Have you passed your “Best Before” date?

Posted August 28, 2014 in Career Management, Latest News & Insights

Years ago I had a coaching client – Alex – who didn’t like his boss, peers or direct reports. And guess what, none of them liked him either. His abrasive and confrontational style ensured he’d never be promoted or offered a lateral move. “No one will take him” his boss told me privately. And yet, here he was, forced to participate in the company wide leadership development program. Alex was long passed his “best before” date.

Companies spend huge dollars trying to “attract, develop and retain” their talent. And yet, all of us have a lifecycle. You change. Your role changes. Your boss changes. Your life changes. A point comes when it’s just time to move on. If we just added “RELEASE” as the final step in that talent funnel and became completely transparent about it, I think we’d all be further ahead.

I’ve reached my bb date many times. The most impactful was several years ago when a family tragedy changed my life. Suddenly I had new home responsibilities and a shifted worldview that changed how I felt about my work. Yes I was still productive but I no longer had the same passion. What I really wanted was a reduced work week with a pay cut while I sorted through my new reality – a transparent “Release” strategy. Instead, I privately created my own and ultimately surprised everyone with my resignation several months later.

My time with Alex was interesting. Sure, he gained some insights and promised to do better. His boss assured him of his ongoing support. But we all knew Alex was “done” and any changes would be at best temporary. A much better investment would have been to use this time to plan an orderly transition and coach Alex’s boss on how to maximize his productivity during the transition. “Conscious Uncoupling” corporate style.

So how do you know if you’ve reached yours? Here’s a quick test.

  1. Do you like what you do?
  2. Do you like and respect your colleagues?
  3. Do you respect your boss? (Liking is good….but I’ve found “respect” is the real driver)
  4. Do your values align with your company’s?

If you answered “no” to any one of these, you’re getting close to your “date.” Any more than that, and you’ve reached it!

The best part of discovering your “best before” is you can reset it. Move onto to something new and instantly you recapture the passion and excitement that makes you excellent. No one expects to work at one organization their whole career. So let’s just start being transparent about it and plan it in. I’ve just reset mine!

This post is contributed by Dr. Brenda Marshall who is a Facilitator for the Roundtable for Leaders program, Executive Coach and heads up our Research Practice.

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