Why Do You Want To Leave Your Job?

Neill Archer Roan doesn’t write as often as I would like him to, but when he does, it is always worth reading. Apropos to my entry last week about how I suspected turnover in nonprofits was having a greater negative impact than organizations were letting on, Neill quotes a gentleman named Matthew Kelly on the core reasons for turnover.

“The #1 reason people leave a job is not because they have a dysfunctional relationship with their manager or because they don’t feel appreciated. They leave because they cannot see the connection between the work they are doing today and the future they imagine for themselves.”

Now given that I have had those exact same thoughts verbatim when I was considering leaving a job and until this morning believed I was the pretty much the only one who did, I felt an obligation to quote it. While I haven’t always liked my bosses and certainly felt under appreciated, it wasn’t enough to make me want to leave. Others I have worked with have said, and occasionally fumed, they were leaving because of bosses, under appreciation, lack of pay and work environment.

I always thought I was atypical for having “pictured something different for myself as a primary reason for moving on. Frankly, next to “the boss is a bastard,” it seems like pretty weak motivation. If the boss isn’t a jerk and things aren’t overly oppressive, why would anyone want to move on?

Probably because the boss is a jerk is a more convincing reason than I want more self-actualization and so the boss gets blamed a lot more often than he/she should because nobody has the guts to admit they want more fulfillment. People expect fulfillment from their spouses and low cal, low fat brownies, work is supposed to be dispiriting, endured and complained about. I want more from my job sounds whiny in comparison.

Interestingly enough, about 10 years ago I was attending a customer service seminar. The woman leading it quoted stats showing that quality of product being equal, people don’t defect to a competitor because they are cheaper, that is just the easiest excuse to use. Kelly’s message seems to be quite similar.

While I wouldn’t be surprised to learn a little consumer mentality has crept into how we approach our jobs over the last decade, I suspect that this unspoken motivation has been lurking below the surface for a long while now.

I will say that was I a little disappointed with the way Kelly’s piece ended. It started out being damn interesting and thought provoking but ended with a him encouraging people to follow their dreams which just seemed de rigeur motivational speaking.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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