Career Advice

Making A Career “Decision”

Last Thursday night, American sports fans tuned into ESPN to hear LeBron James’ decision to go to work and play for the Miami Heat. That night, it didn’t look like anyone at the Greenwich, Conn. Boys and Girls Club was happy about the decision, including LeBron. It was almost painful to watch as he announced his “decision.” Of course, there was lots of celebrating the next day in Miami, but at the point of the decision, he did not look sure or confident. This is probably not too far off from what most of us feel when we make the decision to leave one company to join another. At the moment of truth, we all waiver and wonder if we are making the right decision or not.  There is no sure-fire way to know that we have made a decision we won’t regret, but these following three principles, if answered affirmatively, will help ensure that the best decision is being made.  And yes, be glad that you don’t have to make it on national TV.

  • Ensure you are doing what you want to do. The other day I was coaching an executive who was getting ready to change companies to take a job doing what he is currently doing. He had the hope that one day, further in the future, he will get an opportunity to shift careers and get to do what he wants to do. I asked him how happy he was going to be continuing doing what he doesn’t like. He said he wouldn’t be for long. I pushed back on him and encouraged him to rethink the decision to change companies because if you aren’t happy doing what you are doing, you just won’t be happy very long regardless of what the company is where you are employed.

  • Ensure you are doing it with who you want to do it with. You have to like the team, your boss, the CEO, and I would say, pretty much everyone you have come in contact with during the interview process. The company is only exposing you to the best of the best, so if you don’t like the people in the interview selection, then you probably aren’t going to like them, or others later. If you don’t like the people who you work with, it will be hard to be happy.
  • Ensure you are doing it where you want to do it. I know people who have moved for jobs, thinking that they will learn to like or love the town where they are relocating. But, let’s face it, if we don’t come home to friends, social activities, restaurants, shopping, neighborhoods, churches, etc. where we can feel comfortable and like, then we will stay in the office longer and before long, that will get old. Early in my career, I used to travel back almost every weekend to Cincinnati where my friends were.  I did this because I had changed jobs and was living in too small of a town in Connecticut and at every chance I could get, I bolted.  Over time, it did not bode well for my job performance or my engagement with the company. Fortunately, I was transferred in a year to someplace where I started to have more fun and enjoy where I was living.  Had I not, I doubt I would have lasted long in the company.

Few ever get fortunate enough to get the payday of LeBron James, but it doesn’t really matter in the criteria for a good job change decision. If any of the ones above are not right for LeBron, the Miami Heat won’t be the last place he works in the NBA.