Ten years ago, when I was working for Shell Oil’s Exploration and Production Europe division, our chief executive officer for the division was Tom Botts.
He was my number one career role model at the time. I liked his idea of always asking three questions to determine if you need to stay in the present job or move on.
According to Botts, there are three questions that one needs to always ask. If your answers to all the three questions are positive then you have a case to continue in the current job.
However, if any of the three answers is negative, then you may have to consider looking for other options. I like this idea because it provides a framework for making serious career decisions. Many times, employees have issues, but not aware whether they need to decide to move on or to stay.
Botts’ framework provides a good structured approach that you can use in such moments. Let us now look at the three litmus test questions that Botts used to check the viability of his career:
- Am I happy with my job/employer? You need to regularly check if you are happy with your working environment. This includes whether you are happy with your current job, your boss or the employer in general. Are you happy? If you are happy, then it is all well and good. If you are not happy, then you need to determine the factors that make you not so happy. What are the root causes for your lack of happiness at work? Can you control or change those issues? If it is issues to do with your boss, find a way to work them out with him or her. If they are general company issues, talk with the human resources (HR) department to resolve. You need to be happy because that is a basic right for everyone. If you are not happy at work, chances are that your performance will not be optimal. You cannot be an unhappy employee and turn out to be the best performer—that is very unlikely. Operating in an unhappy mode will greatly undermine your potential. If you fail to resolve these issues, you have a good reason to seek alternative career paths.
- Is my family happy? Many of us forget this important external aspect of the healthiness of our career. Clearly, Botts himself is family man. But he is also correct to include the family aspect in his evaluation of the ‘going concern’ of his career. Botts completed 35 years of work with Shell—basically working all his life at Shell. This means that for all those years, his family was continuously happy with him and his job! So, it is possible. There will always be moments when work demands that we work late at night or weekends at some stage. There will always be things at work that impact our family. Do not look at small single instances. The question is whether with respect to your job or employer, your family have big continuing issues. Then you may have to seriously consider moving on for the sake of your family. If your family is not happy, you cannot afford to be happy!
- Am I learning/developing? You need to regularly check if your current work environment enables you to continuously learn and develop professionally. Are you growing professionally or you are stagnant? If you are stagnant, you need to look elsewhere so that you can grow professionally. This question should necessarily include the check on possibilities for your career growth going forward. Do you foresee possible promotion when you qualify in the future or are you stuck in one place forever?
It is important to regularly review your job and employment to decide if you need to continue in the current situation or to move on. Botts’ framework is an appropriate tool for this exercise. Remember to regularly review your career using Tom Botts’ Framework.
All the best! n