Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Yourself Hard Questions



As social workers, it can be so hard to leave our jobs – even when they become toxic.

We rationalize that our clients need us or we don’t want to put extra work on our colleagues or the commute is short or it’s not bad all the time and whatever else we come up with to justify staying in a job that no longer serves us.

Social work will have us believe that our clients are more important than we are but the truth is, you can’t give your clients the best service if you are overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated.

Savior complex, fear, unhealthy attachment, and defeat will cause you to wait for “the perfect time” to resign. There is never going to be a perfect time. NEVER! So, plan your escape.

My dear competent, ethical, passionate social worker, ask yourself if you are currently doing your best work. Ask yourself if your job is still serving you. Ask yourself why you are staying for “them” instead of leaving for you. Your clients deserve the best and so do you.

As you develop your exit strategy:

  1. Document your processes – I am a fan of documenting processes, not just because of my integrity but because I like to take vacations, and someone needs to know how things work in my absence. I am not the person who withholds information so that an agency fails.
  2. Create a transition plan – At my big age, I now start documenting processes and planning my transition from day one. This allows me to look at the big picture, not just my role and delegate the things that someone else can do. I am not concerned with looking busy, being replaceable (because we all are) or controlling everything. I want you to be able to get along without me.
  3. Be a resource – I am a fan of proper termination with clients, staff and partners (when appropriate). Be a resource through the transition and beyond if safe, reasonable, and appreciated.

If you are ready to give yourself your best, let me assist you on your journey to your next. Schedule a 15-minute consultation today.


Nicki Sanders, MSW, supports high-performing women of color in social work leadership in developing careers that feed their hearts, minds, and wallets. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams, volunteer recruitment and retention, and social impact programming. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.

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