The relationship you have with your job is in many ways like your other interpersonal relationships. There’s a balance of power, there are goals and expectations, and sometimes the parties involved don’t communicate that well. When your goals are aligned with your company’s goals, life is good. But when there’s a mismatch, or a timing problem or, worst of all, an absence of information, things can get sticky. And there are few things worse than not knowing where you stand, whether at work or elsewhere.
Are you the person who gets perpetually passed over, hierarchically ignored, developmentally marginalized – and yet remains optimistic about their prospects? Has your career plateaued, but still you have hope for future promotion and professional glory? Are you languishing in a job that you do adequately well but is not inspiring, and yet you can’t seem to navigate out of it into something more challenging or fulfilling?
If you think there’s an issue, if you think you’re getting overlooked or ignored – you probably are. And the WORST thing you can do is ask about it. The fact is, if you’re top talent, you’ll know. So if you don’t, you’re not. It’s just like the book (“He’s Just Not that Into You,” by Greg Behrendt) – if he’s into you, he’s coming upstairs after the date, morning meeting or no morning meeting. At work, if they’re into you they’re treating you right and providing you with opportunities, no matter what the state of the economy or the business.
The fact is, particularly in the pressured and constantly changing business environment these days, company talent requirements and performance expectations change. If you’re not adapting, if you’re not constantly on the leading edge of what you do and bringing new value to your company, you are vulnerable. Being the longstanding subject matter expert, or that trusty “we can always count on …” sort of manager only has value if nothing about the business evolves. And we all know that’s not happening.
Here’s the thing. In all my years coaching in organizations, I’ve yet to encounter the company where productive, constructive, truthful feedback is given and received well and consistently. Which means that if you’ve reached, or nearly reached, the extent of your value, they might not tell you directly. So unless you can read the signs, you could languish beyond your “best before” date – or worse, get surprised at the next downsizing (er, rather, “restructuring”).
So at what point have you stayed too long? How do you know that it’s (finally) time to move on to greener pastures? Here are a few signs that I’ve observed as I’ve watched organizations manage their talent over the years:
Signs that they’re just not that into you:
- You got accidentally left off the invite list for the meeting about the new project.
- Your boss cancelled your one on one – again.
- Rather than interview you for the next level opening, they tell you they need to hire externally to get “the right experience.”
- You ask for feedback and get a long winded diatribe on the changing needs of the business.
- You propose a new initiative and get told “we’ll think about it.”
- Your boss – and anyone else at that level or above – stops making eye contact with you.
- You are described as “dependable,” “trustworthy” or “solid” in your performance review.
- Your request for a salary review gets perpetually lost in HR process and red tape.
- You are told you’ll get to participate in the “next” leader development program.
These are just a few of the signs I’ve noticed. And the fact is, if you take matters into your own hands and find yourself another job, you’ll find out in a hurry whether your company still wants you. Just don’t capitulate too fast – remember, if they’re into you, they’ll show it.
Have you stayed too long? Or left too soon? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.
Resource Suggestion: How successful do you believe you CAN be? Do you have a “fixed” mindset, or a “growth” mindset? Check out “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck.
*Thanks to Samantha Taylor for the title inspiration!