Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quitting your job: coach or first class?

The publicity surrounding the dramatic exit of Jet Blue flight attendant, Steven Slater, raises questions about the best way to quit a job and workplace anger. It's reported that Slater cursed an unruly passenger, grabbed some beer, deployed the emergency slide and slid to freedom on the tarmac. Shortly after this incident, a Facebook page was created in his honor, money was raised for his defense fund and he was hailed a modern day hero. While many people have a bad day at work and think about saying, "take this job and shove it," few of us act on it. So does that make Slater a hero?

Emotions can spill over at perceived or real mistreatment in the workplace. However, it is rarely appropriate to break into a verbal rage at your boss, customers or co-workers. Bosses can be demanding. Customers can be rude. Co-workers may irritate you. It's enough to make anyone angry. Upon deeper examination, one finds that the rage often stems from the inability to effectively communicate and lack of healthy outlets. Most people do not know how to: engage in healthy disagreement, negotiate a deadline, listen or just unconditionally accept one another and move on. If you don't share the work ethics, values, rules, or pace of your workplace it may be time to leave. I know that's easier said than done when you have financial and family obligations. If the situation is not adversely affecting your mental or physical health, take time to pray about your next move and create an exit strategy that allows you to plan for your financial needs and family responsibilities. It may not be easy to decide to leave, but the longer you stay in a toxic workplace, your health and peace of mind may be adversely affected.

Even in this job market, you must move on if things are highly stressful in your workplace. Rather than exploding at the boss or customers, be sure to ask yourself what is it you're looking for in a workplace or boss? Are you flexible or offended when asked to do your job more efficiently or in a different way? Are you secretly harboring prejudices against your boss or co-workers? Is your anger more reflective of your own insecurities rather than real mistreatment? Do you have healthy stress relievers outside of work (exercise, community service, church, etc.)? Have your work responsibilities negatively affected your physical health in the past year? Do you have a good personal support system? Does your support system always agree with you or challenge you to see both sides of a situation? If you honestly answered yes to most of these questions, it may be time to leave.

Once you decide to leave your job, what is gained by telling people off? When you leave by sticking it to the man(or woman) that baggage can follow you for the rest of your life. Despite momentary satisfaction and fifteen minutes of fame, Slater still faces criminal charges and its reported that he could have injured ground crews and others during his dramatic departure. It's been estimated that the slide deployment cost the airline $25,000.

There's an abundance of unhealthy rage and resentment toward jobs, bosses and customers. Some of it may even be justified. But the truth is that there is no perfect boss or workplace. You should never accept insults, public humiliation or physical harassment by a boss, colleague or customer. If you are not in a genuinely abusive situation, take time to assess your career and workplace expectations,create an exit strategy and maintain a healthy, full life outside of work. If you choose to stay, it means learning to respect personality quirks, communication styles and the workplace culture. It means trying to anticipate more of what's required and whining less. It means asking questions or negotiating deadlines. It means knowing the difference between a valid complaint and when you are simply being immature or selfish. It means staying physically healthy by walking,running or finding a form of relaxation you enjoy. It means praying for those you may not like and rising above pettiness or gossip. Ultimately, it may mean simply moving on if you don't see a way to remain emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy in that environment.

The Steven Slater story saddens me as I think about how many people supported and encouraged him simply because they too have similar workplace anger and rage. So when all is said and done, do you prefer to travel coach or first-class? I choose first-class whenever possible. First class is so much more comfortable when you have to quit your job, you can do it with grace, dignity, prayer, a plan and thoughtful communication. What do you think? Is the flight attendant a hero or zero to you? Why? Share your comments with me...