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Home | Got a Minute | Bad bosses | No. 152 – After six years, I still love my job. But people keep telling me it’s time to move on

No. 152 – After six years, I still love my job. But people keep telling me it’s time to move on

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24 April 2024

Each week, Dr Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a Minute?” This week: a job that’s too good to leave, a job change causing health issues and nepotism in the workplace.

I have been in my role for six years and love it. It’s interesting, the people are great and I earn an excellent salary. However, I have been warned by mentors that I have stuck around too long. I would like to progress, but I work in the public sector, so a promotion isn’t really possible – I would need to apply for a role in another area. I have been headhunted for two senior external roles, but I turned them both down as I was worried about making a terrible mistake. But now I worry I am hindering my career. Do I listen to my gut or my mentors?

What a great problem to have! You are in one job you love, and are being offered other great opportunities while you decide. It sounds like your anxiety about making the wrong decision is the real issue. I am assuming from your letter that if others hadn’t said anything, and if you hadn’t been offered other roles, you would be happy doing what you are doing for the foreseeable future. And let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with that at all.

The question for you is whether you may look back in time and wonder about what might have been. Your mentors will have your best interests at the forefront, but may be more overtly ambitious than you. Hear their feedback and then weigh it up against what feels right to you. And if you are starting to question whether your current role is for you, pursue other opportunities. When you can find the courage to make the change, you never know the exciting places the next opportunity might take you.

I’m in my sixties and have several chronic illnesses. I am in a customer service role in a call centre and work from home. Customers call with billing issues, but now we are being pressured to make multiple sales a day as well. This all takes time, but we are being told to be much quicker on calls. This pressure is making my illnesses worse. I have asked to be moved out of this role into another, which is more administrative, but management has refused. Any suggestions about how I could approach this with a higher manager?

I think you are best to speak to your healthcare professionals in the first instance to get a clear sense of how your health has deteriorated since your role has changed. I would then arrange to speak with HR or a more senior manager and explain the impact this new way of working is having on your health. If there is a role you think would be more appropriate, perhaps you can suggest it to them to show you are proactive about wanting to find a way to remain with the company. I would reassure them this is simply a matter of needing to prioritise your health while finding the best fit for the value you already add.

I work for the public transport department of a state government. I’m intelligent, qualified and enthusiastic to move to a higher position. However, it seems management only hire their friends or former colleagues for these desirable roles. Nepotism is rife, and it is openly talked and laughed about. Is there anything I can do about this?

If this is happening within your department, there would most certainly be other sections of the public service which would not want this culture to be the case. It is always a bad look for any public service when stories appear in the media of “jobs for the boys” or similar. Depending on how far you want to take your concerns, there is most likely an internal agency within your public service where you can raise these kinds of issues.

If you would rather not take it to that level, I would speak directly with your HR team about your concerns. If you apply for a promotion and do not get it, ask for specific feedback as to why, so you can find out what you need to do next time. Make sure you make it clear a promotion is important to you and ask for the support you need to make sure you are in strong consideration.

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