✍🏽 How, as HR, do you know when it’s the right time to quit?

I’m generally frustrated with my organization and the leadership, but I can’t figure out if I can work through the frustration to solve organizational problems, or if it’s just time to leave. Looking for guidance on how others have navigated this situation in the past.

📣  Jesse Fields, Talent Development and DEI Leader:

*cue my best game show announcer voice*

🎤 Alright y’all… let’s play…. IS IT TIME FOR A BREAK UP?

In this game, we provide a relationship scenario and ask contestants if it’s time for this couple to BREAK UP!

“I see so much potential! They say all the right things, but their actions aren’t matching up. Maybe with more time, they’ll come around?”

“I’m not having any fun and they don’t make me feel very good about myself. I feel like I’m on an island all alone. But maybe I can stick it out and things will get better?”

“This is comfortable and familiar, and I guess I feel pressured to stay. Maybe the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

“I don’t know what they’ll do without me. I carry this relationship.”

SPOILER ALERT — these are all actually worker and workplace relationships!

In all seriousness, the moment my career — no, my LIFE — turned around was when I started thinking about my relationship to my work as if it was a relationship with a person. If I was ever in X situation with a romantic interest, would my friends be telling me I’m worth so much more and to GTFO?

My gut tells me, you know you’re worth more than this. Good luck, you got this. 

📣 Katie Gerson, Human Resources Manager: 

I find that all too often for myself I hit the point a little too late, there were little flags that went up sooner, boundaries that were pushed past that I ignored or justified. As Jessie highlighted, we can so easily dismiss the signs and justify the relationship, but then suddenly something is too big or there is a boundary that is pushed too far that makes you realize this just isn’t right.

Everyone is different, but I like to say to employees/everyone to know your boundaries, values, standards, etc. that you will not compromise on. Hold them tight. Know which ones you are unwilling to let even a toe cross and the moment anyone pushes that line, that’s when you know it’s time to start looking for a new position.

A wise women *cough my mother* recently asked me as we discussed my current situation three questions and said, if you answer yes to all three, then you know you stayed true to you and you can sleep at night, it’s time to move on. That opened my eyes to how I will always gauge my decisions.


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If this happened at any other company, would you have done the same thing?

Would you have done this (provided the same support/guidance/etc.) for any other employee?

Do you stand by your decision?

At the end of the day, regardless of the position individuals hold in any company, if they are generally frustrated with an organization or leadership there is a cloud over them and that makes it a lot harder to clearly see the next time something happens.

Good luck, just remember you are not alone! You have a community in the Safe Space!

✍🏽 I recently put my brave face on and let my boss and HR manager know that I’m seeing patterns that lead to an environment that isn’t psychologically safe to me. What do I do after they told me to “get over the past and move on”? Just leave?

Approx. 30 staff, grant-funded (local + federal), Human Service field. I’ve been there 8 years and there has been a decline in rapport, ownership, and consistency for about 3 years now.

📣  Stephanie Lemek, Founder & CEO: 

First, I want to acknowledge that this scenario is very challenging and can be very emotionally draining. Having a culture and organization you belong to and care about changing into something that no longer aligns with your values is incredibly difficult. Give yourself space to honor that this is challenging.

In terms of what to do next, get honest with yourself about if there are any avenues to help move culture change forward- perhaps with another trusted leader or feedback on the culture and environment that is focused on results or metrics (versus your experience). Then, assess whether you are willing to get involved in that work if it is possible.

Any version of ‘get over it’ sounds like an organization that is not especially psychologically safe for anyone. While every request or change isn’t possible- it is possible to respond with empathy and look for a productive path forward for everyone. The fact that this isn’t happening is a red flag to me.

I know the prospect of looking for a new role can be daunting, but it may be the best thing to avoid additional harm to you. Including the potential for you to experience something called Institutional betrayal.

As you look for a new role if that is your next step, take time to write down what you need for an organization to be psychologically safe for you- and prioritize that in the recruiting process.

📣 Anonymous: 

[tw: mention of self-harm]


I recently escaped a mirror maze of gaslighting and negging. The CEO asked me if I was trying to take advantage of him. It was a situation so challenging that I questioned my career path in HR specifically and my ability to exist as a remote professional generally. I seriously looked into leasing a Tesla and driving for Uber.

It’s difficult to admit — I haven’t told anyone this — there was a minute I considered self-harm to trigger FMLA. That scary moment didn’t last long, I cling to the credo: Living Well is the Best Revenge.

That one’s always true and I keep it at the ready. But for that dark period, I latched onto another mantra: “I will demonstrate the grace I have yet to be afforded.” That was one of several methods of compartmentalization. I cried on bike rides to the office. I couldn’t unwind on weekends. I drank recklessly. I am still, some 3 months later, unpacking the trauma responses.

Now I’m in a healthy work environment where my boss shows up to meetings, on time no less, and everyone says “thank you.” The bar is low but I am intensely grateful. I lean into my resources: camaraderie, therapy, meditation, Lexapro, exercise, this Safe Space community.

You’re not alone, and you deserve better. Exits lead to light. Take care.

Many more People Leaders had thoughts and advice on these questions…

Find out what they had to say in the private Safe Space forum.

Hebba Youssef
Hebba Youssef

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