How to know when it’s time to go

The relationship you have with your job is in many ways like your other interpersonal relationships. There’s a balance of power, there are goals and expectations, and sometimes the parties involved don’t communicate that well. When your goals are aligned with your company’s goals, life is good. But when there’s a mismatch, or a timing problem or, worst of all, an absence of information, things can get sticky. And there are few things worse than not knowing where you stand, whether at work or elsewhere.

Are you the person who gets perpetually passed over, hierarchically ignored, developmentally marginalized — and yet remains optimistic about their prospects? Has your career plateaued, but still you have hope for future promotion and professional glory? Are you languishing in a job that you do adequately well but is not inspiring, and yet you can’t seem to navigate out of it into something more challenging or fulfilling?

If you think there’s an issue, if you think you’re getting overlooked or ignored — you probably are. And the WORST thing you can do is ask about it. The fact is, if you’re top talent, you’ll know. So if you don’t, you’re not. If they’re into you they’re treating you right and providing you with opportunities, no matter what the state of the economy or the business.

The fact is, particularly in the pressured and constantly changing business environment these days, company talent requirements and performance expectations change. If you’re not adapting, if you’re not constantly on the leading edge of what you do and bringing new value to your company, you are vulnerable. Being the longstanding subject matter expert, or that trusty “we can always count on …” sort of manager only has value if nothing about the business evolves. And we all know that’s not happening.

In all my years coaching in organizations, I’ve yet to encounter the company where productive, constructive, truthful feedback is given and received well and consistently. Which means that if you’ve reached, or nearly reached, the extent of your value, they might not tell you directly. So unless you can read the signs, you could languish beyond your “best before” date — or worse, get surprised at the next downsizing (er, rather, “restructuring”).

So at what point have you stayed too long? How do you know that it’s (finally) time to move on to greener pastures? Here are a few warning signs that I’ve observed as I’ve watched organizations manage their talent over the years:

  • You got accidentally left off the invite list for the meeting about the new project.
  • Your boss cancelled your one on one — again.
  • Rather than interview you for the next level opening, they tell you they need to hire externally to get “the right experience.”
  • You ask for feedback and get a long winded diatribe on the changing needs of the business.
  • You propose a new initiative and get told “we’ll think about it.”
  • Your boss — and anyone else at that level or above — stops making eye contact with you.
  • You are described as “dependable,” “trustworthy” or “solid” in your performance review.
  • Your request for a salary review gets perpetually lost in HR process and red tape.
  • You are told you’ll get to participate in the “next” leader development program.

These are just a few of the signs I’ve noticed. And the fact is, if you take matters into your own hands and find yourself another job, you’ll find out in a hurry whether your company still wants you. Just don’t capitulate too fast — remember, if they’re into you, they’ll show it.

Executive coach to leaders of big businesses and big ideas. Coaching company owner. Author of The Accidental Alpha Woman. Traveler. Shape shifter. Single mom.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

A little about me

Champong our dog is running freely at a wide open park.

Empaths at Work: Why Doing the Right Thing Feels So Wrong

Card Sessions: Reframing Things

10 Real-World Skills They DO NOT Teach You In Schools

Loy Machedo Thinking & Working

A Letter to Our Twin Cities Community

PuPPy Year-end Message, Part 1 of ?

Whether it’s python or SQL, software developers continue to be in high demand across the industry…

How To Get The Most Out Of Networking Events

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Karen Wright

Karen Wright

Executive coach to leaders of big businesses and big ideas. Coaching company owner. Author of The Accidental Alpha Woman. Traveler. Shape shifter. Single mom.

More from Medium

Refugee Women: Barriers to Career Development -Anna Zhukova

5 Lessons on Hiring

2021:Growth and Suffering