The Need to Find a New Position–The Telltale Signs

By Mitch Wienick, President, Kelleher Associates

I’ve been reading a fascinating book recently titled “The Maisky Diaries: The Red Ambassador to the Court of St. James, 1932-43”. Ivan Maisky was the Soviet Union’s ambassador to Great Britain during the tumultuous 1930s and early 1940s as the clouds of war were forming and, then, the storm of battles raged. A particularly gripping part of the book occurs in the weeks leading up to June 22, 1941 when Nazi Germany attacked and invaded the Soviet Union. Illustrative of one of the many foibles of the human condition was Stalin’s refusal to accept that Hitler would attack his country despite incontrovertible evidence of a vast military build-up on his nation’s Western border coupled with the receipt of confirmatory top secret information from British intelligence. Said another way, Stalin was in complete denial that Germany would abrogate a non-aggression treaty signed two years earlier, despite repeated and overwhelming evidence that Hitler could not be trusted to keep his word.

Similarly, though not on such a grand scale, executives often face situations where it is easier to deny reality about their work situation and continue to do what they have always done, despite growing evidence to the contrary. Often the most salient situation is one where they have to seriously consider leaving their current employer and make a job change. I’ve listed below 10 common reasons and conditions which, individually or in combination, should be telltale signs that seeking a new position should be very high on an executive’s career agenda:

  1. You are not getting along with your immediate boss or supervisor (or, if you’re the CEO, you are constantly clashing with your board of directors or investors).
  2. Your immediate boss or supervisor has just changed and he (or she) seems to have his own team in the wings to take key positions, one of which may be yours.
  3. You have little or no opportunity for learning and development or personal growth.
  4. You have little faith in the company or business unit strategy.
  5. The company is a takeover target or rumored to be one. Also, as a corollary, an activist investor has just announced a big ownership stake in your company.
  6. The industry is troubled or is expected to be.
  7. You are underpaid or underappreciated.
  8. Your peers are moving faster up the ladder and being given more responsibility than you are.
  9. You are working crazy hours, commuting long distances, or on the road most of the time.
  10. People you respect are dissatisfied and leaving the company.

So rather than setting the stage for disaster, as befell the Soviet Union in 1941-43, by being in denial, I would encourage you to proactively seek another, more gratifying, position in a new organization.