the reluctant tester

Perpetual learner of the craft of Software Testing,Servant Leadership and creating better Teams

Career decision making – Choosing a pizza that comes with slices missing

Stick around and fight or quit ? Why is it worth continuing ?

These are quintessential questions, applicable both to professional and personal context

How do you decide you next career step ? What decision making model do you apply ?

Backstory for this post

Having been in independent Testing/QA contracting for ~ 5 years now , what I have found as difficult as finding new clients , is ascertaining –

  • What kind of work should I target next ? ( should I be driven by the next title or should I be purely mission driven?)
  • If there are multiple leads, who and what(kind of work) should I say No to and why ?

Initially, I tried computing these decisions through the aid of a venn-diagram (example below),

prioritising my decision variables( The Role vs The Benefits vs The Environment) and then comparing the ratings for available opportunities, to take a call in favour of the one that rated highest.

An example of a decision making framework that I have followed to take decisions that resulted in tangible work for me

What is wrong with such a framework

From my experience so far –

  1. I Found it useful to take “should I go into this gig?” decisions
  2. But not so good for “staying in a gig” decisions

“Going into” vs “Leaving” are different modes of thinking, because –

  • Material needs change over time ,as an individual’s family and financial context changes
  • How your perceive your peers/your organisation can change drastically and especially due to events beyond one’s control – e.g. unprofessional behaviour at work that does not align with your values, black swan events like a global pandemic, discovering that working in an org was not what you had hoped for
  • One’s Mission changes (e.g. Through organisational happenstance I got exposed to agile Project/Delivery Management and decided that this something that I would really like to grow as a service offering)
  • Lastly, “leaving” is much more emotionally challenging, it has negative connotations attached to it, stress is a factor in decision making as one is grappling with emotions of guilt and professional shame.

Which has led me to believe that, if, after taking up a role, my context changes or parts of my mission change, then why shouldn’t the framework reflect that changed context/mission ?

or maybe I need a new framework to compute the “leaving/sticking” decisions ?

So, recently I have started reducing the above venn diagram framework, and revisiting how I think about quitting or continuing.

A reductionist view (when it comes to decisions about leaving/continuing )

The way I re-frame it ( in a reductionist sense) is …

Of a 3 slice pizza(The Role,The Benefits and The Environment) that you were promised with the Pizza shop’s best intentions, you only got delivered one slice out of three,

what would you do ?

take that slice(and work towards finding the missing two)

or leave that pizza (for another pizza shop) because you feel mistreated & it is the right thing to do?

My thought process to build this reduced framework is…

  1. “Life is messy and unpredictable” . It is not always akin to compartmentalised areas of a venn diagram but is rather edgy/pointy/drooling with cheese messy triangles of a pizza
  2. Let’s face it, in corporate culture, you will be lucky to consistently get one slice of out of the three.(Call me a Tech culture nihilist, but I feel Success Theatre is rampant in our industry and it is terribly hard to predict what working internally feels like unless you actually work somewhere)
  3. So, then, what is that slice of pizza that makes it worthy to stick around in your current role ?
  4. And, does that slice align with that matters most to you in your current career and personal context ?

If the answer to #4 above is a yes then continue, otherwise quit *

(*and if you stutter in your answer, then there is potentially an unconscious bias at play here e.g. you do not know what matters to your at this juncture in your career or your career mission is fuzzy)

To summarise –

  • I am not suggesting or wanting to shun an objective framework for career decision making, in fact I will continue to use my venn diagram model and refine it.
  • What I am suggesting is that you need two models of thinking… i.e. a “going into a job ” framework(smooth overlapping venn diagrams) and a “why continue in a job?” framework (to process a messy/unpredictable missing slices pizza situation)

Dear reader, how do you make career fight or flight decisions ?

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About Me

I’m Sunjeet Khokhar

An experienced People Leader,Practice Lead  and Test Manager .

I am driven by the success of people around me, am a keen student of organisational behaviour and firmly believe that we can be better craftspeople by being better humans first.

CoNNECT with Me

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