My give a damn’s busted…
That’s true for more than 50% of workers today. Despite not caring about their job performance, despite not having any motivation and even despite a toxic work environment, these same workers will stay… for a really long time.
Why would people stay in a job they hate? Why would someone languish in a futureless position or stay in a toxic environment?
Here are 12 reasons people stay in a job that just isn’t working anymore:
Risk is Scary. Anything unknown is going to carry some level of risk. The very nature of “new” mandates that there is a degree of uncertainty. People fear risk and uncertainty so intensely that the avoidance of that specific pain outweighs intense desire for something better.
Learning something new is hard. You’ve spent months, years, maybe even decades learning not just a specific skillset but specific personalities and processes that make your company work. It’s true, you would have to start over – meeting new people, learning new processes, developing new skills. It’s hard, but it’s rewarding. It’s new, but it’s exciting. Afraid of making new work friends? Just watch an 8-year-old on a playground and take notes.
Golden handcuffs are the American Dream. People complain about their “Golden Handcuffs” as if a) they have no control over staying or going or b) good pay and benefits is some penance they are paying. “I’d leave if the pay wasn’t so good.” “These benefits would be impossible to replace.” Maybe true, but everything has a value. Sit down and figure out what your benefits are worth and negotiate that into your next chapter. Factor it into your sales goals and objectives. Talk to enough people and you may think that being held hostage by good pay and benefits is the dream to which we all aspire.
What Would Other People Think? What would my parents think? What would my friends think? They will think about themselves. They will project their fear onto your situation. If you have a specific reason for leaving, explain it. Bring those closest to you into your decision-making process. Tell your story, tell it well, and fear not for your reputation or what other people think. That’s what I have been doing and who knows? Maybe you will set someone free.
I secretly love complaining. Human beings love complaining. To rail against a common enemy brings us together. My baseball coach my freshman year was the specific object of enmity which transcended him into our solidifying source of team camaraderie. Misery loves company and martyrdom is more fun in groups. Shared discontent is a temporary fix. Alignment of work, life, and values is a permanent one.
But My Title! Being afraid to lose a title, or change a title to one less impressive falls directly in line with the fear of what others will think. You may be the Vice President of Awfulness at a job you loathe, but you’re still a VP right?
I’ve had titles real and self-appointed ranging from Salesman (my least favorite) to Dictator for Life (my second favorite and self-appointed), Fund Manager, Seminar Director, Coach, Husband, and Father (tied for my favorite).
Your title, at the right company, is nothing if not temporary. Don’t like the title at your new gig? Work your butt off to get a better one or ignore it and stack that paper. Or, you could start your own business and make yourself Dictator for Life or Chief Badass… your choice.
There’s Month Left at the End of the Money. You’re not getting ahead, but you’re not getting behind. Money is as tight as a drum, but at least we’re not dipping into savings. Wait, we don’t have any savings. The National Institute on Retirement Security estimates that more than half of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. If you’re not getting anywhere, what the heck are you doing? Risk a month, two months to change everything. How nice would it be to not have to worry about the thermostat setting during a cold New England winter?
Comfort is King. Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion; this includes changes to its speed, direction, or state of rest (Wikipedia). It’s our Comfort Zone, our Box, insert whatever cliche you want – we don’t like change and resist it with an incredible amount of energy. Don’t allow what always was to keep you from what could be.
Commitment Bias. There is a glitch in our brains that forces us to stick with a decision once it’s been made, regardless of whether it was right or wrong. This bias comes up in relationships, in politics, and also in the workplace. We want to stay consistent – if you’re known as the pretzel guy, the insurance gal, the queen of ad sales, you subconsciously want to maintain that persona and consistency. Who do you want to be next? Look forward and become what your next moniker will be.
Avoiding the Hard Choice. In 2008 I was faced with a really difficult decision. I had to choose between comfort and the unknown. I reached out to my mentors, my friends, and my family. My sales mentor simply told me “The hard choice is invariably the right one. If you’re scared, you’re growing.” Thanks Adam.
Feel Guilty. Sometimes, the need to leave a company, to leave a job, is nothing more than the wrong fit. Sometimes its a great company, a great job, fantastic growth potential… Don’t allow your guilt at potentially leaving your former employer in the lurch. It’s ab ig world out there and despite how talented you may be, you are replaceable – especially if the job doesn’t speak to your why.
Lack of Belief. It all boils down to this. Belief in one’s self is not only important for any kind of change, but it is freedom. If you believe in yourself, you will overcome the fear of something new. If you believe in yourself, you know you will make it work… regardless of what you decide to do. Take an inventory of your skills, your talents, your network, and the opportunities available to you. You may be surprised at what you find.
Look, I know this may read like the latest ad for Amway or a script for the late-night real estate guru sales pitch your Cheetos-covered fingers tuned the television into a few nights ago. That’s not the point. The point is that you have to find something that gels with what you really want, what you need to feel fulfilled.
I’ve tried the entrepreneur route. I’ve tried the corporate cogwheel route. Neither was quite right for me. I landed at Beyond because I own my results. I am directly responsible (in both directions) for my income. I’m also a W-2 employee with benefits, direct reports, and people to whom I have to report. I have a marketing department, a leadership team that can’t be beat in the industry and a service center whose ultimate goal is to make my job easier.
It works for me – it’s a combination of entrepreneurship, extreme ownership and a mutually aligned support structure from beginning to end.