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Career Decisions

2 min
career  ✺  careerdevelopment  ✺  mentoring  ✺  decisionmaking  ✺  careergrowth

One of the most common mentorship topics is one where the mentee is contemplating a career decision and is seeking guidance from their mentor. The scenario varies from considering a different role, team, organization or an external opportunity, and below I share the common framework through which I guide a mentee in their decision-making process:

1️⃣ Do your homework: First question I ask is if the mentee has a career growth plan, and if so how do the prospects of the current role and the new role(s) being considered align with that? Why? In the absence of a career plan, it’s difficult to objectively assess which opportunity is more appropriate. A key consideration here is to think of this within 2-3 year horizon, balancing between short-term thinking and long-term planning. Writing this down helps ensure that you dive deep, obtain the necessary clarity, and convince yourself in the process.

2️⃣ Normalize opportunities: As the saying goes “the grass is always greener on the other side”. To combat this bias of assessing a prospective opportunity in more favorable conditions than the current role, normalize the prospective opportunity with a more realistic (slightly pessimistic) outlook. Ask yourself,  if any particular aspect of the role is not as good as you first thought - would you still be satisfied with your decision?

3️⃣ Maximize return from current role: We often treat our existing role/scope/work conditions as immutable, whereas more often than not we can affect changes to them. Ask yourself, have you discussed whatever aspects of the role you would like to see changed with your manager? I recall one pivotal conversation I had with my mentor a few years back where I felt that I could take on more. My mentor advised me to talk to my manager (before considerating other options), and while it was a difficult conversation to initiate, looking back at this meeting and the ensuing changes to my scope played a pivotal role in my career development. We spend significant effort building domain (functional and technical) knowledge, establishing stakeholder relationships, and earning trust with our leadership - so to the extent we can continue to grow in place, we should leverage this avenue.

4️⃣ Own the decision: Ultimately as a mentee you have to take the final decision because you (and only you) will have to live with its consequences either way. My favorite statement here is “take the decision that makes you comfortable sleeping at night knowing you took it”.

No post on career (or broader) decision-making would be complete without Jeff’s (Bezos) regret minimization framework: https://lnkd.in/dU7ZcgWs .

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