This question seems to be top of mind for so many individuals right now. The pandemic has given pause to many to reflect on what is truly important to them, and where work fits into this. I think there is an opportunity for exploration between these two options which is often overlooked.

There seems to be a belief that, because I was hired to fill a certain position, I am constrained by that role. And, so, if I want something different, the only way I’ll be able to have it is to start fresh at another company. This may, ultimately, be true, but might it be worth it to test that assumption before walking away?

I’ll offer an example from my own career. At one point in my career, I’d been working in human resources for quite some time. I’d begun to discover that the aspect of my role that I truly enjoyed was helping employees to step into their potential — to achieve more than they may have believed possible. Unfortunately, at that time, that was a small portion of my responsibilities. I was really conflicted because I truly loved the organization, but I didn’t see a way to make the job more compatible with my strengths and passions — and I didn’t see another role in the organization that was a closer fit. So, I began looking at other opportunities.

During one of my one-on-one’s with my boss, he asked me what I saw as my next role. I took the opening to share with him what I’d been noodling. He was taken off-guard and said so. He’d been expecting me to share my desire to be promoted to the next logical role and, in fact, he’d been prepared to offer me that position. We had a great conversation about why that wouldn’t have been the right move for me. He asked me to give him some time to think about if and how he might be able to meet my needs.

True to his word, he came back shortly thereafter, and we hashed out a plan that would have me shifting other parts of my work to other individuals over course of the next year. This was a win-win. I got to spend more of my time doing what I loved with a company that I treasured. And, the company got the best of me, I was even more committed to my work and the company. Beyond that, they benefitted from the development work I did with the employees.

If you’re trying to figure out whether you should stay or go because your role no longer fulfills you but you’ve got an affinity for the organization, I’d encourage you to consider engaging your current employer in a conversation about what’s possible. How might you go about this? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Become clear about the work you want to be doing. If this is an existing role, you might meet with the person doing the work to get a sense of the day-to-day work of this position.

  2. Determine what the benefit to the organization would be. It can be beneficial, particularly when this isn’t an existing role within the organization, to build the business case for the role.

  3. Craft the transition plan. Help your manager to think through how to ensure that your current work won’t suffer as you shift your focus.

If you like where you work, isn’t it worth investigating what might be possible before you assume that you have to leave to recraft your role? Who knows, you may just find yourself reinvigorated and reengaged as you do more of what you love for an organization that you’ve built an attachment to.