We’ve all heard the saying, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” I used to buy into this theory, but something changed my mind. I learned quitting isn’t always a bad thing—and there is a healthy way to do it.
The art of quitting
It all started when our President, Terry Ray, suggested I read the book Mastering the Art of Quitting by Peg Streep and Alan Bernstein (Da Capo Lifelong Books 2013). To this day, this book inspires my beliefs and helps drive my approach to taking action or not taking action in and out of the office.
Sadly, far too many employees don’t know how or when to quit and they become victims of their own displeasure. This not only results in employee unhappiness; it also leads to presenteeism. As Marti explained in a recent blog, presenteeism is when employees continue to come to work while they're suffering from illness or dealing with financial or emotional issues. They might be physically present, but they’re on auto-pilot—oftentimes producing sub-par work.
Employers share some of the blame, too. We hang on to employees too long because we feel bad or like them personally; or worse… we know it means more work for us if we let them go. In reality, we are already doing extra work to make up for that less-than-productive employee. We will be more efficient sooner if we stop putting off separating from someone we know isn’t working out. If no one is winning—the employee isn’t fulfilling their purpose and the employer is losing quality production – it’s time to let the employee go.
The relationship between employer and employee is not that different from any relationship in our personal lives. Friends, spouses, partners… if neither one is happy or wants to be in the relationship, then why are you still in it?
Quit while you’re ahead
Everyone wins when an employee is passionate about their career and actually cares about what they do.
Personally, I’m not a quitter. At least I try not to be. In the worst of times I’ve told myself “every challenge is an opportunity.” But reading this book provided a new perspective… “Quitting permits growth and learning, as well as the ability to frame new goals. Without the ability to give up, most people will end up in a discouraging loop. The most satisfied people know when it’s time to stop persisting and start quitting.”
Quitting isn’t always bad. If you complete something just to check the box, it’s not meaningful. There is a huge difference between completing something and achieving something. People who stick with jobs they aren’t passionate about because of complacency, guilt, or fear of the unknown are only doing themselves (and their company) a huge disservice.
Just quit it!
It’s never too late to quit for the right reason. I’ve been involved in several projects that started out as a great idea—but as we discussed it more, it became clear there wasn’t a true business need. It’s easy to get attached to projects and feel like you need to check the box of completion. This is where I’ve had to stop myself and say, “It’s not worth it. Sure, we’ll complete it, but will we actually achieve something?”
--Dulce Bozeman, EVP
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