Are you at the right company?
I had a call with a coaching client of mine earlier in the day. He’s a senior software developer aspiring to become an architect.
He thinks he can’t get it because he’s lazy. He’s not putting the correct number of hours of work. He doesn’t have a good network.
He’s really a hard worker.
When he was giving all these excuses: He could have worked longer hours. He could gain some friendships. He could produce a better quality of code. He could…
I stopped him: “Tell me, Jack (not his name). Does your company have the same intentions as you have?”
“What do you mean?”, he asked.
“Simple” I said. “You want to get promoted. You have a great technical knowledge. You are putting in an enormous effort. Is your company aligned with your career goals?”
He was puzzled.
Next day he went to his manager and talked about his career openly. His manager told him that they already have too many architects in the IT department. They don’t need another one. They are happy with Jack where he is.
It became obvious that if he wanted to pursue career growth, he would have to leave.
And leave he did.
If you were in the same situation how could you know when you should stay in your job and when you should leave?
Flag #1: If your career plan doesn’t fit company’s plan for YOU, it is the writing on the wall.
Like Jack, you might think that everybody wants you to evolve but that may not be the case. Checking the company’s intentions and future plans for YOU is key.
Having HR talks is like a couple therapy in this case. It might help, or not. They will try to keep you at your position. Heck, they might even offer a raise.
Your company does have plans for you. Finding out what they are is key. More often than not, it will be directly linked to their goals. If they are a win-win, great.
If not, looking into the job market is a great idea. Staying up to date not for your current position only, but also what the market requires for the position you are aiming to get promoted to helps you put things into perspective.
In Jack’s case, he started to look into job posts as an architect. He looked at his skill gap, and moved to a company that helps him to acquire those skills.
Change scares all of us. But being stuck is much more scary (and costly).
Flag #2: You aren’t learning
When we are working at a company the deal is simple: we provide work, they provide compensation.
The trick here is that compensation comes in many forms. Money and benefits are important, but career progression shouldn’t be ignored. At the end of the day, the company is paying for the captured value.
What happens to your value if you don’t take well care of it?
It vanishes. And takes your salary with it.
For instance: Are you working with an outdated technology that doesn’t add anything to your CV? Are you gaining no people skills? Are you stopped in your tracks when you try to take more responsibility?
These are the most impactful questions to evaluate your progression. If you have multiple “yes” es it is probably to consider parting ways.
Flag #3: Company’s strategy is in conflict with your career aspirations
This one is the most common, and the easiest to overlook.
I often ask my clients, what’s the company’s strategy? More often than not, they can’t answer. Not that they don’t care, they surely do. Most of the time it is not well-communicated by their executives.
But understanding what that strategy is key to determining your future in that company. The strategy shapes the company identity. It gives a clear idea about what would become of it.
What if the company is planning to discontinue the product you are on? Would it matter then if you are a stellar employee?
Is your company investing in a totally different direction than where your career is headed? I.e: different technology, different management style that you are an expert at?
Before you know, your role will become less and less important. Your work will go unnoticed. You’ll get more and more frustrated and ignored.
It is high time to consider departure.
Flag #4: You aren’t surrounded by top performers
We are social beings. We learn better by doing rather than reading up. We continuously get inspiration from our peers that we look up to.
If you look at your career, and other successful people’s careers you’ll see one common theme: They always work with high-achievers.
It makes career progression 10x faster. They know how to work more productively. They have great career advice, from the field. Time passed with these folks are worth weight in gold.
When you don’t have any of these top people to look up to, it will feel like you are making no progress no matter how hard you work.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You are a professional and your skills are in high-demand.
Before it detriments your future prospects, start looking for a work environment where you are surrounded with people much better than you are.
Flag #5: Culture is toxic
For me personally, this one is the hardest to spot.
Especially if you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the company.
Here are some questions to evaluate the company culture:
- Are there too much gossips?
- Are people promoted by shady criteria instead of merit?
- Is there a constant poor communication? Are there constant blame games?
- Is the leadership incompetent?
- Are people around you unmotivated, unlively?
- Do teams constantly fall behind deadlines and plans?
If you answered more than 2 questions on this list as YES, consider running away.
Because negative work environment quickly becomes your professional personality. If you hang around too long, you’ll find yourself engaging in all the bad behaviors. They might work in the short run, but they are utterly detrimental to your career.
A great way to run away from this pickle is to become an independent consultant and take matter at your hands.
Want to find out more?
Check out the full guide on How To Become an Independent Project Manager!
In this comprehensive guide You’ll learn:
🚀 What you need to be prepared for an independent life
🚀 How to see your self-employed journey as a project and create your customized roadmap
🚀 How to prepare a CV that gets clients
🚀 How to test waters BEFORE diving all-in
🚀 How to get clients and sort out your preparation
🚀 Set the mechanics right from the beginning for a successful, satisfying, long freelance career
And more! Enjoy the read! 👇👇