Your job is one of the biggest parts of your life. Similarly to a relationship, in which you would carefully evaluate and consider if it’s right for you, whether there are certain situations or behaviors you can’t tolerate, and how happy the situation makes you, we should all be appraising our jobs in the same way. And yet, how many of us put up with aspects of our workplace or career which we would not in other circumstances? Much of the time, the risks feel as if they outweigh any potential benefits. However long you’ve been in your job, you should assess your happiness, satisfaction and work-life balance regularly to decide if it’s a keeper or you need to have the break-up conversation.
Are you being offered training opportunities?
Training and professional development is something which should be incorporated into your job role. Training opportunities and the chance to further your career and develop as a professional are not rewards but will make you more of an asset to the company. It will also increase your employability and give you the leverage to negotiate a pay increase. On your own time, think about where you might like to be in the future, whether that’s a year’s time, or five years. What training and qualifications might assist you on that route? Research the possibilities. It could also be worth looking at others within your organisation. Is there someone in a role you can one day see yourself filling? If so, organise a conversation with them or use LinkedIn to find out what training and qualifications they possess. This will give you an avenue of further research.
Do you have regular meetings with your manager?
Your manager should not be a tyrant to be feared, but instead they should be an advocate and your champion who wants you to succeed. They may not have a system of regular one-to-one meetings with the employees they are responsible for. If not, then you need to take the initiative to instigate a catch up. Be clear in what you want to discuss with them. Is it career progression? Training? Salary negotiation? Whether in an email or face-to-face when asking for the meeting, briefly outline the points you want to cover and suggest a time frame that you think would be suitable to address them in. Firstly, then your manager can adequately prepare for what you would like to discuss and secondly, they won’t be clock-watching as they have slotted you in between other meetings or commitments.
If you don’t feel satisfied by the result of the meeting, for example if the manager has declined a training or development opportunity request, ask them about their decision and whether they can explain it. They may give you some points to work on which will increase the likelihood of the training in the future. If this is the case, schedule a further meeting to evaluate your progress in a set period of time, for example, three months. If you still aren’t happy with the decisions that have been made, it could be time to discuss the matter further with HR. They will keep your discussion confidential and be in a position to advise you.
Find a Mentor
Having a person you are regularly in contact with, who can guide you through your career, in absolutely invaluable. Although potentially difficult to find a mentor, once you have one, they can be a vital resource for you to draw on. It might be someone who has been in the same position as you and can offer advice or guidance on steps you could take to progress. It might be someone who works in an industry you find interesting and would consider moving towards, or simply a colleague or acquaintance you respect. Whoever they are, they should be someone who you trust and can be honest with. This is not an opportunity to brown-nose, but instead has the potential to make your working life easier.
No one would advocate quitting in spite, anger, or without another opportunity available to you if you rely on a regular income to support yourself. However, if your situation has become untenable and you feel that leaving is the option that will most satisfactorily address the issues you have, this may be the right option. Try to better your situation but remember, as with a bad relationship, leaving is an option available to you. Although it may be tempting to discuss this with your manager – and there should be no reason to keep it a secret – remember that if it is the threat of you leaving that causes them to offer you further opportunities, or engage in the discussion you have previously attempted with them, it should not necessarily alter your opinion. Remember, you won’t be able to use that bargaining chip on multiple occasions.
Your career is a significant part of your life – don’t settle for second-best or being underrated. You deserve job satisfaction. If things are too complicated or causing you unhappiness, remember, you can walk away.