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Posted: September 05, 2012

In jobland, the grass isn’t always greener

Sometimes you don't know what you've got till it's gone

Steve Ziegler

In my line of work, I hear a lot about people who want to make the next big career move or are just plain fed up with their current job or boss.  I also have the opportunity to talk regularly with business owners who are frustrated with their staff or a particular employee in the company.  These days it seems people are all too ready to jump ship and set sail to the next more promising opportunity or situation, which frankly, is often just a mirage.  I’ve heard and seen a great deal of people leave their current company or terminate an existing employee and then regret the decision all together because they didn’t find what they expected on the other side. 

Employees are often too afraid to talk openly about issues with their employer -- fearful of hurting themselves, someone else or getting fired if they speak up.   Likewise, employers can be quick to judge an employee on the surface or circumvent important conversations about performance, cultural fit or communication issues that could have ultimately helped rebound a challenging employee-employer relationship.

In my experience, it’s critical to seriously deliberate before you make the decision of letting an employee go or leaping into the hunt for the next big job.  The grass isn't always greener. 

Here are a few considerations for both employees and employers before parting ways:

Employees:
• What are you attempting to accomplish with this move? What is your motivation? Are you simply chasing a better compensation package? 
• Have you taken the time to focus on your role within the existing organization and what sort of direct impact you can make?
• Have you talked openly with your boss about your situation? Is it possible, that if your boss knew you wanted to leave, he or she could help with getting your career on track internally?  Or redirect your position internally to be more fulfilling? 
• Ultimately, if you must move on, have you identified a target list of companies you think you’d work well with?

Employers:
• Do you know what motivates every individual on your team?
• Do you know their career aspirations and goals?
• Have you communicated with your team and the specific employee about the situation to see if the relationship be salvaged if you set goals and communicate regularly?
• Are there important factors such as performance or other issues to consider?
• Will the employee leave a significant void in the team if terminated? How will the team react?
• How will you communicate the news of the potential termination to other employees?
• Do we have the proper systems in place to make a smooth transition?
• How much will you have to invest to hire and train a replacement? Will you need to increase the salary requirements to fill the position?
• Do you need to take a good look at your corporate culture or consider any adjustments prior to making a decision?

There’s a lot to be said for creating and maintaining a company’s corporate culture and hiring and keeping those who share the same values, attitudes and beliefs.  Employers should rank cultural fit as a top priority when evaluating employees or considering letting someone go – for the sake of both parties – and the health of the entire organization.  Employees should also make sure their values align with those of their current employer when wrestling with the decision of should I stay or should I go.  If your values don’t align then talk it out. Open, direct and honest communication is a critical before making any permanent decisions.  If you still agree it’s not a fit then see what else is out there.  You may find that looking for a new job or employee makes you appreciate the one you have.

Steve is co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Triworth, a Denver-based nationwide talent acquisition firm focused on recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), middle management and executive search.  Contact Steve at SZiegler@triworth.com or 303.344.4101.

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