When a relationship goes sour, checking out is all too easy. It happens. You have tried all you can but by the end, you just want out. This is interesting for work relationships because unlike a bad friend or bf, you cannot just walk away. You work for a living but never the less we are over it and not smartly so in most cases. Before you have started a job search, interviewed or been offered anything, you have started to visualize telling your boss to “miss you”, packing your stuff and getting more money someplace else. It becomes almost impossible to care about the work you are currently doing.
If this were only mental it would not be a problem but it is almost never just mental… even when you think it is. It starts to show up in everything you do. Even if we cannot admit we have done it, you have seen a co-worker do it. You know because she is suddenly late all the time, negative about everything, her work gets sloppy and then the whispers about them from other co-workers start to happen. It’s a bad look – even if you don’t care about the job anymore.
To be honest, I have felt this shift in myself, which is why this post exists. But, a realization hit me one night, do not leave until you leave and here is why?
It’s about the work, not the place it happens… if you love it. No matter your industry, at some level, you work there because you are good at it and enjoy the work. When you decide to leave it is almost always about the people but your body of work speaks to the type of professional you are and that has nothing to do with outside forces. Stay engaged, plug into the work because if you get into a habit “don’t care anymore”, it may be hard to break when you finally do move on.
Your co-workers are watching and talking. You may think that checking out only hurts you but it’s doesn’t, someone has to pick up your slack. I know what you are thinking, who cares? Right. The answer is, you should. Most organizations are getting a large percentage of their hires from referrals, especially if your industry is connected, like marketing. Your co-workers are your potential network, even people do not work directly with. If and when people move on, you may find that someone moved on to a company you want to work for, but now they do not want to risk their personal brand referring you.
And finally… you do not know how long it will take you to move on. For some people, moving on is quick but for others, it can take 6 months to a year. You do not want to check out, start to suck at your job and get fired.
A way to combat the urge to “check out” is to get to the root of why you want to out and give it less power, while you are looking for something better. If it is about a boss or co-worker, just resolve to put your head down and be 100% about the work. If you are not growing, take growth into your own hands. The truth is work is always full of flaws, even in the best organizations. I am sure there is an employee at Google right now that is ready to bounce because of their direct report. It happens, you should move on but do not leave mentally until you have an offer (in writing) to leave physically.