Joe Montana. Ronnie Lott. Jerry Rice. What do they all have in commons besides being former players for the San Francisco 49ers? What do they have in common with Brett Favre? They all stayed too long in the NFL. In the case of Montana, Lott, and Rice, I was furious that the 49ers (obviously my favorite team at the time) were letting these Hall of Famers go. Yes, they were all past their prime, but they still had plenty of juice left in the tank. For players who had given so much to the success of that team – in Ronnie Lott’s case, he lost part of a finger – I just wanted them to retire there without donning another team’s uniform. They did go on to have modest success with other teams. In retrospect, I can see that while it was painful at the time, it may have been for the best, keeping the team from stagnation from aging.
In today’s economic environment and cultural norms of the workplace, it is no longer expected that you will work at one place until you reach retirement. With leadership constantly changing and priorities evolving, how do you know when it’s time to leave? Should you hold them, fold them or walk away? In my department, I have the 2nd longest tenure. When I initially started at my current place of employment, my intention was only to work here a year or until I finished graduate school. Instead, I’m seven years away from being able to retire with 25 years of service. During this time, I have seen many good colleagues come and go. In a few instances, I thought they were leaving too soon. (Maybe I just didn’t want them to go.) But, in retrospect, I’m wondering what they saw that I didn’t see at the time. In my conversations with some of them, I learned that some just wanted to do something slightly different and couldn’t foresee doing it here. They weren’t unhappy, just restless or itching for a change. For some, they were actually unhappy. Why were they unhappy? They are still working in the same career field and in some cases the same or similar job. So, the job itself wasn’t the reason. In a recent posting on Harvard Business Review – Reader’s Forum on LinkedIn, there was a discussion about the article, People don’t leave companies. They leave leaders!. In the case of some colleagues that left because they were unhappy, it was definitely a decision based on the leadership and/or leadership decisions made at the time. So, in those instances, leaving is an easy decision to make.
If you are happy with your current job, what are some reasons to pursue other opportunities to avoid staying too long as Montana, Lott, Rice and Favre did? Michael Strahan (NY Giants) and Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens) both retired after winning Super Bowl rings. Is achieving the ultimate goal a great time to leave? How do you know what that is in regular 9 to 5s? In 3 Signs You Should Definitely Quit Your Job, Forbes lists these three reasons to plan your exit strategy:
1. “It Just Isn’t Sustainable
2. It Isn’t Furthering Your Professional Development
3. Something Else (Way Better) Comes Along”
Mattson offers these eight reasons to help make that difficult decision to pursue other opportunities:
1. “Your relationship with your boss changed.
2. Work and life values are no longer being met.
3. You are left out of decision-making meetings.
4. You are not being asked to take on high-visibility assignments.
5. You are frustrated with the direction of the company and are more vocal than usual.
6. You find yourself awake at night with an anxious feeling, replaying conversations.
7. You are managing the political arena more than performing your job.
8. You are no longer passionate about your work and dread going to the office each day.”
Is this you? Can you think of other reasons someone should leave an employer? Post your comments below.