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Should I quit my job of 15 years?

(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have held the same job as a secretary at a large public high school since 1999. My current director is very nice, but she is a weak leader. She cannot make the simplest of decisions, and she relies on everyone else (mostly me) to get HER job done. She doesn't know how to do anything herself, and she has no idea on how to do my job at all. Nobody in my department respects her, largely because she literally runs around in circles all day, and only concerns herself with trivial matters. This director seems to take up space and does not contribute much to her department or high school.

Her staff takes advantage of her lack of leadership, and they do whatever they want; hardly ever carrying out the full responsibilities of their jobs. Attendance is poor in my department, nobody takes anything seriously, and their attitude is: "Because our director is so unaccountable, why should we be?" I have had to turn a blind eye to much of what DOES NOT happen within my department.

I know that my principal is aware of the problems that exist in my department, however, I have not noticed anything being done about it. I have been unhappy for a few years in my current job because of the low morale, and attitude of my co-workers. It seems that the staff in my department come to work to take up space and do the bare minimum to qualify as doing their jobs, then they are out of there... as fast as possible. They tend to "avoid" any type of work challenge that requires their efforts and attention; they basically do the bare minimum of their jobs.

I have an opportunity for a new position at a very prestigious school. The new job sounds interesting and with better pay than my current job, and my potential new boss seems very supportive and nice. However, I am very nervous about leaving my job after 15 years. Even though my work situation within my department has a lot of problems, the people, although irresponsible and undependable are nice, and I am very comfortable there. I like my daily routine that I am very used to, and I comfortable with it. I am nervous about taking this new job, and I am afraid of it turning out to be a big mistake. Just thinking about starting-over at a new place of employment makes my head pound. I am very nervous about it. On paper, it looks to me that I should leave my current job for this new offer. However, emotionally, I am very apprehensive.

Why isn't this decision crystal clear for me? I have never had such a hard time making a decision like this before.

What do you think I should do?

I can't tell you what you should do, but I can tell you what I would do, which is take the new job and never look back. You're unhappy there. Your boss is not doing a good job. Her boss ignores the problems. You spend a tremendous amount of your daily life at work, and if there is something better out there, take it!

That said, I totally understand where you are coming from. You know what to expect. You know how to do things. With 15 years of experience in this job, you're also (undoubtedly) the expert and the problem solver. You know how to do everything that needs doing and who to talk with if you can't do it yourself. You understand the history of the place and have earned the respect of others in the office.

It's absolutely scary to start a new job. Even though you've interviewed and read job description and have met several of the people you'll be working with, you don't know who to call when the printer starts spewing paper across the room. You don't know if there will be a coworker who will bombard you with stories about her toenail problems. You don't know what bad things there are lurking under the surface. But, you also don't know what good things are there.

In your current job, you know your boss is lousy. You know your coworkers will slack off. You know that you are unhappy. You also know what good things are there. The bad and good things at the new job are all hypothetical right now, whereas they are real at the old job.

If you want to stay, doing exactly what you have been doing, dealing with the exact same problems day after day, by all means stay. Just know that it will not get any better. There is no chance for improvement there (unless you get new bosses). But, with the new job? More money? Potential for better environment? I'd go for it.

Have a workplace dilemma? Send your questions to

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