That was the question posed by a recent Forbes column.
“Abigail” says she’s in a miserable job with stressful working conditions. Her boss just gives in to management demands, which means she keeps asking more of her subordinates. Abigail works hard but doesn’t see rewards.
So, Abigail asks, “Should I tell my boss how I feel? Or just leave?”
The Answer for Midlife Career Strategists
At midlife and mid-career, you don’t have time to waste in a job that’s going nowhere.
I’d begin by asking Abigail, what are your career goals? Do you have any prospects for advancement in this company? Are there jobs you’d enjoy within the company?
If so, then use the grapevine to find out how people really get transferred (not the party line of how it should happen). Begin to network with other managers in the company. Maybe someone will invite you to apply for a position in another department.
If not, then figure out if your manager has the ability and willingness to go to bat for you. When you have your performance review, you should be coached about your “next steps” in the company and opportunities for a raise; if not, bring them up.
If your manager is too meek and mousy to fight for you, don’t waste your time.
Whatever you do:
(1) Don’t bring up “feelings.” As a mid-career, mid-life professional, you’re expected to be objective about your career and to think, “It’s just business.” Most people don’t honestly feel this way but it’s part of the corporate game. Focus on asking for what you want and show how your goals are congruent with the company’s.
(2) Stop hanging out with the disgusted coworkers.They won’t help. Instead, listen for factual information and play detective. If nobody from your department ever gets promoted, and/or if there’s lots of turnover, then you know the score. Use your energy to find a new career, not gossip and complain.
(3) You should always be keeping an eye on the job market, even if your ecstatically happy in your current position. Do a job search on the QT and then give your company the minimum notice required in your employee handbook. Usually you just give two weeks. Avoid the temptation to feel sorry for the company. They will survive! If they need your help beyond the two weeks, they can hire you as a consultant.
(4) Do not confide in your boss, the HR department or your coworkers. Ever. They may be “nice” but they’re not friends or family. They have no obligation to help you. Find a confidante outside the company.
It’s often a good idea to hire a career coach or consultant. The cost may seem high but it’s cheaper than losing your job (and you often find a new one faster when you work with a coach). You’ll get more objective advice than you would if you talked to friends and family (and you’ll maintain your friendships!). Ask your tax preparer if your coaching costs are tax-deductible.
I work with many clients who are in this situation. You can start here. We usually accomplish as much in one session as many career coaches do in a month.
Or sign up for my Udemy course, 10 Things To Do When You Hate Your Job.
Or buy my ebook, 10 Things To Do When You REALLY Hate Your Job (free when you hire me for a consultation).