should i stay or should i go?

The grass is always greener on the other side. Remember when that was just about always true? When was that? Back in the mid-to-late 90’s, I believe. At least that was the case here in the US. I left one longtime – somewhat oppressive employer – for greener pastures elsewhere and nearly doubled my salary. Double. And I got a sign on bonus to boot. Imagine that. A sign on bonus! Has anyone below CEO levels even heard of those things in the past 10 years or so? I think they are extremely rare if not altogether extinct.

So this article is probably a little out of place. Most people with a job are pretty happy to have one and probably aren’t looking to rock the boat too much. Many are looking to progress their careers within the organization they are already working for…and that can be a difficult enough undertaking in this still somewhat stagnant economy. But how many are ‘looking around’…looking to move on to somewhere else and leave behind a secure position in a stable organization?

A friend of mine who decided to ‘look around’ foolishly checked the box on the application that said it was ok to contact their current employer. He wasn’t thinking clearly. Within three days he was gone from his current employer AND he didn’t get the job he was shopping for. Yeah, so he’s on the market, unfortunately.

manage projects like a proMore money – lateral move

So maybe it’s not too wise to be looking for greener pastures elsewhere…that depends on your situation. But what if those greener pastures come looking for you? Imagine this scenario…you’re succeeding on a very high profile project and suddenly you become a somewhat hot commodity. You’re offered a similar position – not higher position, just a lateral move – for more money somewhere else…maybe even the customer you’re leading the project for. What do you do? Remember, it’s more money, but a lateral move. Do you take it? Do you take the chance that you’ll be as successful in the new organization as you have been in your current organization? Do you jump for the extra cash – but no bigger title – and give up the tenure and respect and success you’ve realized where you are now? That’s a tough call. You have to consider a few things…

  • What’s your relationship with your superior like right now? Is he supportive, making promises of future promotions and more responsibility? Or is the relationship tenuous and already strained and you both need a change?
  • What’s the corporate culture and stability? You’re succeeding, but overall is the company downsizing? Bad sign. I was let go from an organization I was doing great work for, but they were experiencing financial hardships and needed to focus on sustaining efforts amid crisis…and project management was a luxury at that moment.
  • Are you happy? Can you see yourself in your current organization – hopefully not the same position – in five years? Really try to visualize it…if you can’t then you probably have your answer.
  • Finally…is senior management supportive of you and where the organization is going with your current project management infrastructure? If they seem to be on the verge of restructuring, it may be time to jump ship for more money but no title change anyway. Take what you can get. If they seem stable and supportive and you have a good relationship with a few on the executive management team, then staying put may be the best career move you could ever make.

Summing up – what you’re leaving and what you’re bringing

The answer to my question is difficult and will depend on a lot of factors. And for many of us, it would probably be a very hard decision to make. More money is always nice – and if you have a big family it may make a huge difference. But if it doesn’t have to be about money, don’t make it about money. Because when you jump to another organization, you’re expected to bring new ideas and hopefully make a difference quickly. You’re given time to get used to the corporate culture. However, they also want to see some early successes. And if success doesn’t happen early, then your leash will get short and the organization will likely tire of you earlier than the one you had tenure with and were experiencing success in. Evaluate carefully and take time to make the right decision for the right reasons.

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