Like most people, things happen at work that makes me want to look for another job. As I get older and gain more experience, I have tried to take emotion out of the process of deciding if I should seek new employment. Over the years, I have found that if I can take emotion out of this decision process, I tend to think more clearly and can make a more informed decision. It may seem very simple and obvious but one of the ways I am able to to accomplish this is to make a Pros and Cons List or what I like to call a PROCO List.
What is PROCO List?
A PROCO List is a detailed list of the all the important pros and cons of working for your current employer and if done correctly, it can help you understand your overall job satisfaction and help you decide if you need to make a career move or seek out a new employer. You could make a PROCO list on a sheet of paper, in an excel spreadsheet or a napkin. How you make your PROCO list doesn’t matter as long as you make one in regular intervals and you put some thought into the exercise.
Also, as I have gained more experience about what types of environments I tend to thrive in, I have come up with a list of items that are extremely important to me and I pay close attention to where these items reside on my PROCO list. For example, there are three basic aspects of a project I have identified that tends to give me a good indication on whether I am being placed in a position where I can be successful and all of my skills will be utilized or I am being placed in a position where I could fail and my overall job satisfaction suffers. The three attributes are as follows: 1) Will I be a leader on the project 2) Will my opinions be sought after and respected and 3) Will the project be a death march.
A Sample PROCO List
Below is an example of what a PROCO List might consist of:
- Can work from home
- 5 minute commute
- Friendly co-workers
- Good culture
- My opinions are valued
- 401k provided
- Not a leader on current project
- Hate my boss
- 100% travel required
- No career path
- Projects are not very exciting
- Pay is below average
- Work lots of hours
How to Interpret You PROCO List
Interpreting your PROCO list is very subjective and you have to examine a lot factors when evaluating your list. Typically, when the cons start to equal or outnumber the pros, I tend to start focusing on the items that I feel I cannot live without and observe if the majority are on the pro side or the con side. As I stated earlier, there are three aspects of a project that if they are present, I tend to be very successful. As you can see from my sample PROCO list, only 1 of the 3, which is, “My opinions are valued” is on the pro side of the list.
Next, I have to determine if I can really live with the other 2 items being on the con side of the list. Also, I start to examine overall job related aspects such as pay, commute time and career path and examine where they fall on the list. The reason why I evaluate the project aspects before looking at items like pay and career path is because, one, I am a consultant and go from project to project and two, if I am smart, I evaluated these types of items before accepting a job offer from my employer and thus these are used to determine if I can live with the majority of the important project qualities being on the con side.
I start asking myself questions about these items based upon where they are located on the list. As I examine each item, I am having a very important conversation with myself and I am literally interviewing my employer each time I compile and study my PROCO list. Some of the questions I tend to ask myself are: Can some of cons on the list be moved to the pro side by talking to my supervisor or Although I feel I am not compensated fairly, does the short commute time offset some of the cons?
As I go through the exercise of examining my PROCO list and asking myself very direct questions about the items on the list, I tend to gain a better overall understanding of my current job satisfaction and this allows me to make decisions that are not based completely on emotion. And of course, if you can take emotion out of a big decision such as deciding to pursue other career opportunities, you can make a more informed decision and events such as rage quitting can be avoided.
How Often Should you make a PROCO List?
How often you make a PROCO list is completely up to you. I try to make a PROCO list at least once a month or when I start to have negative thoughts about my employer or the project I am currently assigned. Making and studying my PROCO list helps me decide if the negative thoughts I am currently having concern items that are temporary and can be fixed and determining my current overall job satisfaction. Once I am armed with this information, I can make a very informed decision about what steps, if need be, should be taken to increase job satisfaction.
Work to Live
In summary, making a PROCO list can help you make important decisions about your career and give you insight into how happy you are working for your current employer. There have been many times where I have wanted to rage quit and creating and examining a PROCO list has allowed me to step away from the ledge and see my situation more clearly. For most of us, work is a necessity but I believe that instead of living to work, we should work to live so that we can live the life that we want. Consistently examining your overall job satisfaction by making a PROCO list is a way to accomplish this goal because it allows you to see your situation more objectively and can put you in a better position to work to live.