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In this weekly series, Todd Dewett, PhD, shares the tips respected and motivated managers use to improve rapport, navigate tricky situations, build better relationships, and drive the business forward. Each week, we'll release two tips ranging from avoiding the dreaded micromanagement to managing a multigenerational workforce, cultivating better listening skills, and developing an understanding of your organization's politics. Check back every Wednesday for more Management Tips.
This course qualifies for 5.25 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.
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I think the idea of quitting is a little misunderstood. It's considered almost universally negative. Nobody wants to be called a quitter. While it's true that sometimes you need to dig down deep and find new resolve to keep moving forward, it's also true that sometimes stopping one professional activity in order to refocus on others is precisely the smart thing to do. You have to know the difference between quitting and refocusing. Quitting might be an act of laziness, or a sign of selfishness. But sometimes it's brilliant.
Think of it this way. When people play the stock market, which do they care more about? The performance of one particular stock, or the performance of their overall portfolio? It's the overall portfolio. Sometimes they have to remove some stocks from the portfolio while adding others. Your career is exactly the same. Your portfolio of goals and projects will change over time. While pursuing your goals things happen you never planned or imagined. Unexpected work loads pop up, projects require more time and resources than you expected, your interests changed, and so on.
That's life and that's normal. You can justifiably cease an activity if it starts to look like a failure, or if it no longer fits well with your portfolio of activities. If you make that decision, be sure to do these three things. First, own the decision. Talk about it with others, learn from it, even laugh about it. Don't try to act like it never happened. The more you own it, the more you'll encourage others to do the same. The more you own it, the faster you'll get over unproductive thoughts about why things didn't work out.
And move on to more productive thoughts about what you learned, and what you can do differently moving forward. Next, thank everyone who is involved. Assume you are not the only person involved in the effort. Thank people for their contributions. They'll think more of you, not less, when they receive your gratitude and see that you're dealing with this change of events productively. That's what will make them continue to believe in you and wish to work with you in the future. Finally, decide whether you need a new goal or project to fill the space that you just created. If you have any doubt at all, I want you to be careful and err on the side of a slightly narrower focus, a smaller portfolio.
Reallocate the time you just saved to higher potential ongoing projects. As it turns out, quitting is actually a strategic tool. When used strategically it's really about refocusing. And if you follow the advice we just discussed the experience isn't negative. In fact, it can be uplifting, a catalyst for renewed motivation.
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