By Jimmy Guterman
You made the leap to management. You’ve learned quite a bit and you’ve offered your employer good value, but you’re two years into your new role and you feel like you’ve hit some sort of a ceiling. You know your current position won’t satisfy you much longer. You feel … stuck. You know you have to move, but in what direction?
When many young managers wrestle with whether it’s time to leave their current position, they frame it as a binary: stay or go. But, especially for people working for medium-sized or large organizations, there are at least three options to consider beyond staying in place.
First, do you like the team you work with but it’s your particular role that’s getting you down? If you have a good working relationship with your boss, you might want to start the what-do-I-do-next conversation with him or her. Besides, if you have a good boss, it’s possible that he or she has sensed that you’re antsy. If you have ideas for how you might be more useful to the team (and happier), start talking about it before the current role becomes unbearable to you. If your boss values your work and knows how much you like being on you team, you might be able to find a more rewarding role within it.
Second, are you dubious about your own group but like being part of the organization as a whole? There might be other groups where you fit in better. This might initially be a lateral move (same role, different team) rather than a promotion, but a more agreeable team can help you extend your stay at your current company while you figure out whether it’s the place for you longer term.
Third, is it the organization itself that you want to get away from? Do you find major faults in the company’s vision, its flagship product or service, or the way senior management treats everyone else? We all have different levels of tolerance for those issues, but sometimes there’s a fundamental incompatibility between company culture and who you want to be. In that case, chances are you’ll be more effective and happier somewhere else.
These are three broad categories, but they do provide a useful structure for considering what your next move should be — when you realize it’s time. Once you decide if you would prefer to stay with your current team, explore other parts of the company, or just get out, you’ll start your search with a more specific — and attainable — goal in mind.
Sharon Jordan-Evans and Beverly Kaye’s Love It, Don’t Leave It argues for staying at your company, if possible. The section Up Is Not the Only Way champions lateral shifts as one way to keep working at a company if your current position is no longer right for you.
Of course, if you just want to ditch the idea of a job completely and go off on your own you can always Leave the Bastards Behind.