Answer: Creating a formal grid to rule out the wrong jobs and listing cultural factors you thrive in are tools for making the best decisions. Here is more of Rebecca’s story as she and I decided how to help her succeed, when for the first time in her 25+ year history she was job hunting.
Rebecca’s career objectives became clear as we talked about her successes. That led to creating tools that unambiguously indicated jobs were simply wrong for her and not worth her time to explore.
She had worked very hard to prove herself deserving of a seat at the table when the leadership team, including the CEO, were formulating policy or company strategy. Her reporting lines tended to be through the head of marketing to the CEO. However, in situation after situation, her judgment and expertise earned her a direct channel to the CEO.
It was the quality of her thought process and ability to express herself in presentations that has shone through her history. Her organizational strength to combine resources to meet complex logistical challenges also made her a valuable leader.
The next job we agreed should be at the same level at least (and NOT a step down). It had to be an excellent move to fit her longer-term goals. Two of her non-negotiables which she now lists in her Decision-Making Grid are: “Does the job I am considering allow me to achieve the title of head of communications? Do I see myself potentially in this role until I retire by age 65?”
Practically speaking given her age in the late 40ties, she would only be able to make two more moves at the most to achieve those goals. Her next move would have to either be a stepping stone to one more job at that very high level or have the potential to rise to that level if she stayed with the organization. Given the volatility of the marketplace it would be highly unlikely but not impossible for the next move to be her last one until retirement. The hard fact is that she cannot accept a high-risk job if she only has those two moves to make. If she falls behind on a career track, given her age, she would not have any leeway for a redo.
Why did Rebecca interview for a job, when based on her career goals, she should have summarily rejected? I thought about how that could have happened. I believe she made assumptions about the culture and values that reflect the culture of her prior employers. She thought about how she had won support for upgrading her job and title by the excellence of her work. She had confidence in her ability to make the same impact. That confidence was misplaced. She cannot make those assumptions. Once she defines the cultures she thrives in, she needs to ask pointed questions as she explores new opportunities. Her decision to proceed or bow out of consideration should be based on the situation as it is.
The next posts will be the checklist and decision-making grids. Hopefully these tools will help eliminate indecision about not exploring opportunities that simply don’t fit. Here is a sampling of the issues to consider.
- COMPENSATION–This is a complicated issue, but with a limited number of years to vest, a generous bonus program and a smaller stock component might make more sense. No reduction in salary should be considered.
- MARKET FACTORS–Market competition for the company’s products and service may make for a high-risk situation. Is this product category volatile? Are consolidations possible?
- STAFFING VOLATILITY–What is the turnover at the leadership level? What is the history of the Communications role?
- SOPISTICATION OF THE ROLE—How sophisticated is the role? How important and relevant is it to the company? How well thought out is the job and the job description? Do you have confidence that you will be able to make a meaningful contribution to the organization?