The dangers and costs of a poor career decision…

I was speaking recently with a commercial professional. She explained how she felt unsettled by the change in company culture, which was as a result of her organisation being acquired. Previously her ideas were listened to and she was able to positively impact the overall business - this autonomy was now lacking. She felt so keen to leave this organisation that little consideration was put into how this change would fit her values and enhance her career.

She made the quick decision to join a competitor without exploring all potential career options in the live and ‘hidden’ job markets. Unfortunately within the first week at the new business it became evident that she had made a mistake.

The culture in the new organisation is somewhat toxic – where respect for employees is low and micromanagement the order of the day. She believes that she needs to stay in this negative environment for a number of years because of the potentially damaging effect on her CV.

Does this sound familiar?

The world of sport provides us with another example of the high costs associated with poor career decision making. Fernando Alonso has won two Formula One Championships in total – both with the Renault team. During his career he made multiple team moves between McLaren, Renault and Ferrari.

I believe if he had made more accurate decisions aligned to his values he would possibly have won 5 championships in total and even be considered one of the most successful drivers the sport has ever seen. However he now struggles to achieve podium finishes let alone win races.

Has there been a time when you felt stressed/negative at work?

Were you at risk of making a rash career decision?

What was the cause of this?

Can you remember a time in your career when everything seemed to flow? You had challenging work that played to your strengths, you respected the ability of your colleagues. Your line manager whilst difficult to please was supportive of your value, and you were clear on the direction and impact of your work.

So how do you make accurate career decisions?

  • Identify what is most important to you in a new role – list 10 key priorities.

  • Place these in order of importance identifying the top three priorities.

  • Some suggestions to explore would be: level of autonomy, company culture, opportunity for career progression and the calibre of leadership team and peers combined with appropriate reward are seen as critical for talented professionals.

  • Rate each one of these top 3 priorities out of maximum 5 points. E.g. 5=Amazing; 4=Good…1=None.

Once you’ve completed this analysis, the decision should be fairly straight forward:

Average above 4 = Go for it!

Average between 2 & 4 = is the grass greener?

Average below 2 = Walk Away!

he temptation is to score a “new” opportunity too positively, you really need to ensure you’re objective and that any organisation and role is carefully evaluated.

Do you need help to define your strategy to make 2016 a career success? Do not hesitate to get in touch via this page or send an email directly to me on

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