Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quitting Isn't a Way to Effect Organizational Change

Today I heard someone discussing why they were leaving a company, and that discussion involved them saying something like, "This job has been a bit crazy, and hopefully this will be a bit of a wake-up call for the company that something needs to change."


If you're unhappy with your job and you have a better position available somewhere else, then by all means, you owe it to yourself to switch.

But don't kid yourself that your leaving will make the organization realize they need to fix what was wrong with your position, department, or team.

As someone who has been working long enough to watch more than one person quit under circumstances like these, I can say that I have never seen the organization "fix what's broken" due to a single person leaving.

Maybe—just maybe—if an entire department or team left, the organization would experience enough pain to realize that something must have been very, very wrong and try to fix it. I think I may have seen this happen once.

But when a single person on a team quits, it just leaves a hole that the rest of the team scrambles to cover. They are so busy doing so, that the last thing they have time for is organizational change. And after a while, the organization sees that the person who quit really could be done without, and that no change is needed after all.

Recently, over on codesqueeze, I read Companies Aren’t Progressive (But People Are…). I don't agree with everything in the article, but at least it has a point—if you want change to happen, it's up to you to try to bring it about.

Once you're blue in the face from trying, and sick to death of it, feel free to quit with a clear conscience and go work someplace where people (might) better appreciate your efforts. As I said, if you have the opportunity to do so, you owe it to yourself to take it.

But don't delude yourself that your departure will be the tipping point that makes your organization wake up to how badly it needs change.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if it's as much the person kidding themselves, as it is a last ditch effort at feeling valued. It is a very common symptom of an organization that does a poor job of making their team members feel valued.

    A company that doesn't make great people feel valued will never be able to attract someone who's willing to become blue in the face trying to change.

    So, it's hopeless... :)