Saturday, February 1, 2014

Should I stay, or should I go





Job offer on the table and I can't decide whether I should take it or not.  I used to hop between contracts and jobs all the time.  But now I feel paralyzed by this decision -- like I know that if I make the leap,  I will regret it after a week.  Every new job (or relationship for that matter) ends up being a disappointment.  And that's because you expect too much from it -- that it will bring you eternal bliss.  This one is really tough because it might be good in the long run.  However, I am REALLY happy in my job.  In fact, I stopped looking altogether last year.  This job opportunity just fell into my lap.  So maybe some brainstorming will help me figure out what it is I want.

What do I like about my job:

flexibility:   I can pretty much set out what I want to work on and how; my superiors trust that I will get whatever work needs to get done in the best way possible.  Sometimes I end up a bit lost, trying to figure things out, taking short-cuts, making rash decisions.  But most of the time I thrive.  I feel connected to my work because I have a big say in how it should be done.  Flexibility is very important for me.

the people:  I have a great team and wonderful supervisors.  I am very fortunate.  I've worked on other great teams as well, so shouldn't feel that I wouldn't get that in my next job.  I just feel really lucky to have ended up with such dedicated and kind people.  It makes my job easy.

the variety:  I'm in charge of the whole enchilada, not just a tiny sliver -- library, records management, IM systems, policy, awareness and training, and IM business analysis.  Every single day is different and I am still learning so much.  I am rarely bored because I get to play in multiple areas of my domain.  The variety is wonderful.

more on flexibility: I can tele-work, I can take surfing brain-breaks, I can take the occasional long lunch, I can work extra time to take time off.  Hell I even took the entire summer off.  I've become so used to this that I can't imagine working in an environment that was less flexible ... not that the new place is not (I don't know), but I'd have a really hard time if it wasn't a flexible work environment.

What I don't like about my current job:

not making a difference:  we are not known, our work is not a priority with Sr. Mgmt.  If our team disappeared off the face of the earth, no one would even notice.  This is hard because I need meaning.  I still believe that my work helps others do their work more easily and makes government more transparent and accountable.  But then I see how little we've actually done to make a difference where it counts and I'm disheartened.  Is it just this way in my Agency, or is it like this across the GC?  I don't know.

lack of upward mobility:  my manager is younger than me, so she will not likely retire soon; I don't even have her skillset, so filling her shoes one day is out of the question. My director told me that my job will never be re-classified to a director-level job (like it is in the rest of the GC).  It's just the way it is.  Do I really want a promotion?  Marginally more money, lots more politics and a whole lot more stress, no thanks.  I just want my job classification to be commensurate to my current level of responsibility.  That's not going to happen unless I move -- to another dept or to another branch within my Agency.

lack of discipline:  we're a bunch of cowboys in my branch; we're constantly responsive to operational emergencies (and I like that), but we don't have any discipline or thought for the future -- planning, project management, strategy, policy ... these are foreign concepts where I work that just don't fit with our culture.  How'd I'd love to learn to do things properly for a change!  Maybe it would actually make a difference in our ability to make a real difference?  Then again .... I might feel stifled and frustrated by process and rules because I am used to the flexibility I currently have?  Ugh.

What I like about this job opportunity:

the Director:  she is one class act; not only is her reputation and track record marvellous, she is also a lovely person.  I would learn so much working for her.  I'm certainly learning a lot from my current boss, but she is not an expert in my field, nor does she purport to be.  However, this director plans to retire in 3-5 years.  She's agreed to mentor me. But how much time does she really have with three other managers and a full workload?

Central Agency experience:  everyone I talk to says that it's the key to upward mobility in the GC; learn how the machinery of government works -- it gives you a much different perspective and also looks really good on the CV

the discipline:  they seem to have their shit together at the other organization -- policies, tools, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, big budgets; it's no wonder than accomplish great things

What I don't like about this opportunity:

risk of getting cut:  the role they want me to fill is likely to move to SSC within two years. In fact the previous manager just jumped ship, probably for that reason.  So where would that leave me?  And being the new kid on the block leaves me even more vulnerable to cuts.

boredom:  I'm likely to get bored with having to focus on just one area of my domain -- an area I have a bit of a distaste for lately in fact.  It's not that I don't like technology -- I love technological change.  But I've been disappointed by so many promises of EDRMS systems, that this new one is already fulfilling my lowest of expectations.  Unless I have the opportunity to get involved with other initiatives, I could see myself losing interest fast.

fear of the unknown:  I don't know anything about the people (other than the Director), including the people I will manage.  I don't know if the work will be interesting, if I'll adapt, if I'll live up to their expectations, if I will be happy.  I have no idea. I'm clearly not comfortable with the change.

So, what to do?  I think I've made up my mind -- at least for today!

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