Stay Or Switch? 4 Areas to Explore Before Encouraging a Project Switch
By Lucy Rowell, Founder of Impactful Authority
When the going gets tough, many of us have a gut reaction to move to something new. I get it! Most of us are surrounded by a societal culture of throwing things away when it’s not quite working or right for us versus trying to fix them. This mindset can start to creep into decisions we make about all sorts of unrelated things in life, including work.
So how do we support people to take the time to really make sure they’re considering all perspectives versus looking for the easiest route out? Today I share four areas for managers or leaders to consider to support colleagues who are facing the decision to stay or switch jobs/projects.
THE ART OF LISTENING
Frequently what someone gives as a first response to what’s causing them frustration or making them want to switch to a different project/job is not the underlying reason. You need to be able to really listen and see what is being communicated (including through their body language) to really uncover what is creating this reaction.
I’d also encourage you to really understand what their motivations are, either in staying or switching. Understanding their motivations, both inside and outside of work, will help give you a rounder picture of the competing priorities and challenges someone is going through to help support them in their decision-making.
LEAN INTO A SUPPORT NETWORK
A good support network is critical for people when making decisions. Usually, people discuss big work or life decisions with a number of people before making a final decision. Within a work context, the one support structure almost every person has automatically is a manager who should have the individual’s as well as the company’s interests in mind.
Hopefully, most people have colleagues that they can also use as sounding boards.
Coaches and mentors are usually under-utilised but can provide a significant benefit to individuals when used at the right time and with an understanding of what they want support with. I’ve lost track of the number of times people have said I’ve had a coach, but I didn’t get a lot out of it. When I asked what their objectives and motivations to have a coach were, the response nine times out of ten was “Oh I didn’t have any, I just thought it would be good to have one!” Rookie mistake number one.
No matter what stage someone is in their career, encouraging them and helping them develop a support network is critical. For times like this, having a diversity of perspectives and guides to lean on is invaluable.
SEEK OUT THE POSITIVE
In certain times, such as resource constraint times, we know it’s tough. We also know that innovation and creativity come from being constrained (our first positive). If the individual can frame the situation into the positives rather than the negative stories, you’ll immediately see an impact on how people view the situation and start to approach their work.
This is not to say don’t be empathetic. The way someone feels is very important. It’s also important though to look at the straight facts. It is then our conscious choice to put a positive or negative story around them. If the individual can make the shift to a positive story, they’ll be glad they did.
CONTENTMENT IN MASTERY
We know it takes a lot of time to become a master of something and you have to experience a broad range of experiences to be confident you’ve got there.
When individuals are struggling to work out whether now is the right time, I like to think about the learning journey we’re each on and whether there is still more we can learn from being where we are. I’ve found people gain a lot of contentment from this deeper understanding that they’re on the path to mastery and it’s not always going to be easy, but through the tough times, we experience the most growth.
SWITCH WHEN YOU HAVE TO
Sometimes, it is clear that the situation the individual is in is not right for them. They know it, we can see it, and we shouldn’t encourage people to stay in situations that are not supporting their purpose and values, personal growth, self-belief, and mental health.
My encouragement to you is to coach the individual to understand and explore all angles before making the switch. It will also create interesting insights for them about what they should switch to. My experience tells me it’s probably not the thing they’re currently thinking about.
About the Author
Lucy Rowell is a coach, consultant and podcast host catalysing the impact of individuals, teams and organisations. Lucy has over 20 years in senior leadership roles within the area of Data Science in global corporate organisations, as well as being a previous chairwoman for a large non-profit company. She has designed and implemented a number of innovative large team/organisational transformations.
She is the founder of a boutique agency Impactful Authenticity (with a podcast under the same name), where she works with leaders and teams to unlock and harness the power of authenticity to create high-functioning, tightly connected, impactful teams everyone wants to be a part of.