Our news feeds are full of stories about The Great Resignation. About how COVID-19 has changed our priorities and how many of us are seeking work that is less demanding, less time-consuming, and less stressful. For many of us, it feels like the veil has been lifted on our pre-pandemic lives. Were the hours of commuting, lunches eaten hurriedly at our desks between meetings, and lonely nights on business trips all worth it? If you’re one of the many seeking a more balanced schedule or less stressful life, the pervasive Great Resignation conversation may be urging you to make a move.
However, the opportunity to choose a new job, or even a new career path, is not available to everyone and it may not be available to you. Maybe you’re not quite ready to move in a different direction due to financial considerations. Maybe you’re uncertain about what you truly want your career path to look like. Or you want to stay where you are, even if it’s not ideal – you adore your manager, value your client or feel inspired by the work itself, but wish you could have more personal control over your schedule. Guess what? You can. And you don’t need to join the Great Resignation.
I have five tips to make your current role work for you.
- Challenge the idea that change is impossible. We tell ourselves all sorts of stories about why we can’t change our circumstances – “it’s always been this way,” “the company culture doesn’t allow for more flexibility,” “if I let my boss know I need more balance, they’ll think I’m not ambitious,” and the list goes on. Take some time to examine the stories you’re telling yourself. What evidence do you have to support these stories? Have you spoken to your manager or team about new possibilities, or are you assuming that you’re stuck? Give others the opportunity to support you (and maybe even admit to themselves that there’s a better system for the whole team). It might feel a little scary to approach these conversations, but you can do so in a way that will benefit you and your team.
- Get clear about what you need and what you want. Find a quiet moment and write your “needs” and “wants” into two columns, like this:
It’s important to be very specific about what you need to be successful and what you want to be successful – this helps you understand which circumstances are non-negotiable for you and which are negotiable. For example, I need at least two days per week working from home to be successful – my job as a coach requires that I can hold sessions that are truly confidential, and this is much easier to do over Zoom from home than in the office. But I want to work remotely full time, only going into the office occasionally for team strategy sessions and moments of collaboration. I find I’m more productive mostly remote, but could make it work if I was needed in the office 2-3 days per week.
- Align your needs with the needs of the business. Now that you’re clear about your needs and wants, take a step back and objectively look at them through the lens of your company. How does meeting your needs support the company? Does giving you a flexible schedule align with the company’s brand of being a caring, flexible place to work? If so, would you be willing to write a positive Glassdoor review or do a LinkedIn testimonial touting the company’s flexible policies? Does allowing you to set non-traditional work hours ensure that you’ll be more productive in the early morning? If so, can you guarantee your manager that they’ll see a more polished, timely work product from you? Get super-specific about how meeting your needs will help the company grow.
- Speak to your manager. Have an open conversation with your manager, and leave all assumptions and stories behind. You never know – they may be considering a new schedule or work arrangement, too! If you can clearly articulate what you need and want to be successful in your current role, and how your individual success supports the success of your team and of your company at large, you make a compelling business case that’s very hard to argue against.
- Negotiate. That said, your manager may not be able to give you everything you want. This is why you took the time (see step 2 above) to get clear about what you need to be successful in your current role and what you want. Hold fast to your needs, and be open and flexible about your wants. If you follow these steps, I can guarantee that you and your manager (and your company) can reach a work arrangement that works for both of you.
In this current moment, workers have a great deal of power. Don’t assume you have to leave your job to make it work for you. Don’t assume you have to throw out what you love about your job to see improvement in the things that aren’t working for you. Don’t assume that you must join the masses taking part in the Great Resignation. We’re currently in the throes of an incredibly competitive talent market. Your company cares a lot about retaining its most talented people, including you. They very well may be willing to work with you to change the circumstances of your role to better support your success in it. Feel the power that you have, define how your needs and your company’s needs align, and ask for what will help you be at your best, right where you are.