I’m here because of unhappiness. It would start on a Sunday night as I thought about what Monday would bring, and wouldn’t relent until I sat at home with the family watching a movie on Friday night. The reason for the unhappiness that permeated my life? My job.
In December 2014 I left that job. On the surface, this might have appeared drastic. After all, it was a well-paying, Director-level role that was part-time and allowed me some flexibility to work from home. The company was well-respected, had thousands of employees globally, and was ranked #1 or #2 in major markets around the world. And I’d been there for more than 12 years, so I knew the company extremely well, through economic ups and downs.
Was I mad to leave this?!? Some might say ‘yes’. But what I could no longer deny was the impact my job was having on my health, my family, and my sense of self-worth.
What made it so bad, to the point of having to leave?
Leadership and culture.
Leadership: Let’s start off by saying that not everyone should lead. Not all people managers are good at managing people. You’d kinda think it went with the territory, huh? Alas, no. Good people managers should bring out the strengths of their people and understand what motivates them. Fail to do this and people will leave. One well-known (and well-researched) statistic is that 75% of people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses. Yep.
So what’s the lesson here? Provide 2 different streams of management. One stream for people who are good at managing people, and the other stream for subject matter experts/technical managers. This would enable career advancement and knowledge progression while also playing to people’s strengths.
Culture: The second reason I left was because the company’s culture just didn’t resonate with me anymore. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good company; it just wasn’t right for me. I wanted a culture that brought passion and meaningfulness to my work, that empowered and enabled me to do my best each day, and that aligned with my personal and professional values. After such a long time working with the company, it’s not surprising that we’d essentially “grown apart”.
So what’s the lesson here? Culture is put at risk every time a person is hired or promoted. Culture is put at even greater risk when this person is a leader of people; someone who will have formal responsibility for guiding the work of others. So ensure the person is the right fit, and consider whether this fit is for the current culture or the desired culture. The element of ‘company culture’ is an increasingly important consideration, particularly for the next generation of leaders: the Millennials. It can’t be ignored!
So now what?
A new career chapter begins! I know I’m not the only one. Not the first to have left a job because of unhappiness. But I want to share my story. I want to pursue my passion for boosting employee happiness ’cause I know just how debilitating it can get if it’s not there.
So my work now is all about how happiness can be integrated into workplaces, how happy/engaged employees impact the bottom line, and the role the physical workspace has to play in all this. How? By writing online learning courses and spreading the word on all things ‘happy’ (and productive!). And aspiring to be the next Chief Happiness Officer.
And that’s why I’m here.