"Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit." - Conrad Hilton
In the early years of my professional life, I changed jobs about every 18 months. Sometimes the new job would be a transfer within the company, other times I went to a new company. While I did resign from my roles, I never felt that I “quit”.
I would start at a company with a directive to improve the operation. When that was accomplished, I would look for new challenges and opportunities. If I couldn’t find them in my current role, I would start looking elsewhere. I had one boss that understood my personality, and he kept expanding my responsibilities. I stayed at that company 4 years, 4 months and 4 days.
Growth – personal and professional – requires change and movement. Smart managers and smart companies recognize the need for growth, and assist their employees with their development. If you aren’t able to continue to grow in your current job, you owe it to yourself to look elsewhere.
As a manager and a consultant, I’ve assisted people with their professional development. The easy part is to help them acquire new skills or knowledge. Many of these people were just waiting for a teacher or mentor to show them what they didn’t know.
Applying what they learned in their existing roles, they maximized their performance. When possible, we would expand their role or their job description. However, sometimes organizational requirements limited what we could do. That’s when things became difficult.
Often, the best opportunity for the individual lay outside our department. There may be an opening in another department that better matched their new skills. Or, we would hear about another company with a job that would be a perfect fit. With some encouragement, the person would apply for, and sometimes be offered the position.
Now a new set of problems would emerge. Change is difficult, especially a career change. The person would hesitate about taking the new job. The three most common reasons for not moving on:
- the person didn’t want to let down their boss
- the person didn’t want to let down their coworkers or subordinates
- the person didn’t want to feel like they were quitting
As a manager, I appreciated the loyalty of the employees in my department. Knowing they were there to support me, and watch my back was essential to my success. It’s a great feeling to lead a team of people you can count on.
But it’s a better feeling to help a person grow. Even when it means letting that person leave your team. Yes, it will be difficult to replace a good performer and the team may suffer for a short time. But it’s worse to hold someone back. Not promoting growth will negatively impact everyone’s morale.
Similarly, my employees counted on my loyalty. They knew they had a manager who would be right with them, especially when things were tough. Together we would face the challenges, and together we would be successful.
However, my employees didn’t expect me to be there forever. They knew there would be a time when I would be moving on. My job was to lead them to the point where they didn’t need me, and they could succeed on their own. Or with another leader. Some members of my staff wanted to be that leader. Yet they couldn’t apply for the job if I didn’t leave. And by leaving, I provided another lesson in taking personal responsibility for your career.
I’ve also held jobs where I knew I wasn’t going to be successful. Either the environment or the management was not compatible with my skills, aptitude and attitude. It seemed no matter what I did, it was the wrong approach. So I would find a different job that would bring me to the next step in my development.
There was a fleeting thought that I had failed. Maybe if I had tried harder or worked longer, I could’ve been successful. Actually, I just would’ve been more frustrated and more tired. Frustrated and tired employees aren’t a benefit to any organization. My leaving was the best move for everyone involved.
Your personal and professional development is your responsibility. If you’re fortunate, you have a job and responsibilities that grow with you. However, in many cases, the best opportunities will be elsewhere. Seek out the best next step for you. And when you find it, take it.