One of the unexpected products of some of the networking I’ve done these past several months is that it’s afforded me the tremendous opportunity to meet with many interesting people across the HR functional space who are passionate about their jobs.
…I’ve also met a lot of people who are very frustrated. These people want to leave their companies, and often are only still there because they aren’t sure of exactly how to leave.
I am by nature a problem solver. When I get frustrated at work – or in any other arena – my first instinct is to dig in my heels, lean into the challenge, and look for a solution. The last option I consider is quitting. This line of thinking on my part is almost never governed by misplaced loyalty or inborn stubbornness, either. I’ve simply observed that if something is a problem for me, it is also often a problem for others as well. Ergo, if I can address an issue that negatively impacts my life, in the process I can often improve that situation for 1. When you are a leader you can’t just make things about you. It has to be about everybody. If your people sense that you aren’t invested in them (and are instead only invested in yourself) they won’t work hard for you. They’ll do just enough to get by – and that’s not good for the bottom line or retention.others across the enterprise. 1
With that said, of the many reasons I commonly hear for why people want to leave their companies – their boss, money, location, work-life balance etc. – there is one that I view as a fundamentally compelling reason to jump ship regardless of how well everything else is going:
An undefined career path.
If someone tells me they have no idea of what the next step in their career might look like (and no one in the organization who can help them develop a better understanding here) then it probably *is* time for them to move on.
People need to feel like they are working towards something. If there isn’t a carrot of some sort at the end of the obstacle course an employee has limited incentive to jump through hoops.
To be fair, there are numerous intrinsic rewards that also create incentives for people – and not everyone wants continued advancement. Some people are just happy where they are.
As a general rule of thumb, however, your employees should have a sense of what the next job up is – and how they can get there. Some organizations are relatively flat and think they can’t build progression into the organizational structure, but this isn’t true. A promotion doesn’t have to mean increased span of control. A promotion can come with small increases in the complexity and scope of one’s job, as well as with learning new skills that add value to the 2. I have an organizational structure theory that I want to write more about in the near future.organization. 2 This doesn’t need to lead to salary creep if done well, either. By understanding the market rate(s) for work being done across the enterprise and regularly updating pay grades, regular progression can be built into the structure without having employees quickly hit pay caps.
…I’m floating into a technical space now (not the purpose of today’s post), so I want to wrap things here.
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