We all lose interest in our jobs for one reason or another. This can lead to job or career changes, job-hopping for a raise or promotion, or simply quitting for the sake of quitting — sometimes, we have the resources to sit out of the labor force for a while and take stock of our options. But when you plan to quit your job, or at least give the idea some serious consideration, it can cause problems with co-workers and managers. For that reason, it can be best to keep our thoughts about quitting to ourselves.
But, much like a game of Texas Hold’em, our body language and behavior can betray us. That is, we might be translating our intentions to our colleagues and superiors, potentially causing problems and throwing a wrench in our exit strategies.
A new study, published in the Journal of Management by researchers from Utah State, Florida State, and Arizona State Universities has identified 13 specific “pre-quitting behaviors” that can communicate your desire to quit before you’re ready to pull the trigger. The researchers followed up with an explanatory article in Harvard Business Review, telling how they “edited and pruned the list of 900+ behaviors” to end up with 13.
If you plan to quit your job, or are giving the idea some thought, check out the list and see if you’re telegraphing your next move before you’re ready.
1. Productivity is down
The first signal that something is up? Lower productivity. If you’ve lost interest in your job, you’re probably not going to be operating at full capacity. Your mind wanders, and you start taking longer breaks. As a result, productivity dips.
2. No longer a team player
Your teammates rely on you, and if your enthusiasm and productivity are waning, those teammates are going to notice — because it impacts them directly. These are the people who are probably going to pick up on the fact that you’re thinking of quitting before management.
3. Minimum effort
Along with less productivity comes less effort. If you’re thinking about quitting your job, you’ll probably do the minimum necessary to avoid getting fired — until you can quit on your own terms. Laziness and apathy also play a role.
4. No interest in impressing the boss
If your productivity and effort are consciously taking a dip, you probably don’t care all that much about impressing your boss anymore. Another tell that you’re planning to quit your job? Lack of concern in regard to what your boss thinks.
5. Wavering on long-term commitments
If you’ve ever been through a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the signs are there — and those signs translate into your career. Wavering on commitments, and breaking off dates or meetings? As you might have suspected, something is probably up.
6. Bad attitude
If you’re unhappy at your job, it can be easy to slip into a cycle of negativity. This can cause mood changes and swings, and you may find yourself being a jerk for no reason. This is a big red flag that something is up, and may tip colleagues that you’re on your way out.
7. Less effort and motivation
Naturally, you’ll be less motivated at a job that you no longer care about. If your productivity is slipping, it’s probably tied to your lack of motivation and putting less effort into your work.
8. Focus on the job is waning
If you find yourself surfing Facebook, Reddit, or simply staring out the window for long stretches during the day, you’re very clearly disconnected and distracted. Your work isn’t holding your attention, and it’s a sign that you’re ready to move on.
9. Dissatisfaction with the job
If you can’t tell, all of these signs tend to cascade into one another — and a low level of job satisfaction is yet another symptom that it’s time to move on. If you’re lacking satisfaction from your work, it’s going to become clear to colleagues that you might be planning to quit your job.
10. Expressing dissatisfaction with the boss
Had enough of your manager’s crap? Don’t give a hoot if they’re not particularly stoked with your performance? They can tell that you’re disengaged and likely planning to depart.
11. Leaving early
Sneaking out early, or showing up late? It’s yet another sign that you’re detached or detaching, and might be ready to hitch your wagon to another horse.
12. Enthusiasm is down
Of course, enthusiasm will be waning when you’re ready to take your talents “to South Beach,” as Lebron James might say. This is probably the whole reason you’re ready to leave anyway: You’re no longer enthused by your job.
13. Less interest in working with customers
If you’ve worked in customer service in any capacity, you know that it’s tough, and maintaining enthusiasm and a positive attitude is very difficult. Once the customers manage to erode it all away, however, it’s time to look for a new job.