The Great Resignation and Why I Stayed
You’ve all heard that we’re currently going through a great resignation. I almost added to that statistic, but I want to explain why I didn’t go. I had a contract signed, a juicy pay rise in sight and only one month left of my notice period when I listened to a podcast where the guest said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Millenials leave jobs when things get difficult rather than seeing it as a challenge (opportunity).” That hit me quite hard.
85% of people leave within 6 months of a counteroffer, and 95% within 12 months
I am well aware of the logic that suggests; the reason you decided to leave in the first place will always be there if you choose to stay. I fought with this for a long time. So why did I decide to stay? The answer is partly guilt but mostly reframing my motivation.
After announcing to my teams and direct reports that I was leaving, I continued to have 1-2-1’s. Regardless of whether I was going, I wanted my team members to have a course set that helped them reach personal greatness and make the company stronger. One of the questions I like to ask my team members is, “what can I do to support you, and help you achieve what you want?”. The response was always the same; “dont go”. When probed, people would say they loved that I was interested in what they do and that I actively contribute to the decision-making process. I have thoughts on why I think this is the case, and I believe it’s because people trust people who have walked a mile in their shoes. I am an engineer in a leadership role, not a leader in engineering.
I am an engineer in a leadership role, not a leader in engineering.
So what about the reframing I mentioned? At the risk of sounding like a brat, I was becoming a little disheartened by the number of walls I was hitting up against. Topics included Agile vs Waterfall, Insource vs Outsource and Quality vs Delivery. I won’t go into those here, but I felt like I put a compelling argument forward with a big fat stamp “backed by science” (most of which were references to Accelerate by Dr Nicole Forsgren & co). Unfortunately, I was too focused on the what and not the why or how in hindsight.
When I strip what motivates me to the lowest common form, the answer is solving problems. In reality, by leaving, I was saying, “I cant solve this problem, I’m going to find an easier one”. However, once I reframed the problem from “doing the thing” to “convincing people to do the thing”, suddenly, my job became an exciting challenge I needed to conquer. This is why I stayed.
I do have some regrets. I had signed a contract to join a new company. I probably should have taken longer to decide, but a week was still a decent amount of thinking. Regrettably, they are now in the position where they thought they had hired someone but now need to start searching again - that’s unfortunate.