"Should I find a new job?" - a strategic thinking case discussion
July 3, 2014
"Should I find a new job?" This is another famous decision question to come to our programs. You'd think that people might be bashful asking this question in a company-sponsored workshop! But no, they are not because for most of them, it had been a long, agonising decision waiting to be made. So today, we take a mental journey into this famous question with our imaginary friend, Jake, and help him make a decision, and perhaps also see if it can help you make this decision if you too are struggling with it. (For more information on the process, please visit our article on Making a Big Decision)
Let's start with finding the intent. We ask the 5 Why's like this:
"Why is it important for you that you should be looking for a new job?"
"Because I am unhappy in mine."
"So why is it important that you should be happy at your job?"
"Because then I can contribute better."
"So why is it important that you should contribute better?"
"Because then I can feel that I am doing something."
"And why is it important for you to feel that you are doing something?"
"Because then I can be more fulfilled."
At this juncture, we don't really need to continue asking the "Why" questions because all personal decisions will end up with being happy, fulfilled, contented or any other such synonyms. And frankly, they don't say much. So we back up one answer and see if that indeed is the intent: to be doing something. Actually both preceding answers - to be doing something and contributing - are somewhat the same. So either of the two could be the intent, but I would prefer using "contribution" as the intent because it is more positive.
Once the intent is confirmed, we now look for success factors. A success factor is the end goal of the decision; it helps the person articulate what the intent really is, fleshing it out. So, in this case, the success factors may be:
1. To be actively involved in major projects in the company (at least 1 a year)
2. To kickstart or incubate new ideas for growth (at least 3 a year)
3. To have colleagues come up to me to thank me for my contributions (at least 4 a year)
4. To receive at least 5 letters of thanks from customers (internal and external)
5. To not have the feeling of helpnesses at all
We start looking at options to achieve the intent. Obviously the decision question - to seek a new job - is an option and should be number one. But there will always be others...even if we don't like them. So here are the options
1. Find a new job
2. Start my own business
3. Get more involved at work (not be so passive waiting for things to happen)
4. Volunteer for a social cause
5. Do something small on the side (give tuition, set up a blog shop etc)
Thinking in time
This allows us to see what significant events or decisions have impacted my situation and whether we can source the solution from there.
I have always been timid. I don't really like to ask for things. So I really either need to be more assertive or stay away from options that require assertion.
I have been in this job for 11 years - stagnant and unfulfilled. Either I am extremely tolerant or don't like to shake the status-quo; either way, change will not come easy for me.
This has only been my second job. I stayed 9 years in my previous one. It really confirms my risk-averse nature, This means that I have to take a less aggressive option.
In a sense, at this stage, Jake already has a pretty good idea which options won't work for him and what he might well have to do. But he is still keeping an open mind...
Provided that I can:
continue to draw the same, or more, salary than I am now
curb excessive expenditure
maintain my current lifestyle
spend at least 2 unfettered hours a day with my family
I don't think I have any assumptions. Maybe that's the assumption?
Drivers & Systemic Solutions
Omitted for technical reasons
Formula #1: Become a Service Conciege in my current company. (Hmmm...)
Formula #2: I don't have a customised solution yet. Maybe after we have done Formula #1?
Formula #3: Back to the Concierge service idea again!
Formula #4: Take on a more enlarged role in my current company for some financial incentive?
Formula #5: Concierge again???
Formula #6: Do something different on the side (as in previous options)
Formula #7: Darn it! That's the Concierge idea once again!
This concierge idea seems to pop out all the while. It is making me think that this is something I really could do in my company!
Balancing options with constraints
After collating the options, which included the concierge idea, we put them through each constraint and end up with the following available options:
Get more involved at work (concierge or enlarging role)
Volunteer for a social cause
After applying scenario thinking, Jake realised that while volunteering might "feed his soul", it might ultimately cramp his current lifestyle, which is a big constraint. Getting more involved at work seemed to fit very nicely into all his constraints and what he felt was the right thing to do.
So, with a feeling of confidence and accomplishment, Jake has decided to get more involved in his work, share his ideas about the concierge service with his VP, and see if he can contribute more than what his job description says. It looks like a win-win-win solution!
I know this is not your situation. But I hope that as you read this, it might trigger your own thinking and help you decide if you should find a new job or not. If you're still having a problem making that decision, drop me an email at email@example.com and I will help you out. It's free advice!