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Should I stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go?

Here’s the scenario: let’s say you have been working at your organization — maybe just three months, or three years or 30 years — but you wake up one morning and you know something has shifted. You feel a sense of dread — this going-to-work-thing is not fun anymore. Just the thought of going to the office or workplace drains your energy. And then the thought pops into your mind, “Should I stay or should I go?”

So you spend a few days or maybe weeks mulling over what’s going on, and why the honeymoon is over. Enter Erickson and Gratton and the signature experience of the organization.

Signature experience

Tamara Erickson and Lynda Gratton, researchers and authors of the HBR article, What it means to work here write, “A signature experience is a visible, distinctive element of an organization’s overall employee experience.”
So whether it’s a change of leadership, a resurgence of the old guard, a deterioration of relationships, organizational change or whatever, the entropy of that experience creates a gnawing hole that can’t be filled with quick fixes. A signature experience can range along a continuum of experiences from extremely negative to overwhelmingly positive.

If the gap between the espoused signature experience of the organization and what turns out in reality is too big, it results in two disappointments:

Role disappointment

In further work, Tamara Erickson, Ken Dychtwald and Bob Morison identified six roles, which attract employees. Think back to when you were hired. Was it because you:

  1. Wanted to contribute something of lasting value?
  2. Were drawn to a predicable and stable work environment with good compensation
  3. Wanted to be part of a winning team?
  4. Desired to live with change and excitement while improving your finances?
  5. Were attracted to the flexibility of the job, but this is not your career?
  6. Wanted the money and perks and stability?

Relationship disappointment

Apart from role disappointment, the quality of relationships is key in determining whether employees decide to stick it out or choose to seek other options. The health of the organization and its signature experience is measured by the integrity of the relationships and the authenticity of the communication practice at all levels within the organization. If there is no authentic, clear and engaged communication between you and your key stakeholders such as your boss, then you will feel disappointed.

The gap between what attracted you to the organization — presuming your signature experience was initially on the positive and inspirational side — and the reality of what you are experiencing now, will cause you to ask yourself, “Should I stay or should I go?”

VIP — The relationship test for work

The VIP Relationship Test for work centres around three fundamental human needs: Your sense of value, the quality of interactions you have and your identity as a distinct person.
Although the focus is on clarifying relationship disappointment, the VIP Relationship Test will apply to role disappointment as well.
Think about the following:

  1. Value — do you feel valued for the work you do? Do you value the work and contributions of your boss and others?
  2. Interact — Can you interact and express yourself freely at work? Do you and your boss both listen to each other?
  3. Person — Can you be your own person at work? Do you have to give up something of yourself to please your boss and other people at work?

VIP - The Relationship Test for Work

Should I stay or should I go?

Before you answer the Should I stay or should I go? question, set aside some time and work through the VIP Relationship Test to get a clearer picture about what’s going on and how it is impacting you in terms of:
– Your sense of value;
– The quality of interactions you have; and
– Your identity as a distinct person

Turning it around

Once you have worked through the VIP Relationship Test, here are three important things to consider and do:
1- Ask yourself, What role have I played in allowing it to get to this?
2- Commit to closing all the role and relationship disappointment gaps where you might not have been fully present, not spoken up, not pushed back and so on; and
3- Make those appointments and have those necessary conversations.

Things can turn around over time if you become present, engaged and set a precedent of open communication (often in a culture of avoidance).
If, after you have had all the necessary conversations, you decide to go because nothing has changed, count on it that variations of these two questions will come up in your next interview:
Give me an example of what you did to remove misunderstandings and improve your relationship with your boss (peers, customers); and   
Describe how you carved out a niche for yourself (made an impact, found your voice) within the company culture.


Dene Rossouw Dene Rossouw

Learning Coach at team Possibil.

INFLUENCING - We help you build your influence and have the necessary conversations of leadership by introducing you to proven practices and tools that get you real results.

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