I recently spoke with a friend who is returning to a previous employer. While he is incredibly excited about the opportunity, the reaction he is receiving from friends and family is beginning to make him doubt his decision. So, I asked him a few questions to help him explore what was underneath those doubts.

  1. Why did you leave the organization? He loved it there. The place felt like home. He talked about it being one of the hardest decisions he’d had to make in his career. In fact, he’d stayed in touch with many of his co-workers. However, he wanted to expand his knowledge base and there really wasn’t the ability to do it in the structure that existed at the time. So, he wasn’t leaving to “get away” from the company. He was leaving in order to continue growing and learning.

  2. What’s changed that makes this move make sense for you? The position they offered him leverages the skills he’s learned since leaving the company. He’ll have greater responsibility, autonomy, and impact. And, he already knows that the culture and camaraderie of the company are a fit for him. In other words, the role in the organization will not only draw on the tools he’s acquired but will also challenge him to keep on learning.

  3. How are you interpreting the reaction you’re receiving? People just don’t go back to companies they have already worked for. As we reviewed some of the conversations he’d had, we found a common theme. Most of the time, the individual was sharing their experiences of having left companies to “get away” (from a boss, co-workers, a culture that didn’t work for them). He could appreciate that experience and could even relate to it from prior experiences he’d had. However, that wasn’t the case for him when it came to this organization. He was able to recognize the disparity between their reasons for leaving (and not wanting to go back) and his current situation.

This quick conversation helped him to separate others’ well-meaning advice from his own sense of knowing. He wasn’t ignoring what others had to say, nor was he simply taking it at face value. He was interpreting their perspectives through his own set of experiences. In doing so, he is able to see that their experiences are true for them, while not true for him in this situation. As he articulates for himself the circumstances that led to this decision, he becomes more confident in his choice.

I’m excited to watch how going back to his prior organization propels him forward in his career!