There is No Them

Lessons on leadership from the world of game development

The Importance of Having (Job) Options and the Magic of Choices

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Have you spoken to a recruiter in the last couple of months? Or chatted with someone outside your current employer about a new job? For most people in the video games industry your answer should be yes. No matter how well things are going today in your current job, having job options is always better than not having options. In this post I’ll discuss why I’ve always asked those working for me to be open to considering other jobs, especially my top performers.

When you wake up in the morning do you decide to go to work, or do you go to work because you have to? If going to work at your current job is your only option than you are going to work because you have to. And we all know that we come to dread the things we have to do a lot faster than we do the things we decide to do.

To decide to go to your job you need to make a choice, and choices require options. Having only one option is not a choice. But having multiple options can completely change your mindset.

Even if you have no good options, just having options puts you in a much better position than if you had no options.

Choices are powerful magic. Choices are how we take control of our lives. Choices allow us to face the risks life presents proactively. Its harder to take a victim mentality when you know why you chose the option you did.

I want everyone in my organization to decide to come to work, knowing that of all of the options available to him or her this job is the right one for them right now. And if they decide at some point what I can offer is no longer their best option I fully support them in pursuing whatever better option they want.

Imagine two teams doing similar work. One team is full of people who wake up every day and go to work because they have no other choices. Whether they enjoy their work or not they stay, because they think any job is better than no job. Instead of engaging productively when issues arise at work they kowtow, lest they rock the boat and put their job in jeopardy. Its unlikely anyone in this situation is doing their very best work, so inevitably the success of the group suffers. These people might be capable of passion, but have almost no passion for their work, because it’s become ‘just a job’.

The other team is full of people who wake up every day knowing they decide to go to work where they do, because they know that with just a bit of effort they could be working somewhere else. When these people have an issue in their job they address it, because having chosen to work where they do they have a vested interest in its success. These people demonstrate passion, and are more likely to strive to do their best work, precisely because they chose to be where they are.

The people in the first team are no less qualified, skilled, or professional as those in the second team. The difference is in deciding to make a choice. When everyone in a group is making the choice to be a part of the group that group is much more powerful.

As any leader wants what is best for their organization, it follows that leaders should strive to make their organization one that great people will choose. But even great people need a change of pace now and then, so a mature leader knows that saying goodbye a strong performer is better than that person staying because they don’t understand their other options.

Everyone benefits when they understand their other options. Which is why I want everyone in my organization to not be afraid to consider other jobs.  If I’ve done my job right, as a leader, those that are committed will stay, improving our chances of success considerably.

Some consider my willingness to discuss this topic with my staff crazy. But there are those in the industry that take this concept even further. Riot Games recently followed Zappo’s lead in putting a program in place that will pay employees to leave early if they discover Riot isn’t a good fit for them.

Even those organizations not able or willing to go as far as Riot does can have an open dialog with their members about how important it is for them have job choices. If your management considers discussion of other opportunities taboo you should question their motives, and whether that’s the kind of management you want to be working for.

Don’t wait until things at your current job get bad. Leaving a sinking ship isn’t really a choice if you wait too long. Having options while things are good prepare you for if (or when) things do go badly.

Don’t just do your day job because it happens to be the one you have, commit to your day job because you understand the other options available to you, and are unafraid to pursue them. Harness the powerful magic that comes from making a choice.

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Written by joshuahoward

July 1, 2014 at 9:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] Be on the watch for opportunities even before you think you are ready to leave your current gig. Timing is important. (I wrote about this before here.) […]


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