Signs it Might be Time to Leave Your Job

January is a time of year where many think about self-improvement and career development as they stop and take stock of their lives and think about the year ahead.  As a long-time career coach, I’ve helped many clients as they consider their options and think about if it is time for them to make a move.  Here are some common signs and reasons people leave their job that I’ve heard from clients over the years:  

Stagnation: If you’ve had no growth in your role in the last year; no growth could be no change in your title but it could also look like no opportunities to learn new things or take on new responsibilities to groom you for future advancement.  Other types of stagnation could be that your company has no path for upward mobility or expansion/development of your role due to the size of the organization or because a manager wants to keep you in your current role for your convenience. 

Smart organizations and managers know that developing employees is important and invest time, effort, and resources to do so.  It is natural to want to get better at your work, learn new things, and to want to advance in some way in your career.  It’s okay to look for a role that allows you to do just that. 

Toxic Culture: Organizations that foster a lack of trust or create an environment that requires you to stay on alert can not only be detrimental to your career, but also to your health.  Undue stress at work rarely stays at work, radiating into our private lives as well.  Caring for yourself includes choosing environments where you have psychological safety both at home and at work. 

If you are in an environment where people fear retribution if they speak up, spend more time covering their back than looking ahead, or reward people despite negative or harmful behaviors – such as a high performing team member that makes coworkers miserable, but their negative interpersonal behaviors are excused because of their performance, it is perfectly normal to want to exit.  

 Toxic Manager: What does a toxic manager look like? It could be that they lead through fear, manipulation, communicate poorly, micromanage, or simply are ill-equipped or prepared to support their direct reports. Leaving a job because of a bad manager is one of the most common reasons.  In the case of an ineffective manager; if you’ve taken steps to proactively improve the situation by asking for the specific things you need from your manager and they continue to not provide you with what is necessary to do your job, it’s perfectly reasonable to escalate the situation to upper management or look for other options in or outside of the organization.  

If you are ever intimidated, berated, or made to feel unsafe, escalate the situation immediately with HR or upper management.  Always protect your safety first and foremost.  Companies should have a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment, so don’t endure poor behavior.  I know many people (myself included) have tolerated poor and inappropriate behavior from colleagues and managers in the workplace because they feared making things worse.  But I can’t emphasize enough how taking care of your own safety and well-being needs to matter to you.  

 Sinking Ship: If the company you work for is on shaky ground (here are some handy signs to look for) either from poor leadership and management of company assets, poor forecasting, or lack of clarity on product differentiation, then it is understandable to start researching and applying to other opportunities, even while still actively trying to improve the status of the organization through giving feedback and making improvements. At one time or another, it’s likely that you’ll be at an organization when everything is going up and up and also be at one that is facing hard times.  It is important to think like a business in this situation and also look after your own financial well-being and career trajectory and get yourself into a better situation when it looks like the best option for you and your priorities. 

Rigidity: The type of inertia that can take hold in organizations both big and small can be a company-killer and career killer. Some businesses seem to change very little on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper, in most organizations with any sort of longevity, you’ll find regular and important changes have happened to the structure, operations, products, processes, locations, and policies when needed to keep up with external and intrinsic factors. Change and flexibility are important to the ongoing chances of survival for an organization.  If they don’t change with the times or with what the marketplace demands, it is unlikely that a business will last. 

Companies that perform best are the ones that look ahead and anticipate future necessary changes and plan for them. If you find yourself in a company that is rigid and their default position is to do things how they’ve always been done, it’s okay to be suspicious of their chances for enduring success. If you work for a company that won’t change with the times your career can be hampered by being left out of using current technologies, work practices, or societal norms – all of which could keep you from getting or keeping future roles.

Friendlessness: This one might surprise you, but not having a friend where you work can be indicative of poor work satisfaction, better than many other markers.  When employers survey employee work satisfaction, they often ask if you have a friend or best friend at work.  It is thought that people don’t often bother deepening connections with those around them if they aren’t happy with their role or the organization.  Also, people are more likely to stay at an organization if they have a close friendship within it.  So, there is a cycle present with this one marker of worker happiness.   You don’t have to be friends with everyone at your company, but if you don’t have any friends at an organization, it is worth taking the time to consider why.

The choice to make a career change is commonly a complex decision. If you’d like to talk to someone about your career challenges, schedule a free introductory coaching session with me, I’m a certified Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC). I’d love to support you through any of your career concerns.