there’s anything worth staying for. You’ll also identify necessary changes you can make.
Examine what’s changed.
If you’ve had a tough time at work for a few months or even years, then it’s time to examine what has changed. Here’s a list of questions to start with:
-How are things different from when you first started?
-Has the organization changed its mission, purpose, or approach?
-Are you still playing for the same team or have the players changed?
-Has a new leader taken over the helm and made dramatic changes?
-Has leadership demonstrated they are out for themselves?
-Does leadership have the organization’s greater good in mind when making decisions?
-How is support for employees demonstrated?
-If your team used to work intuitively, what’s different?
-Has the team makeup changed?
Motoring along as if everything will continue as it always has won’t work. New people come with their different ideas and agendas. They may not be privy to what has passed before. New leadership may have new goals. They may not be formally announced and seem different from when you started. When new goals are unclear, it’s hard for people to work together. Feeling like you’re constantly scrambling to try to make others happy isn’t pleasant. Assuming you deserve a promotion and getting passed by can also be frustrating. All of these concerns can become overwhelming. But continuing in the same direction without a discussion won’t help you. And jumping ship may not be the only way to improve your situation.
Jumping ship may not be the only way to improve your situation.
If recent changes have disturbed you and others around you, start by identifying everything that’s different. Has someone new disrupted or ignored established processes? If they intend to make a big splash, their bravado could play itself out over time. On the other hand, they may not realize they’re going against the grain. Don’t make assumptions. Talk to them. Have a conversation and ask questions. Listen for common ground. If it turns out they aren’t the problem, is someone or something higher up the root of it?
Is new leadership driving your team to do more with less? Is their focus on reducing staffing resources, or is it other costs? Tightening belts often creates fear or demotivation. Finding out which areas are under scrutiny may lessen the fear. A good place to start is to ask for specific expectations and clear directives from leadership. When your team has the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the changes, some concerns can be quickly resolved. If everyone receives the same message, then you will all be better able to rally together toward a common goal. At the very least, you’ll recognize why things seem very wrong.
Evaluate what needs to improve.
If you’re clear about the organization’s goals and your team’s goals, and they appear to be achievable, then plan out how to accomplish them. Set specific expectations for all desired outcomes. This will help ensure you’re accomplishing what’s necessary. Developing objectives and creating visible benchmarks for tackling your projects or your team’s collective workload can immediately improve project management. Be realistic about what needs to improve.
Clearly defined, specific expectations can also help support the development of an agreed-upon process for accomplishing each goal. A plan with built-in accountability and timelines will help improve time management and productivity. It can also help to improve communication between coworkers or other groups. Specific goals, with a carefully thought-out action plan, will allow you and others to prioritize, adjust, and adapt to changing circumstances. Ultimately, improving your project and time management skills and being accountable will help you move forward with your personal goals.
It could turn out that everyone believes the team’s goals are unachievable. It may look like there is no executive support for accomplishing them. At the very least, you can support each other throughout an ensuing wave of chaos. And to be clear, supporting each other during tough times doesn’t mean to commiserate together. It means helping each other to cope in the best way possible. Identifying each other’s strengths and pulling together will help everyone move forward.
End your complacency and take action.
If you have tried everything, but continue to face moving targets and feel exhausted, bored, or unsure, then it’s time to move on. Stop ignoring the signs. You’ve probably overstayed your stint with this employer. End your complacency and take action. Even if you haven’t nailed down all the issues causing your dissatisfaction, your newly defined goals will benefit you in the end. Working through this process will make you aware of what needs to change. You’ll also confirm what you want to gain by moving on to a more deserving employer. There’s much you will uncover that’s in your control. To a greater degree than you think, you really can drive your bus. Grab the wheel!