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Shall I stay or shall I go?

by Rob Cross on March 24th, 2010

The Next Big Decision

As someone who manages a Graduate Programme for a large company, my day yesterday consisted of what seemed like the same conversation over and over again. These conversations were with many different Graduates who’ve now been in the company now for a few years. Their initial question to me was simple:

“Shall I stay? Or, Shall I go?”

Whenever I’m asked this question, my answer is always the same;

“It depends…”

For most of the people yesterday, their situation was very similar; over the last few years they’ve gained some great experience, but they were hit by pay and bonus freezes. Now, they see that the their experience marketable and the outside job opportunities are improving – hence their question of whether to stay or go!

How to Decide

For me, the decision on whether to stay or go is a simple. However, in making that decision there are two key factors to consider:

  1. What am I really trying to achieve from my life and career – my purpose?
  2. Against my purpose, what are the pro’s and con’s of moving?

1. What am I really trying to achieve – My Purpose

As always with my blog responses – this idea of purpose and what you’re really trying to achieve must be central to any decision you make. Without considering this before making a decision, means you end up being like Alice in Wonderland; if you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter what path you take! So before making any rash decisions about staying or going, I encourage you to at least in some way consider what you’re really trying to achieve in the longer term. This is done by asking a few questions like:

  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • What do you want your contribution to the world to be?
  • What things about life and your career are most important to you?

Beyond these questions of purpose, I would also encourage you to establish some essential and desirable criteria to support your decision. For example, this means identifying some things such as minimum salary and working conditions, that are a must for you to be comfortable and secure.

2. Weighing Up the Pro’s and Con’s

With a definition of what you want to achieve evolving, and with your essential and desirable criteria defined, I would then start looking around. This means considering all the potential options available to you. These options should include everything from staying where you are, staying in the same company and changing roles, starting your own business, or getting a new job…etc…

With your options defined, then I would simply review the pro’s and con’s of each against your purpose and criteria. This will ultimately give you your answer…yes it’s as simple as that!

A Last Thought…

When considering whether to stay or leave any organisation, it’s always easier to stay and complain that the organisation is not giving you what you need – e.g. “they need to pay me what I’m worth!” And, whilst I’m sure this statement might be true, unless you can actually influence this, you need to take charge of your life and make a decision. For many of us, despite psychological contracts changing between employers and employees over the last 10-20 years, our belief that organisations should and will do what’s right by ‘us’ still exists. Hence, it’s often easier when caught in the comfort of an organisation to remain waiting for the organisation to ‘do the right thing’. But, if you’re waiting too long, my question is whether you just shying away from making some tough decisions about your life…and if you are, it’s important to note that by deciding to stay in comfort, YOU’RE still making a decision. So if you’re making a decision anyway…you may as well make sure it’s a good one!!

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