For both individuals and organisations there can sometimes be a right time to go. A point where either the individual is no longer able to meet the organisation’s requirements. Or the individual outgrows what the organisation can offer. Failing to recognise this point can cause real problems for both parties.

The price to stay

Individuals are hired into organisations and roles at a point in time. If the recruitment process has been done well, the individual has the right skills, knowledge and behaviours to do a great job.

The challenge, over time, is that organisations and roles change. The role may get bigger. In fast growing organisations that change can be especially rapid. So rapid that some individuals can’t keep pace with the increased scale and complexity of the organisation. That’s what is often described as “the price to stay”. If you can’t keep up (or in other words “pay the price”) then the organisation will outgrow you.

Some individuals lack the appetite for personal growth. They don’t take advantage of training and development opportunities. Others don’t want the added pressure and/or demands of a bigger role and the potential implications that inevitably go with it – eg on work/life integration. And some don’t have the core competencies to grow. They’ve already reached the zenith of their capability.

All of a sudden, yesterday’s hero can become today’s “sea anchor” holding back change and/or growth because they simply can’t evolve at the same pace as the organisation. Once the gap between individual capability and organisational need reaches a certain point it can be time to go.

The price to retain

The reverse situation can apply too. The individual’s desire for growth being held back by an organisation’s failure to offer new challenges and fresh opportunities.

Some organisations only focus on developing people to do their current role. Once you reach the right level of skill, and deliver great results, they don’t see any further development need. The problem with that is the obvious frustration that will follow for an ambitious, career-centred individual. The “price to retain” being the cost (in time and money) involved in developing an individual beyond the needs of their immediate role.

The challenge, of course, is that eventually no amount of training or development will satisfy the desire of the individual for a bigger and more demanding role. Some larger organisations have the capacity, and resources, to create roles specifically to retain high potential individuals. Often holding positions until the right permanent role becomes vacant.

When desire for personal growth exceeds organisational ability to provide opportunity, it can also be the right time to go.

Where coaching can help

In situations where an individual is falling behind the needs of the organisation, coaching can help in several ways. That can start with situational awareness. Sometimes individuals just don’t recognise how far they have fallen behind the pace. They are doing nothing different than they were say three years ago – when their appraisal told them they were a hero. Coaching can open their eyes to the new demands and explore the development challenges to “catch up”.

A new sense of reality can also open the path to constructive discussions about moving to a role where their hero status can be restored. That might mean accepting a sideways or even downwards move. Or perhaps accepting that a new role will be brought in above them. In our experience, individuals often respond very positively to this type of career reset – provided it is done in a safe and constructive way.

Offering career coaching support, even if there is no obvious promotion path in the organisation, can win you valuable time. Our exit interview work tells us that organisational silence over career development often drives individuals to look elsewhere. Just making it clear you want to help the individual could buy you another year or two of commitment. And delay a costly and time consuming recruitment process.

Those conversations often result in constructive ideas that may even help retain the individual long term. The answer isn’t always promotion. For example, the opportunity to undertake challenging projects or secondments can work just as well.

And if the ultimate decision – by either party, or both – is that it really is time to go then a constructive exit path can be agreed. One that gives everyone the chance to part in a positive way.

Chiumento can help

We offer a wide range of scenario based coaching interventions designed to help both individuals and organisations. Get in touch to find out more.