At one point in my life, I was set to get married. I guess I should back up to explain better. I am married and I have three kids – Amazing, Amazing 2 and Amazing 3 (and all are that way due to Queen Amazing). What I mean to say is that at one point in my life, I was set on marrying someone else. I started looking at rings. I thought through how I would ask her. I dropped hints in conversation with her father. I had dated this young lady for two years.
And yet, it didn’t happen. We talked. We realized that we weren’t where we thought we were. It was awful. I felt a bit like Lloyd Dobler – “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” Moving on was the right call, however. Last I heard she was married. Me, too. Good for her.
Moving on is a difficult decision. As business professionals, how do we determine if it’s time to move on? I don’t mean just for ourselves, but for those on our teams, too. For some employees it is easy to see. Obnoxious behavior mixed with poor work performance. SEE YA! It is a simple conversation. For others, it might be a matter of observation of their buy-in, their spirit, their passion. Has all of that waned? Is it being forced? Are the conversations less fun, only business? The work might be getting done, but the heart is no longer connected? Tough call, right?
Surely, the first measure is to have an honest conversation with that person. Ask good questions about satisfaction, purpose, connection, environment. Draw out perspective and emotion. Many of our teammates want to be asked. The first couple of minutes may be awkward but plow through it. The fruit of such conversations can alter the fabric of the company. And sometimes, a trip to Mood is warranted (yes, I watch Project Runway, so?).
However, let’s say that these conversations illicit none of the magic hoped for. What then? Go back to the job description. Is the person doing what he/she is to do? Does the job description accurately reflect the KSA’s needed? If collaboration, for example, is needed to do the work and it is not on the JD, then update it. This will allow for truer dialogue around the duties rather than just a sense of disconnect. Be mindful, though, to not make the JD too person-specific. If Joe usually makes the coffee for the office in the morning and he stops doing so, and you sense something is wrong, I wouldn’t change his JD to include coffee preparation (unless he is a Barista). Look only at the core duties for the role and what is needed to perform it well.
Sometimes, people need a conversation to cause them to “wake up” and look at how off track they’ve gotten. Sometimes, they need a more formal interaction to do that. And sometimes, it might lead to a new season for that person and for the company. Sometimes it’s very healthy for someone to move on, even if they’ve been a decent employee for a while. Maybe they’ve hit a ceiling and the challenges are few and far between. Maybe they are at the max for compensation and that takes them down a peg or two. Maybe they’ve just grown apart from the role. It happens.
A word to my HR peeps…this applies to you, too. Some of you need to leave where you are working. Rough, right? But I am serious. You’re too settled, too cranky, too blasé, too distant. Do a self-check, but also ask for feedback from those who know and work with you. Staying with a job because you make good money is not helping the company. Our role is to encourage health and growth within the organizations we serve. If what we’re modeling is more of a “put my time in” kind of attitude, then we shoot ourselves in the foot. Trust that your skill sets and aptitudes will open doors elsewhere for you; they can take you to a new challenge where passion and joy return. Love your company enough to go.
And if you're not ready to go yet, then use the self-assessment and feedback from others to put you back on track. Raise high the boom box and fight back!
One of my great loves in business is the “fire in your belly” that can grow. Time does not have to dampen this. Just because an HR pro or a CEO has been with one company for ten years does not establish some milestone that it’s time to go. There is a difference between time spent and time served. Follow?
Seasons change. There is no question. I am not in the same role I was in 20 years ago. I am not in the same role I was in 3 years ago. And I am not married to the person I almost married 20 years ago. As painful and scary as those seasons might be, they do change.