If you are generally happy with your company, and you’re not looking for a change because of your salary, the company culture, etc., it’s much safer to move within the company than taking on a completely new adventure.
But why and when to change teams?
Obviously, there is not a single right answer to this question. There are multiple reasons to join another team. Let’s discuss the top 7/8 reasons and share yours in the comments section.
You have to spice things up every once in a while
Should you change teams just because you’ve been there for a long time? Some will disagree, but I think it is a good enough reason.
You might claim that there is that enormous system in your company and you won’t be able to discover it deep enough. You want to understand all its parts and become an expert on the whole.
It’s a bad idea.
First, if you are working on such a huge system, most probably multiple teams are taking care of it, so if you want to have a full grasp of it, you need to change teams.
Second, the real complex systems are so huge nowadays that one person cannot understand them all alone anyway.
On the other hand, by staying too long, you might get too comfortable in your position. You think you know everything, and probably you know more than the rest of the team. Definitely the newcomers. By knowing more, you are less motivated to dive in more.
By staying too long somewhere, you hoard too much info, too much project-specific knowledge and you’ll be challenged less and less.
This is a threat to the organization too, one person should not know too much. But here we focus on the individual. Your job is similar to the gym. Growth needs tension, not comfort. You have to move out of your comfort zone. For that, you need to change teams every once in a while.
Don’t be the smartest person in the room
Knowing the most about a given system, being more knowledgeable than the others won’t make you the smartest person in the room. But it increases the chances of being that person.
That’s another thing you should avoid. If you are constantly the smartest person in the room, you limit your potential to grow. You can always learn something from others, but obviously, you can learn more from people who are smarter than you are. In addition, they also serve as motivational forces.
You’re heavily shaped by the five people who you spend the most time with. At work, you’re heavily shaped by the people you work with the most. Therefore you need to surround yourself with people who motivate you to grow, from who you can learn a lot.
If you are not in such a team, you should look for another one.
Losing your motivation is a telltale sign
If you are noticing that you are not as driven in your team as you used to be, if you are showing signs of losing your motivation, you should think about changing teams.
Beware, I didn’t say that you should change teams! I said you should think about it!
There can be many possible reasons for losing your motivation and you have to examine a bit yourself to avoid drawing early conclusions.
The loss of motivation is relatively easy to recognize. For example, there were times when I didn’t want to accompany my wife and the kids to medical check-ups. My company granted all its employees some time for that but as my wife used to be a stay-at-home mom, I thought I’m unnecessary there.
Obviously, when I was a real help due to logistics, I went, but otherwise, I tried not to. I preferred to do my job and not to abuse this time granted.
Later on, I felt that I rather go anywhere including to the doctor than sit at my desk and work. It was a surefire sign of something changing.
Still, the loss of motivation cannot make you change teams without further analysis.
You have to understand where this loss of motivation comes from. Maybe it’s purely internal and has nothing to do with your job. In that case, you have to work on yourself, you have to fix yourself and find your inner motivation to contribute to your team with the same dedication as before.
If after the analysis you think that the loss of motivation is clearly external, then try to understand why it’s still internal. Think about stoic wisdom. You should concentrate on what is in your power and not what is out of your control. Most probably you are bothered by something you should not be bothered about.
Of course, it’s still possible that something bothers you because it goes against your core values. You could ignore it, you could say that changing it is out of your control, but acting against your most important values is a foolproof way to the land of burnout and self-hatred.
Ignored core values are a good reason to change. If you stay, you’ll stay bitter, you’ll work unmotivated and that’s a lose-lose situation. Better to step out of it before you’re forced out.
When your word doesn’t count
In corporate engagement surveys, it’s often asked whether your opinion matters or not. I think if you cannot answer positively that question, you should change teams.
You’re a developer. You learnt a lot to get where you are.
You are more than a mere executor, a cog in the chain.
Your opinion should count. Even if you are a junior developer.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t say that the team should do what you say. I don’t say that every decision should reflect your opinion.
I simply say that what you say should matter.
Even if you’re plain wrong, people should take the time to explain why you’re wrong.
This is essential for a junior developer to grow.
If you’re a senior developer, it’s obvious that you want your opinion to matter. It’s a result of getting more responsibility something that should come with growth.
If your word doesn’t count, leave!
When you don’t see things improving
In life everyone has issues. Each individual. There is no reason to think that it would be different for a set of people each having problems.
Every team has its own problems, own challenges.
At least according to my experience.
The right way to manage problems is to accept them voluntarily and to face their enthusiasm. Problems are to be solved, challenges are to be tackled, not to be ignored.
If you are in a team that actively talks about its problems and looks for solutions, you are at the right place.
Otherwise, if the upcoming questions are not being addressed, your workplace will continue deteriorating. You can take that for granted.
You can try to wake people up and make them care, but if it’s not working out, don’t waste your time. Don’t cast pearls before swine. Go and change teams.
When the same mistakes are committed
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” - as the quote says.
Of course, most of us could be qualified as insane. We do repeat some of our mistakes, but most of us try to recognize them and actually get better.
There are some teams, some units that don’t try to do it and admittedly make the same mistakes over and over again. There are some teams that simply don’t want to invest in doing things right.
I even met people in decision making positions who said, oh yes, we know it’s bad, but you know we’re going to do the same mistakes again because growth is the most important for us.
Yeah well, if growth is more important than anything and everything then at a point the bubble will flat out and there will be no more growth, but collapse will take its place.
Should they count you in? I think it’s better to find another place.
When a great opportunity arises!
We listed a couple of reasons, mostly negative ones that to me justifies leaving a team. Though leaving because of having stayed for a long time is not negative, we haven’t mentioned anything positive. Yet.
So let’s finish the article with a positive reason.
Even if you are in a team where you are happy, where you learn if a great opportunity arises don’t turn it down just because you are content in your current position.
Don’t jump on every fad, but if you hear about an opportunity that fits your plans both humanly and professionally, talk to your management and try your chance.
As one of our executives told us before covid when we started to invest in some big technical migrations, the best time to change is not when you need to, but when you are ahead of the others when you are on the top of the market. You have to actively form your fate and not simply be reactive.
If this is true for companies, it’s even truer for individuals. Ideally, you don’t change teams when you must look for another one, when you are unhappy with your job, when you hate going/logging in every single day. Instead, you upgrade your position, when you have the time to find the ideal position.
I advise you to be transparent with all involved parties if you plan to take on an opportunity. Let’s not focus on why it’s nice towards your management, let’s focus on you. By being transparent from the beginning with your management, by sharing early on that you want to apply for a position simply because you find it interesting and you think it’s a step forward to you, you increase the chances of not facing remorses if you don’t get it.
Telling your potential new management that you don’t want to leave your actual team, you just simply find their team a good next step in your career will put you on the same level. I found several hiring managers speaking from high ground, saying things such as “if we choose you”. But if you make it clear that you have other options - such as staying - they will more likely treat you as partners.
If you got accepted, your management was warned on time and if you don’t, they should understand your motives and welcome you “back”.
In this article, we discussed 7 reasons to change teams in a company. Most of them are negative, such as your word is not being taken into account or when a team is constantly committing the same errors and yet they don’t want to change. Though negative reasons are not the only ones, staying in a team for a long time is already a good reason to change, not to mention when you find a place fitting your long term plans, you should take on the opportunity.
When do you consider changing teams? What are your top reasons?
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