The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

Get out of your rut and find your passion

Archive for May, 2009

Why We Leave

Posted by Karen on May 20, 2009

The Globe and Mail reports the results of a survey on why employees leave the job. What’s interesting is the discrepancy between why the employees leave versus why managers and HR people think they leave.

Below are the most common reasons, in order of importance, that workers give for voluntarily leaving an employer:

1. Lack of trust in senior leaders

2. Insufficient pay

3. Unhealthy/undesirable culture

4. Lack of honesty/integrity/ethics

5. Lack of opportunity for training and development.

By contrast, the following are the top reasons managers say they think their employees left:

1. Insufficient pay

2. Unexpected job/career opportunity

3. Decision to change careers

4. Lack of work-life balance

5. Lack of opportunity for training and development.

If you look closely at the catalyst for people leaving their jobs, it has a lot to do with values and respect for how the organization runs. The employers on the other hand, tend to attribute it to reasons beyond their control – a desire for change, a new opportunity, a budgeting issue.Β Sometimes intolerable work situations are so systemic that it’s impossible for the organization to see itself as the root of the problem.

It’s like a dysfunctional family – they rarely think they’re dysfunctional because “that’s just the way we are and how we do things”. It’s when we, the employee become the observer and realize that we are not interested in investing our energy into an unhealthy channel. We don’t want our identity mingled with something we don’t believe in or invest our self-worth somewhere that is clearly not valuing it.

And that’s a good thing.

It’s a sign that we’re healthy when we don’t wish to participate in something that isn’t, no matter what the cost to our security and pocketbook. Because those situations aren’t secure, they eat away at our most precious commodity – our sense of self. When someone leaves a toxic work situation, it often takes awhile before they can feel confident and relaxed again. Sometimes it takes even longer…I’ve worked with the emotional scars people carry years later from a bad experience with an organziation.

The only way to truly “heal” an organization – especially if we are not in a leadership position to do so from inside – is to leave it. Giving your energy in service of a toxic organization does not serve you, or the organization. It’s the equivalent of enabling a user and the user will take you down with it.

When an organization isn’t listening, it’s time to leave.

Posted in Careers and Work in the News | 1 Comment »

The “Good Girl” Trigger

Posted by Karen on May 15, 2009

Quick post this morning as I find myself in limbo between two commitments. I had to admit defeat this morning – I’d said I’d be somewhere by 8:25am – to leave at 9:15am to be somewhere else equally if not more important – to come back afterwards. When I realized I couldn’t make it by 8:25am, I had to let the first commitment go.

What’s interesting for me to observe, as I sit here preparing for the next commitment, is how I tuned out a more self-nurturing and logical approach, which was not to try and make a small part of an all day meeting for 40 minutes in the morning. How did I miss how stressful that would be? Why did I think that would be a good idea?

It’s the good girl thing. I wanted to be good in the eyes of both groups of people. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. And, as so often happens, I ended up disappointing one group even more by not meeting my stated commitment.

How to transcend an emotional trigger that seems to trump common sense?

There’s more that can be written about this, but in short, one has to be willing to listen to what’s going on inside. I notice that in the last few days I have refused to check in with this commitment I made last week, even as it got more unwieldy and unmanageable as the day approached.

I’ve had an inner dread of this morning. I ignored it. I pushed it away, right when the best thing to do would be to listen to the dread. The dread would have told me “You are trying to be in two places at once and you know you might not be able to. You might actually miss the wrong meeting, the one you are really supposed to be at”.

It may feel like there are two equal priorities that are clamouring for attention, but when it comes down to the emotional nitty gritty, there’s always a priority. And I wasn’t listening to what the priority is today.

I am not beating myself up mind you. I feel grateful that a misstep in timing helped me realize the truth of the morning. It’s a great wake up call to stay present to feeling, even more so when things feel high stakes important.

Wishing you all a great day, connected to your Source.

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On Being Sick II

Posted by Karen on May 13, 2009

Due to the small germ incubator I live with, I have been sick more times in the last 5 months than I have for the last 5 years. I’m toldΒ this stage of constant viral visitsΒ lasts a year while Freddy’s immune system has a little party with every bug it encounters. Having been through chicken pox, stomach flu, two different respiratory viruses and most recently laryngitis (for FOUR days…try not talking for FOUR days…especially if your work and home life relies on the talking!) I’m not sure quite what else is in store (I’m crossing my fingers that swine flu will not be on that list).

Still, the upside of sickness is feeling the energy return. My apologies for the radio silence…I’ve got all kinds of ideas and interesting things to tell you about and to reference, which will start emerging as I regain my energy and enthusiasm.

And the lovely counter-point to all the germs he brings home is watching my son bloom. I had no idea how much fun it would be to witness a human being coming into his own awareness. It’s such a privilege. Watching Freddy explore language and numbers and stories and his boundless imagination, and then seeing how he takes these experiences and begins to connect them together and create context is an extraordinary experience and well worth all the yucky bugs. And the potty training. And the early morning wake ups.

Wait, why did I have a kid again?

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