I often find myself talking to change agents who are at the end of their rope. They’ve tried everything they can think of to keep the initiative moving forward, but instead, they find their initiatives – and themselves – stuck.
As a result, they start thinking about their alternatives. Some seek other roles or projects within the same organization, and others start looking for another job altogether. And while they are waiting to jump ship, they give up in place, going through the motions but resigned to the fact that the initiative will flounder.
It’s not that they want the initiative to fail. Often, they care enough to want to wash their hands of the failure. If they quit, they figure, then it’s someone else’s failure and not theirs. They’ve done all they can do. No sense continuing to bang their head against a wall that’s not going to give.
What an awful feeling, right? If that’s where you are, ask yourself these three questions before you completely throw in the towel:
Is the initiative worth fighting for?
Some projects you do because it’s your job. Others you do because you deeply believe in the cause. If the change were to fail, then the result would go against your values. Based on what is important to you, is failure an option you can live with? Or does failure result in a bad outcome for employees, customers or others you care about? An initiative that is not aligned with your values may not be worth the frustration. But if a successful outcome is worth fighting for, then you could most likely muster the energy for another attempt.
Is the challenge that’s blocking you something that is common to organizational change?
There are a number of challenges that are common to most organizational change initiatives. Leaders not doing what you need them to do. People not paying attention or not showing the enthusiasm you expect. A deeply entrenched status quo. If the challenge you face is something that is common to most change initiatives, then it’s likely you will face it no matter where you go. If you haven’t figured out how to overcome it in an organization you are familiar with, what is the likelihood you will be able to overcome it in a new environment with strangers? If you could figure out how to unblock the common challenge, then you would be a rock star change agent no matter where you go. If you jump ship first, you might just get stuck by the same thing next time.
Is there an issue that hasn’t been addressed that, if resolved, would jar the initiative loose?
Some initiatives get stuck when there is an issue that hasn’t been dealt with. Perhaps there is a leader who needs feedback about how their behavior contradicts the change message. Or maybe there is an “elephant in the room” whenever the team meets – something that everyone knows but no one will talk about. Until now, you too have been too uncomfortable to address it directly. If the issue were addressed, would the initiative become unstuck? If you are thinking of leaving anyway, why not give it a try?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it’s probably worth another try to get the initiative moving again. Consider the following resources to help you get unstuck: