In my last post, Planning to Quit? I addressed the current loosening of work forces as we drift away from the wake of the Great Recession. More and more employers are being caught off guard as employees are leaving after a long, hard Season of Discontent. This led a former newspaper colleague to ask, “Exactly when is it time to move on professionally?”
Great question. What keeps employees employed with a company is as wide-ranging as there are reasons to leave. From experience, most employees take the path of comfort. ” I just want a good job with good benefits where I can work until I retire.” They take the sure thing, the path of least resistance.
Many have learned the hard way that continued employment isn’t so sure anymore. Quite a few were tossed into unemployment lacking the skills needed for other jobs. This has caused those left behind to stay glued to companies with fear. What will/can I do anywhere else? This is all I’ve known? I’m staying as long as they’ll keep me! Are You a Keeper?
On the flip side, I’ve also seen some incredibly gifted employees provide phenomenal value for employers while the company culture was a train wreck. Wages were frozen, training and benefits reduced. Employees worked multiple jobs created by layoffs. In survival mode during economic downturns this is somewhat understandable. However, ambitious professionals eventually feel stuck and exploited. Before you know it, their motives become rooted in revenge (a dangerous path). They leap for the first bright light, lured by better pay, benefits, working conditions, and upward mobility.
The result can be a crash landing with carnage and chaotic consequences or an incredibly exciting flight into an even brighter future. There are no guarantees, but there are a few things to consider as you make your decision.
1. Have you had candid, honest discussions with your current boss about your career path and where it can or cannot take you with the company? If this is not possible because you fear you will be terminated for being ambitious, or because there are no succession plans, perhaps this is your first clue that this isn’t your final work destination.
No one should blame someone for professional advancement and growth. If the employer has done its job, there are other employees on hand, trained and ready to move up. Sadly, this is rare. If there are great employees worth keeping, their development and retention should be planned for and discussed with them regularly. Also rare. Middle managers are the gatekeepers of communication and morale and can feel pulled in both directions. Welcome to human resources!
2. If you feel push back from your superiors, it might be wise to start looking. As companies transition, grow new lines of business, and come under more regulation, needs and requirements change. This precipitates workforce change.
You can’t continue business in the same manner with the same people and reach the next level unless wise investment is made in your human resources. That investment can be in turnover and hiring costs or in training and developing the staff you have. Take your pick. Responsibility for professional development unfortunately now rests squarely on employees’ shoulders. They have no time or resources to devote to it.
3. If you are professionally fulfilled by your current job, feel challenged, and believe the company has a promising future, there is no reason to question your decision to stay put. Happy employees make productive employees. They speak well of their employers and encourage other happy, productive candidates into your workforce. They also promote the purchase and use of your product/service. One word of advice: learn as many roles and responsibilities as you can. The more you can do, the more valued you are. Period.
4. Finally, regardless of your current situation, employees should ALWAYS keep their resumes tuned up and ready should an opportunity, solicited or not, present itself. I am seeing more and more contented employees lured away because their work ethic, professional reputation and industry position warrant cherry-picking. If you are an employer, understand that this is happening more than you realize. If you are an employee, be ready with a current, branded resume that reflects your accomplishments and skills.
The four points above notwithstanding, the final check is what your gut is telling you. ALWAYS listen to your instincts. They are gifted to you for a reason and the best barometer for determining which way the wind is blowing.
What provides you the best opportunity for growth: taking flight or hunkering down? Blast Through the Barricades!
~ From the desk of Becky Morlok ~
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