Ask Abbie: To quit, or not to quit

Published 1:29 pm Saturday, September 7, 2013

by Abbie Long

Question: I work at a local restaurant. My manager never orders enough product from week to week, so we always have to tell our customers they can’t have what they want. Another thing he does is give his favorite employees better schedules and often refuses the others the days they want off. My manager’s boss is also well-aware of the situation, but does nothing about it. It’s getting harder for me to work my best for someone who isn’t working his and who I know will never be held accountable for not doing his job. I make decent money and worry if I change jobs I won’t make as much. Should I quit and look for another job or should I just deal with it?

Answer: The Principle of Limiting Factors says that the maximum obtainable rate of photosynthesis is limited by whichever basic resource of plant growth is in least supply. In high latitudes, energy is in least supply, and in low latitudes, moisture is limited. The rate of plant growth and the rate of your career growth are similar. In order to reach full growth potential, both must occur at a location where limiting factors are minimized. For the plant, this site is the equator. For you, the site has not been determined but will soon be discovered with the help of the following analysis. Let’s embark on the journey.

It is neither your manager nor his boss who is limiting your career growth potential but rather the culture, shared values and behaviors that are present within your work environment, that is. Managers, however, are direct reflections of the company’s culture for which they are hired to work. In growth limiting cultures such as your current place of employment, management retreats from excellence, produces average or below results, and provides discouraging leadership. In growth inspiring business cultures, management strives for excellence, produces above average results, and provides inspiring leadership. Now that you can see clearly what is happening around you, it is time to look at what is happening inside of you.

Your question appears to be written by a person who understands that average is growing in acceptance, but who does not want to become part of the trend. To you, life should be lived in excellence not in compromise. Unfortunately your type of thinking is becoming an endangered species and being replaced by a new quickly-spreading species named mediocrity.

Due to this trend, workers of excellence, like yourself, often have to accept less than optimal jobs not because they think the position is a good fit for their skill set or aspirations but because there are bills to pay. As a result, spirits of excellence often fall victim to disenchantment and bitterness.

To ensure this tragedy doesn’t happen to you, consider a job change. Although the best time to find a new job is while you already have one, you should never start looking until you are ready. If you have any feelings of doubt or know for certain the time to begin is not right, don’t start your search. Change the expectations you have of your current employer’s culture and of those who work within it. Accept the fact your high level of performance will be under-appreciated and above the performance level of your management. Expect to experience feelings of frustration and disappointment. Reject them immediately.

If you already know it’s time to look for another job or if you ever begin to succumb to your current environment’s destructive forces, start your search for new employment immediately. However, do not burn any bridges with your current place of employment or with those who work there. Since the number of companies that accept mediocrity is growing, your options for suitable employment will be limited. Anticipate the job search process to take time and patience. Prepare yourself to accept short-term periods of discomfort in exchange for long-term profitable gains during the acclimation phase associated with re-planting yourself in the environment of a new corporate culture.

Life itself brings with it a wide array of growth limiting factors. Do not let your choices add to the uncontrollable mix. It is time to either replant your root-bound career in more nutrient rich soil or have a load of fertilizer delivered to you.