In the public safety world, we’re constantly looking to hire and retain staff. We want to keep employees and maintain staffed comm centers. There are many times though where someone isn’t happy in the job and they’re looking for advice as to what their next step should be. When it’s a coworker we encourage them to speak to a supervisor or take time off or maybe go to therapy, but we hardly ever recommend they quit. I mean, why would we? If they quit who’s going to cover the shift? A look in the mirror will quickly answer that question.
When it comes to those who may be unhappy and they’re not a coworker our response is usually still the same. We suggest they talk to a supervisor or take time off or maybe try therapy. We still very rarely recommend they quit. Only when they bring up the idea of quitting do we maybe support them in it. This is also the case for many in our industry. With the majority of centers being overworked and understaffed, we would be fools to openly and routinely recommend that someone quit. But is this doing more harm than good?
For those of you who are tired to the depths of your soul and trying to decide what to do, may I introduce you to the “Power of Positive Quitting”. I think that Marie Forleo sums it up best in her book, “Everything is Figureoutable”.
“Positive quitting is when you realize that you’ve gone as far as you possibly can. You’ve given it your very best effort and now it’s become clear-in your heart and soul-that the wisest and most productive next step is to cut your losses and move on.”
This doesn’t mean that after a bad day or two you throw in the towel and proclaim this career is not for you. This is just what Marie says it is; you’ve gone as far as you can and have given it all you’ve got.
We have to protect each other and ourselves…
We talk a lot about burnout and protecting our mental health these days, but it’s important to remember that we can’t promote that only within the context of someone keeping their job in the comm center. Sometimes the best thing to do is move on. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that they move on from dispatching. It can simply mean they move on to another center that is a better fit. Sometimes it’s not the job that wears on us, but the environment.
When someone starts considering leaving, we must encourage them to determine if they want to leave the job or the environment. Maybe dispatching is what they enjoy, but a change in scenery could go along way for their mental health. Often when we look at someone quitting, it comes with an overtone of disappointment from coworkers and/or leadership and for the individual, they may feel like a failure. Quitting doesn’t have to be a negative experience. It can be a positive step in the right direction!
In “Everything is Figureoutable”, Marie also relates working and how we eat. (Who doesn’t love a good food related analogy?) She relates it to how we don’t just continue to eat and eat and eat; we stop when we’re satisfied. So to those of you struggling in your current role I ask you; are you satisfied? Have you put forth the effort and time to do well and try to make changes? Have you done what you can to communicate concerns or frustrations? Are you satisfied that you have given it your best and still feel it may be time to move on? Then stop eating! Start looking for that change in scenery that will better serve you. Trust that your heart and soul are on to something and maybe it’s time to move on.