I quit my job.
Quitting a job isn't big news these days, even with no new job to go to. The great resignation, or re-alignment, however you choose to frame it, is real, and many have made that choice. My former organization lost many employees over the last year; the small communications team I was part of lost four of us.
My decision was a long time coming; after I expressed dissatisfaction with a decision around the end of my first year, our department director said, "well, you can always go work somewhere else."
|Seen at Pacific Place, Seattle|
However, I was hired to work directly with the CEO, and we quickly developed a great working relationship. I adored him. Humble, caring, committed, I learned a lot from him. He said I made him a better leader. But, also at my one-year point, he announced his retirement. The transition would take six months as we searched for and onboarded a new CEO.
The only thing constant...
I joined the organization not long after an acquisition, and within the first two years, much of the leadership turned over, new systems were added, policies and practices were revised, there were several organizational restructures, and of course, there were new required trainings. What was once an independent organization was now one of many under a national umbrella. And that's just the beginning of the complexity.
Despite a director who couldn't manage and didn't lead, there were reasons to stay. I had delightful coworkers who were determined to make a difference, and internal clients I loved working with and duly respected. I led the transition communications for the new CEO. I advocated for and sought to embed equity and inclusion into daily work. I served as communications advisor to a dedicated board of directors and elevated their efforts. And then... a pandemic.
I have to say... there's nothing quite like working in healthcare during a pandemic. From the initial 'watch' days of January and February, to the all-out insanity starting in March 2020, it was a work experience to be remembered. Then add the all-out social injustice exploding that summer—for a communicator who works with equity and diversity leadership, it doesn't get any more real.
When you know it's time to go
By summer 2021, I was depleted. Trying to make a difference in an organization where burnout and dissatisfaction are rampant was stifling, since my "why" behind the work I do is to make work, and ultimately life, better for people. Instead, I was a "content workhorse" (according to that director), with an audience stretched too thin to care. As the last woman standing in my department, I had a conversation with the staff social worker. He reminded me I still have my experience, my knowledge, and my values.
It was time to leap, but I wasn't ready. I had work to see through, and emotionally, I was spent and struggled to envision anything else. At the beginning of 2022, however, I regrouped, then wrapped up planning for my DE&I, Women in Medicine, and HR clients, developed the content strategy for an e-magazine, wrote a story about a beloved, retiring leader, and finally gave my month's notice in late January.
Now that I've been away for a couple of months, I can see what I accomplished and can envision a new future. I know my value; I know my worth. I know I make a difference.
I am re-energizing and filling my proverbial cup, and I'm eager to explore whatever might be next. If anyone wants me to explain a gap in my resume, I have a few words for them.
An aside: Resume gaps should never have been a thing as we learn and grow in more ways than professional settings and formal education; I'm thrilled we're (finally) collectively learning that rest is essential to innovation and productivity.
And... I'm excited about the changes I see. I follow "future of work" leaders, blogs, and podcasts. Because I watched healthcare change almost overnight—quite literally—I know change is possible, even in an industry that's historically slow to change.
Technology, the millennial mindset, and a pandemic finally transcended some of corporate's most egregious sacred cows. Command-and-control management is on its last proverbial legs—and it couldn't happen soon enough. Leaders must be authentic, empathetic, self-aware, and more transparent. Employee experience, something I've screamed from rooftops about in customer experience conversations, is taking center stage, beyond free snacks and ping pong tables. A business is only as good as those who work there. Care for staff in ways that matter and watch your business thrive. Your customers are paying attention.
These changes make my heart sing. I long believed that so much of corporate culture was unhealthy for people and planet, and now, I believe it has the potential to be a force for good in the world. And the work I do contributes to that.
My next right place will value what I offer, and with each job interview that holds promise, I find myself saying, "this or something better." I know it's out there.