Editorial – The Must Have Conversation
There’s something in the air. Beyoncé wants us to quit our jobs and build our own foundation. Socials are ablaze with stories of “quiet quitting”. Everywhere you look, employee engagement and productivity seems down. Also, think about how many people you know who are in burnout or actively seeking a new job?
The Atlantic aptly describes our current condition as the colliding pressures of “wanting to be financially secure, but not wanting to let work take over [our lives], but also having major status anxiety, but also experiencing guilt about that status anxiety, and sometimes feeling like gunning for that promotion, and sometimes feeling like quitting, and sometimes feeling like crawling into a sensory deprivation tank.” Even the punctuation of that sentence underlines just how intensely we’re all feeling it right now!
For employers, there are also concerns about labour shortages, managing remote work and trying to build office culture with our new hybrid work model. Whereas working for one company for decades was once seen as an accomplishment, today’s professional wants to gain more diverse skills, earn more money and have more say in how their career evolves and progresses. Job-hopping provides those opportunities.
But before you jettison your career to run an empanada stand in Hawaii, however, you have to decide whether switching jobs will truly serve your professional goals. The first step is understanding that the frustration you’re feeling is real–it’s not just you.
A recent study reveals that 70% of Canadian and U.S. workers are actively looking for a new job. This high number can be explained by employees experiencing a lack of “clarity of expectations, opportunities to learn and grow, feeling cared about, and a connection to the organization’s mission or purpose”. But what it may actually be pointing to, is a failure of leadership. If this is the issue, then the question becomes: How can we get leaders to understand what’s really at stake, so that they can take action?
If the problem lies with leadership, then switching jobs may potentially only lead to another dead end. Things may be “greener” for six months, but will the patterns repeat? If you’re thinking about switching jobs, there’s one easy solution that will either reinforce your decision to stay or ensure that you have a better experience in your new role. That is, communication.
Have you spoken to your manager recently? And not just idle coffee chat. When was the last time you had a 1:1 in which you communicated your goals, expectations and concerns? Did you, the last time you hit a wall, approach your manager about getting help or suggesting another workflow?
That’s not to put all the responsibility on employees for speaking up, of course. But it is your responsibility to advocate for yourself. If your employer hears you out and does nothing, then back to the job search you go. If they do react positively and follow-up with action, then you’re probably in a better place than you first thought.
If you’re the one managing “quiet quitters”, conversations with your team can help reduce disengagement and burnout. In fact, Gallup suggests the best habit for managers to develop is having one meaningful conversation, of 15-30 minutes, per week, with each team member. As a manager, you must also show employees how their work contributes to your company’s goals and values. When people feel seen and validated, they are more motivated to support and be proud of their organization. Something that can be done without even being in the same room.
Our individual well-being and development greatly depends on how well we understand our own needs, how well we communicate those needs, and how well our organizations support those needs. Rather than stew in the juices of your frustration, take action! Book that chat with your manager and confirm whether you’re at the right place for this stage of your career. Beyoncé would want you to.
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