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Monday, September 01, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I'm in HR and currently have a job where I was responsible for creating a training program. I was the first person to do this for the company and everyone thinks I'm doing a fantastic job. Actually, I'm in 2nd gear. I came from a completely different industry and was in a generalist/manager position. In this capacity I worked like a dog and was generally miserable. But I felt I was doing a good job - I implemented some clear improvements, and saw real change happen. Here, I feel like I'm not doing that great of a job, I have too much free time, very little oversight and the people who need to attend training are not coming anyway.

I have an opportunity to apply for a competing organization, where the director seems more involved. I feel very loyal to my current boss, but need more oversight, guidance and structure than I am getting. My current organization would probably not be able to find a replacement given the location. The wild card in this is that I am currently trying to conceive. At which point, I'm not sure if I would want to stay home for awhile (12-18 months), come back in a part-time situation or come back to FT after 3 months. Since I've become so spoiled and lazy, what if I can no longer perform to higher expectations? I have shared with the potential director that starting a family is on the horizon, and this seems to be understood. I don't, however, think it's ethical to hop jobs and then either a) leave them in a lurch or b) feel like I cannot stay home if I want to because I changed jobs so recently (which also brings up FMLA).

Okey-dokey, let's slow down. First of all you have an "opportunity to apply" for a new job. No telling if you'll get it. This worrying may all be moot anyway. Second, you are "trying to conceive." Congratulations! May you be rapidly successful. But, you may not be. It make take a considerable amount of time to achieve pregnancy.

Now, from a practical advice standpoint, if you change jobs and get pregnant in less than 3 months you won't be eligible for FMLA. (Not that FMLA is the be-all-end-all of maternity leave, but it is what it is.) You have to have worked for a place for a year, and they must have at least 50 employees in order to even be required to grant you the 12 weeks leave. They may have a different maternity policy altogether.

Another thing to think about is that if you do get pregnant, you may have one heck of a pregnancy. Sure, you may be lucky to simply have an expanding waistline and a few delicate little kicks starting up around 20 weeks, or you may get the morning/afternoon/evening sickness that will send you to the emergency room to be rehydrated. You just don't know. So, would that be a good time to be in a brand new job? Hmmm, probably not.

If we pretend there was no TTC going on (and please, in casual conversation with co-workers, this is never something to bring up. It tells us way too much about what you are doing with your weekends.) what would I say? I'll tell you. With bullet points because it seems like a bullet point kind of an answer.

  • Apply for the new job. No harm in interviewing and finding out about the company.

  • You say you are not challenged at your training job, yet people aren't coming to their scheduled training classes. Well then, there's a challenge for you to dig into. Figure out how to get people to want to come to training. It can be done!

  • Don't worry that your current company won't be able to replace you. I know, it's flattering to think "the whole world will fall apart if I leave!" but reality is, you are expendable. Sorry, but you are. They will find someone new or they will realize the function isn't needed.

  • If you think you might possibly, in some strange universe, want to stay home after giving birth (longer than maternity leave, that is), or want a flexible schedule (from home, part time, longer leave) and your current boss would be amenable to that, I wouldn't leave. Finding that flexibility is hard and worth some cost. (For the record, I took a 16 week maternity leave--starting back on Thursday, sob!--and will be working from home now. Do I love my boss? Yes, she's fabulous and flexible. Is my job itself ideal? No. I'd rather, actually, be doing training, but I'm not giving up the fabulous deal I have now.)

  • You can perform to a higher expectation. Just because your current job is easy, it doesn't mean your brain cells have stopped functioning. Don't worry about that.

    Chris Morgan said...

    When I first moved into my training role I was used to working as a management consultant - 15 hour days, deadlines etc. It was quite a change to find that I had much more control of my time and it took about 1 year to really adjust.

    I have been able to focus on the areas that are of most interest to me (talent management and training delivery) which is a real luxury. As a result I have a job where I do the things I like and have reasonable control over my time.

    It sounds like you have a similar opportunity if you want to take it?


    Anonymous said...

    A couple of questions came to my mind.

    Have your approached your current boss asking for more work? Is he/she aware of your down time? Do your colleagues need help?

    Second, if I am a hiring manager and I have someone approach me with this: I am interested in the job, but will take some time off hopefully sooner rather than later, don't know how much time I will want to take, don't know if I will come back and I may only want part time....I may give your candidacy a second thought. Not because of your hope to be a parent, which is terrific; rather I would question your interest and commitment to the job. It's a significant investment to hire someone into a position and I want someone who is equally invested.

    If your current position is such that it would allow you that flexibility you seek as a parent, it may worth it to stay put.

    Rachel - former HR blogger said...

    Apply for the job but don't mention that you're trying to get pregnant.

    Should you get an offer then you need to decide where your priorities are. It's obvious that your current job would be a better fit during and after your pregnancy. However, the other job offers you career advancement. It's not a choice between family as the second career could make you happier long term thus enabling a healthier family dynamic. You just need to decide what is more important in the now, should it come to that.

    Anonymous said...

    Stay put.

    You don't really know what you want to do before you have your first baby. What is now an under-challenging full time job could be a great part-time job later. Great part-time jobs are rare, and the longer you have been with an employer, the more likely they are (assuming they like you) to be accommodating with a flexible schedule.

    Anonymous said...

    Milk the system, everyone else does it.

    Anonymous said...

    "...the people who need to attend training are not coming anyway..."

    I have a couple of tangential comments, none of them related to changing jobs. I know a few things about what people like to call "training."

    (To save time, stop reading this comment and get a copy of Robert Mager's What Every Manager Should Know about Training. It will take you less than three hours to read, and at the end you will know more than 80% of people inside the training field, and virtually everyone outside that field.)

    "Training" means (or should mean) helping people acquire the skill and knowledge they need to produce desired results on the job. If people can already produce those results -- even if they only do so when the boss is standing over them -- then "training" in the sense of courses won't do a thing except annoy them. Or, possibly, give them a break from the regular job.

    Training should not be an outside event like a golf tournament for the sales staff. The training function in an organization should not be the Little Corporate Schoolhouse with a schedule of classes, records out the wazoo, and no ability to show whether anyone in the history of the corporate ever improved his performance as a result of "attending."

    What matters is not training courses but an integrated approach for identifying worthwhile performance and figuring out the barriers to that performance -- which often include poor standards, bad job design, lack of feedback, organizational silos, misplaced priorities, and disconnects between the organization and its customers.

    None of those will be solved by better attendance at training courses.