Episode 1: When Work Has Stopped Loving You Back.

(In this short blog series we will follow Lisa, a Financial Services executive who finds herself at a crucial moment in her career.  Lisa is a composite character based on many women in leadership I have worked with over the years.)

Lisa is an ambitious, intelligent, and passionate leader who has poured herself into her career in Financial Services, culminating in her VP appointment a few years ago.  

Since she could remember, she was considered high-potential.  She prided herself in consistently delivering results and had built strong relationships with her peers and direct reports.  Younger employees came to her regularly for advice and mentorship, and she derived great fulfillment from those relationships.

An Organization That’s Changing…for the Worse?

Lately, the earth seems to have shifted beneath Lisa’s feet.  Like many organizations, digital transformation efforts are raising new questions about how best to create value for customers in a world of online self-service.  Around her, ideas are taking root that seem to defy common sense, or worse, ethical standards. This year’s KPOs feel unachievable at best, and senseless at worst.  Increasingly, the strategic direction of the company is not sitting well with Lisa.  

An Unsupportive Manager

In addition, Lisa had a new manager, Tonya.  At first, Tonya gave Lisa all indications that she was happy with her performance. She has repeatedly expressed that her appointment isn’t a signal of significant changes to come.  But a slow drip of questions and comments seemed to reveal a different perspective-that Tonya is here to pull the company in a different direction—one that Lisa isn’t sure she agrees with and one which would not play to Lisa’s skills or values.

Always a resilient problem-solver, Lisa may have met her match this time.  Many small moments have created this unappealing mosaic. It’s so hard to pinpoint what would actually make things better.  And the picture this mosaic is forming is not pretty. It seems to lead to one big, heavy question: 

Should I stay or should I go?   

What next?  It feels to Lisa that she has dedicated her life to this place.  She never really minded the long hours before.  But now it felt like no matter how many hours she put in, it won’t get better.  Because leadership was pulling the team in multiple directions—none of which made a lot of sense or aligned with how Lisa thought the company should be moving forward.

For all her career, Lisa has loved her work.  She has approached it with a sense of purpose and passion. And she has always been rewarded with enough appreciation, respect, and upward mobility to keep her going through the tough times.

But now? 

It feels like work has stopped loving her back.  

In the upcoming weeks, we will be following Lisa’s story and rooting for her success. Subscribe here so you don’t miss an episode! 

Have you found yourself in Lisa’s position, lately? 

Five signs work has stopped loving you back

1)    Your organization seems to be moving in a direction that does not align with your values.  

2)    Your thoughts about moving on are stopped short by emotional reminders of the wonderful people you have hired and mentored over the years—not to mention the folks you hired just a few days ago.  The idea of leaving those people in a lurch, of walking away from the legacy of your work hurts, maybe even makes you angry.

3)    You feel like a contortionist—constantly doing damage control or defending your work.  It never seems to satisfy senior leadership and it is becoming exhausting.

4)    Your confidence is shaken as your ideas are ignored or picked apart.

5)    You are learning not to care so much. And yet you are left feeling sad, rather than at peace.

You have so much more to give and learn.  So much more growth ahead of you.  It’s time to turn this rough patch in your career into your defining moment.  

And you can take action! Book your “Should I stay or should I go” career strategy session.  This free, 50-minute private session will shed new light on your most troubling and recurring question: “Should I stay, or should I go?”

Wendy Hultmark, CPC, ACC, is a coach who helps women in leadership own their stories and write the next chapter. Learn more at www.wendyhultmark.com.