Know Your Why–Gut Decisions and Your Career

Kelly Dingee Career Advice, Career Paths, Coaching, Culture, Employee Coaching, Employee Communications, Employee Development, Employee Engagement, HR, Kelly Dingee, Learning, Learning and Development, Managing People, Office Politics, Organizational Development, Talent Management, The HR Profession, Training and Development

I feel like I should dedicate this post to PFP, a local gym my youngest daughter attends. My youngest has scoliosis, and in addition to being braced for a number of years by a phenomenal Orthotist, she’s been working out with a trainer to have an amazingly strong core. The best news–the workouts at PFP have been pivotal in reducing her curves so she’ll never need surgery.

PFP is an interesting place, the typical box gym run by a team of extremely peppy trainers, and as a client, you are not entering or leaving without a high five and a hug.  And their most important tenet is “What’s Your Why?” Why are you here? Why are you doing this? Why will you keep coming back? For my daughter, it’s simple, check her curve by strengthening her curve and develop a strategy to keep it checked forever.

It’s such a simple question and a brilliant concept. I’m using it on the daily at my job because one of the best parts of what I do is getting to be a sounding board. I enjoy it, especially as someone who is third-party to a situation, because you often have the luxury of being able to see the pieces of a problem more clearly. The people visiting my office can take or leave my advice, but my duty is to make them think.

Often the conversations in my office are centered around:

Should I go for that job?

I think the first question to conquer is: Why are you looking? That’s often an easy one for the people I’m chatting with, as I supply temps to our company.  So it’s likely they are rolling off an assignment and seeking another. But sometimes, their current gig is just not doing it for them. It may not be challenging, they feel ready for a step up, or the team is dysfunctional. Sometimes it’s totally financially driven. It’s always important to know “the why.”

The why helps to sort out next steps; if the reason you’re looking for a new gig is that the other is ending, awesome. So straightforward. But if it’s more complex, like unhappiness with a co-worker, not trusting your boss, not being challenged or money dissatisfaction, you have to decide how adult you want to be. Do you want to have the next conversation? The one you need to really have with your boss to surface and address those issues? Go to HR to escalate? Or do you want to run into a new opportunity with things unsaid?

Confrontation is hard.

Office politics are a challenge to manage. You ultimately have to decide how you want to handle a situation, and if you’re going to a new gig, you have to figure out if you can live with how you leave the old one. Is it better to leave behind the perception of smooth sailing or is it better to surface and conquer issues?

Interestingly enough, I have two people in a very similar situation; both entry-level roles, both 18-24 months in and both ready for what’s next. One is a business acquaintance employed by a small company in the DMV. She has been in a very dysfunctional office situation with a toxic boss, but she has also confronted the crazy with HR and her management. She’s had very honest and uncomfortable conversations, talking about what she wants to do next and why. The other is also a business acquaintance in a non-growth role, but she has not approached HR or management about her dissatisfaction. Something is holding her back. Both have gone with their guts on how to navigate their situations.

The first business acquaintance who uncomfortably grabbed the bull by the horns nearly 8 months ago just received a promotion. The toxic boss she worked with left her organization, and management realized the uncomfortable conversations she was willing to have were a definitive sign of her growth and readiness to lead.

And the business acquaintance who was not ready to have the uncomfortable conversations? She’s still unhappy. She’ll get there–she knows the conversations she needs to have and what the outcomes may be.

Knowing your why–why you want to have the conversations, why you’re unhappy, why you’re job searching–makes all the difference in the outcomes.

Know your why, and you’ll be able to make peace with your job dilemmas.