01 Apr 2017 16:18 IST

Knowing when to quit

This isn’t restricted only to retirement, but to every aspect of change. Especially job change

When Indian cricketer MS Dhoni stepped down as captain and announced his retirement from Test cricket, fans were all sad. Social media was inundated with posts about ‘Captain Cool’ and how everyone would miss his captaincy. Even his detractors grudgingly admired and applauded his decision.

You must be wondering why I’m writing about retirement in a column that’s aimed at people starting their careers. After all, the ‘retirement phase’ is years ahead and even then, the chances are that a person will continue even after the mandatory age in some capacity or the other. Or not continue and retire earlier! It’s all about when you want to quit.

Push and pull factors

But the topic of knowing when to quit is not confined to retirement alone. It pertains to every decision with respect to change, especially when comes to switching jobs or taking a plunge into entrepreneurship.

In a majority of cases, the decision to quit whatever a person is doing and pursue something else, is influenced by an existing situation in their job and organisation. This is what I refer to as push factors. In a few cases, the decision is influenced because they have been approached and are given an extremely lucrative competitive offer. This would be the pull factor.

Most decisions to quit and move on to something else is influenced by a combination of push and pull factors.

‘Grass is greener’

The irony in such decision-making is that a person tends to magnify every possible negative aspect of the push factors while having an exaggeratedly positive view of the pull factors. This can be summarised in the old saying — “The grass is always greener on the other side”.

This aspect of knowing when to quit assumes critical significance in the early years of a person’s career. If they succumb to the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome, it will only lead to further frustration, as the disproportionately high expectations would be hard to satisfy.

Grin and bear

Here’s an instance. After working in an organisation for approximately six months, a management graduate asked me for advice with regard to a job change. That person was quite dissatisfied with the current job, even though it was with one of the better companies and offered a competitive starting package. The dissatisfaction was linked to:

~ Repetitive and monotonous activities that were a part of the job did not lead to any learning.

~ Intense work pressure and constant follow-up by the boss.

~ Politics in the organisation.

My suggestion to that person was to grin and bear the situation instead of rushing to quit the job. Mainly because all these push factors are fairly common in every organisation.

The reality

The aspect of repetitive monotonous work is the reality across jobs. A large chunk of any professional’s time is spent handling such repetitive tasks which might be boring but are important. The perceived lack of learning is largely due to the incorrect perception of knowing everything, thanks to a management degree.

The next aspect of work pressure is again, a norm that cannot be escaped unless a person renounces everything and becomes an ascetic. Last, politics exists in every sphere of life and needs to be handled.

However, in the above case, the perceptions of these push factors was so overwhelming that the person quit that job and joined another organisation. Unfortunately, the very same factors existed even in the new workplace. The only outcome of this change was a very short stint at the first job which would be definitely questioned in future interviews.

(Second part of this article will appear in two weeks)

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