Career Transitions – Weekend Reflections for Leaders

Our newsfeeds are full these days with stories about the Great Resignation and the rising interest of a side-hustle career on the path towards a more entrepreneurial minded professional journey. The reality of our present time is that for all of us, we need to be considering and expecting a variety of transitions in our career journey. The dream of generations before us of working for one company (“a great company with wonderful benefits”) for our entire career is no longer a practical reality and it may even be a major hinderance on our professional growth and marketability during difficult economic times.

Having led several downsizings and restructurings within a “great company with wonderful benefits,” I have come to realize that the appropriate question is not “if” tough times come, the appropriate question is “when” tough times will come. We have to personally be prepared to answer the question of “Am I ready?” for those tough times. The marketplace is becoming more uncertain, complicated, and intense. We need to accelerate the development of skills needed to lead our teams and guide our personal career journey in order to remain relevant and survive.

As we continue to work on building and strengthening our leadership, one of the considerations we need to think through is, “When is the right time for me to make a change in my career path?” Having been through a few transitions myself and guided some close friends through a few transitions as well, I have come to appreciate a few tell-tale signs that it is time to make a change.

Below are a few signs to consider within your own personal career journey. These signs are not intended to be clearly seen over a few short months, but more like observations over several years along a career journey.  

  1. We have stopped learning and growing. When we reach that point where the day-to-day work becomes an efficient process and we find ourselves being relaxed and comfortable more days than being a bit concerned that “I need to pick up the pace or else…”
  2. When our company has limited opportunities for new experiences and new roles. This can come about through headwinds over time from external events, but more practically speaking, this can come about from a company’s talent management process that values you gaining more functional expertise vs. cross-functional expertise or when you realize that you just don’t have enough internal support to secure that next great assignment because of an abundance of talent in the company or when there are just very few great assignments given the long term performance of the company.  
  3. When our company leadership seems to be more determined to support the current operating model vs demonstrating a willingness to embrace the accelerated pace of change in the marketplace. When leadership seems to be “riding out the storm until retirement,” we run the risk of us personally being “Amazoned” out of existence.  

As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, we must be intentional about taking steps to ensure we have the skills and experiences necessary to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace.    

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