OK, so I have too much time on my hands today. My dogs are not bugging me to play or pet them, so I decided to write something.
Why do people leave their jobs? The job that they fought hard to get, to grow in and prove themselves at?
I keep reading stuff like “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”. While there’s some element of truth to it, I think it is still too generic a statement.
I have interviewed and hired more people than I can count. And every time, I have heard various versions of answers to this question “Why are you leaving your job”. I bet exit interviews held by HR departments have various versions of this as well.
I can speak for myself.. and only surmise about the rest.
Looking back at my own career.. why did I leave when I did?
Sure, at one point, I realized that I had 9 bosses in 8 years.. each year, I had to get used to the way my new boss works, the way they wanted me to work and how they needed my help to achieve their MBOs/targets.
Each year, I had to start proving myself to my boss, get to the point where he/she would trust me .. and then they would be gone..
… but I could have dealt with that as well.
I noticed a pattern in my own career.. I always stayed at a job and a boss (good or bad) as long as I was growing.. as long as I was learning something new, as long as I was getting stronger as a professional..
Technology had always been part of my career and technology changes all the time.. so I didn’t really care about how many new technologies I was learning.. because it was the easy part.. I stayed at jobs as long as the company let me take on new responsibilities.. responsibilities that stretched me thin and forced me to grow.. Responsibilities that I had no clue how to execute but had to figure out fast..
I looked even further into my life.. I had been on stage and camera my entire life.. as an actor, singer, musician.. Those were my true passions.. so why did I give them up?
For as long as I could remember, I had been in a band.. on bass and vocals.. but as I got older, I started appreciating more complicated music.. in other words, I wanted to play complicated classical pieces for the electric world.. i.e the neoclassical movement.
As I hopped from one band to another.. I was never satisfied.. because no one wanted to play that.. because it was not popular.. I finally stopped playing in bands altogether.. Why? Because I could not play yet another cover of pink floyd anymore.. I was not growing. It wasn’t stretching my musical muscles.. I could fall asleep while playing those songs.
I have been an actor and have been on stage for my entire life.. so why did I give that up even though I was fulfilling my dream of performing in NYC? I held my full time job and still managed to go for nightly rehearsals and evening performances.. I slogged until I got to NYC, went to countless auditions, stood in line for hours, finally landed an agent, went to auditions, booked several gigs, got paid handsomely..
So why give it all up?
I was not getting the roles I wanted. I was being stereotyped into roles that are typical for “Indians in America”. Even when I was not typecast like that.. I would get roles that I didn’t want.
Simba in Lion King.. but I wanted to play Scar
Othello .. but I wanted to play Iago
I simply would not grow as these roles would not stretch me in any way.. and I guess the casting directors did not want to risk their production by casting me for those roles..
So I just stopped.
While selling software + services.. I could pull in quarter million without doing anything and another quarter by putting in some effort.. but it would not have stretched me in any way whatsoever. But I left those jobs anyway..
All because I needed to grow, needed to learn, needed to be pushed by my managers.
As I grew my consultancy, I, of course, could not compete with the salaries that larger firms paid.. I could not compete with the amenities that other firms provided.. I could not compete with the “career growth” potential that larger firms gave.. But what I could provide were challenges to stretch an individual .. as a small firm, you are always wearing 20 different hats anyway.. I could have my staff wear some of those hats as well..
The ones that enjoyed growing that way – stayed. The ones that wanted a more structured environment – left.
So, is that what keeps employees in your employ? Is that why people quit?
We better find out sooner than later.
We better find out if our employees are happy, if they feel challenged, if they feel that they are growing.. find out what they think is “growth”.
Growth for someone might be learning new technologies..
Growth for someone might be taking on new business processes..
Growth for someone might be people management..
Growth for someone might be moving into an R&D role vs being in a delivery role..
Growth for someone might be sales..
Growth for someone might be.. well, you get the idea..
Isn’t our job as managers/leaders to help younger folks grow into our roles so we can take on the next challenge?