Workplace Doctor: Next move on career path after quitting because of unbearable boss
I decided to quit my job because I can’t deal with the evil psychopath any more [the reader previously wrote in complaining about a psychopath boss]. I feel like a complete failure for wanting to step down and walk away. I know it is not my fault but I am still keeping my head down in shame; it’s such a terrible feeling. I feel like the problem is in me – I always get horrible bosses. Am I doing the right thing to quit? TJ, Ajman
It certainly sounds like you are in a quagmire of mixed emotions regarding a job that I can only assume you like performing, yet are ready to leave due to a leadership style that is unacceptable to you. Guess what? You are not alone.
I firstly would encourage you to stop beating yourself up. Pain is nature’s way to tell us to stop or do less of what brings the pain, so the fact that you have come to a point of drawing a line and eradicating the pain seems positive to me. Ask yourself what criteria was the basis for drawing the line, and if that is something you place importance on, then the decision seems aligned and “of service”. Congratulations for taking that choice.
I trust that ridding yourself of one pain is not for the simple fact to replace it with another. Let’s face it – you love your job when it’s in an environment that is acceptable. When a work environment is unacceptable, I believe that by default it means that job is also unacceptable, which therefore should bring some clarity for your future job hunting that takes into account tasks and environmental factors. Did you prioritise both in your last job search process?
Many people say that it’s a tough thing to understand a work environment and/or leadership style until you actually get inside the company. I would agree, yet only to a point. Ask yourself the following:
• Did you meet your direct report during the interview? If not, that speaks volumes as a working relationship is just that – a relationship, and there’s many who we wouldn’t opt to have a relationship with.
• Did you interview your direct report as much as he or she interviewed you? Take the standard question: think of a time when something didn’t go well – what was it and how did you handle it? Find a way to also explore that from his leadership. You’ll not only hear more about priorities, but also see a reaction to that question. Did you probe for more information during the interview? For example if interviewing for a training position, did you see how much they wished to be involved with key content? If interviewing for a marketing position, what is their involvement level in new marketing campaigns?
• Did you undertake ample investigation before accepting an offer? LinkedIn is an amazing tool for information. Locate folk who may have or currently work with the company. View trends of length of service, and dig deep to see if you know any of their connections. This way you may be able to get to ask a current employee for real honest answers about the work environment. And don’t forget to view the leader’s profile too.
Let’s not forget these for the next job.
One further point for you to ponder – a little from the alternative side. When we hurt in the presence of someone else, always explore what could be within yourself that they represent or bring out in you. If we don’t like it in others, we certainly don’t want it hanging around in ourselves.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Debbie Nicol, the managing director of Dubai-based business en motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for the Workplace Doctor’s advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague
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