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Planning to resign? Middle East experts discuss the pros and cons of rising the ranks

Some positions demand commitment, so before quitting, experts make a case for you to rise the ranks to reap true benefits.

Planning to resign? Middle East experts discuss the pros and cons of rising the ranks
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

You’ve been waiting eight months for that promotion, yet it hasn’t come through. But your friend got a raise in six months. What went wrong? The truth is there’s no magic bullet formula to growth. At one time, staying in an organization for years was a sure shot to success, an obvious strategy to climb the ladder. Many swear by this strategy even today. But industry dynamics are changing. 

A study by Pew Research Centre found that the “quit rate” globally has been at an all-time high for 20 years, even before the Great Resignation. The research found people left primarily for three reasons – low pay (63%), no opportunities (63%), and disrespect at work (57%). Global stats are a pointer to the state of affairs in the GCC, wherein several region-specific studies affirm an understanding of employee motivations and grievances. 

Research in the banking sector in the Middle East studied the role of rewards and their coherence with employee retention. Interestingly, the study found that from the pool of three types of rewards – extrinsic, intrinsic, and social, the latter had the highest correlation with employee retention. Respondents said they would likely stay in an organization for positive social interactions— supportive relations with colleagues and supervisors. 

It’s common to see people switch jobs within two months of taking a new role, as employers constantly use tactics to attract and retain the best available talent to scale. 


How long is long enough to see if a role is suitable? “Six months,” says Hussein Rifai, Chairman of SPC Global, “is a good amount of time for an employee to remain at an organization. During this time, the person should seek and apply for opportunities to develop and improve themselves.

Dr Jana Bou Reslan, a UAE-based coach and lecturer, says that six months is too short a time for people to change jobs. “The younger generation tends to give any job a period of barely six months. Then, they rush to quit. Hopping from one job to another might sound cool initially, but one might lose focus.” 

“Loyalty to a company that offers you a chance to grow is a good reason to stay as long as the environment is not toxic and your job aligns with your personal development goals,” she adds.

With over four decades of experience in business strategy, private equity, and investment banking, Rifai explains the world is dramatically different today than it was even five years ago. “Everything is moving at a much faster pace, like technology. Employees must be given opportunities to learn new skills to keep up and competitive incentives. However, as important as the skills are, the work culture provides an opportunity to learn.” 

Before one decides to throw in their hat, there are a few reflections worth noting while measuring how much time one should give to grow in a role, according to Mary Grothe, CEO of the House of Revenue.
“At what stage in your career are you? What are you working toward? What is your life’s true calling? Are you working to pursue your purpose?”

“Each person has varying levels of dreams, ambition, talents, and purpose. If their current role is not propelling them forward and they have exhausted their ability to influence it, move on,” adds Grothe. 


While quitting isn’t a solution, if the work culture isn’t adding up, Reslan suggests a few exercises before making a hasty choice.

Open communication is key: Talk to your manager about the challenges while offering potential solutions to improve the workplace — be more functional, tasks get more manageable, and how the changes you ask for would eventually serve the whole team.

Seek an objective viewpoint: Talk to your career advisors for an objective, informed opinion on when you should quit. 

Introspect. How valuable would it be to keep your job on a financial, personal, and social level? Is it early or timely to leave for a new job? What are the prospects of succeeding and being fulfilled if you resign now? Do not be afraid to look inside for answers.


According to experts, it may be worth working hard rather than switching jobs in a few months, but not at the expense of mental health. “Some want to rise through the ranks. Professional development, education, and experience all play critical roles in how an employee can rise through the ranks of an organization. This is possible in the dynamic and vibrant job markets in the region. Depending on the organization, education may be a prerequisite for promotions. Hence the need for high-quality, accredited institutions to offer programs that match the industry trends,” says Dyllan Hancott, Director, Advancement Office, Canadian University Dubai. 

Over the years, the meaning of loyalty has changed in organizations. “What used to constitute a reasonably ‘good job’ to keep for a baby boomer is not a factor a fresh graduate considers. People in their early 20s are loyal to themselves — their passion, not their job, unlike a baby boomer or Gen X who needs a steady job to look after their family. Priorities and values in life have changed. And so did employees’ behaviors and decision-making as a result,” says Reslan. 

The intention to stay in a position to grow seems simple. But before doing it solely to rise to the pecking order, remember there may be drawbacks to that approach, warns Grothe. “Rising the ranks is pointless if the goal is to reach the top for the title or the money. Many regret their life decisions once they get there; often feeling lonely,” she explains. 

“Rise the ranks if it furthers your ability.”

People should not take a lot of time before quitting their job if the company values do not match their own. “Also, if they are overworked to reach burnout, I advise them to run in the other direction,” says Reslan. 

“But you should weigh your options carefully before quitting a job, especially if you have financial commitments or are not a risk taker to start a new business. If the current job is not threatening your well-being, you should think twice before you quit,” she adds.


Loyalty and patience always pay off, and professional settings are more often than not an indication of this. “Staying employed, especially in medium to large organizations, requires skills. Navigating through culture and office politics is difficult, which often means an accelerated or slower career path,” explains Rifai. 

“Although this skill is becoming less important as people work from home, everybody’s career growth will eventually involve managing other staff,” he adds. “This skill will have to be mastered if a person wants to continue to develop.”

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Rachel Clare McGrath Dawson is a Senior Correspondent at Fast Company Middle East. More

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