“I don’t want to be someone in my sixties holding on to a group that I created when I was in my twenties.” — Zainab Salbi
Terry had been working at the same company for 7 years. It’s the classic “from the mailroom to the corner office”-story we’ve hear many times before.
Still, she wasn’t satisfied. She’d become a master of the paperwork and didn’t want to continue climbing that ladder.
Her eyes were set on making a move to marketing.
She made her intentions clear to her boss who said: “Sounds great! But not right now. We need you to stay here until the beginning of next year. Meanwhile, we’ll look for someone who can take over. Alright?”
The months came and went but Terry didn’t see any efforts to find a successor. She brought it up every other month or so. There were always a excuse for why they hadn’t found anyone.
Terry stayed on but told the boss that unless they found someone by the beginning of the summer, she’d simply go elsewhere.
Since there was only 3 months left, the matter suddenly became very urgent and her boss was very willing to negotiate. Provided she make a good argument for why this was the right move.
While her pitch was good and this was a step in the right direction, the boss didn’t feel having her work 100% with marketing would be to put her abilities to good use. He proposed she do 1/3 paperwork and the rest of the time with marketing.
Terry and I had a conversation about this and it became abundantly clear that this was an effort to appease her while still not allowing her to make the move completely.
Given her prior experiences there would undoubtedly be periods where her services were needed more at the corner office rather than in the marketing department. An emergency here, a “We’re swamped!” there.
The likelihood of this ending in Terry’s favor didn’t seem to be in the cards.
Terry went back and said that it’s all or nothing.
This was when the boss said something like: “Terry, you’re too good at this. Why don’t you see it? I can’t have you go to marketing full time when you’re doing such a great job here.”
What Terry had sensed hadn’t been made clear until now. There was no way for her to get what she wanted at the company.
Her only option was to move on.
This isn’t the practical option for everyone, but we need to understand that despite other people’s best intentions their actions can be horribly misguided.
Sometimes they end up stifling our growth. Sometimes they end up stifling their own growth.
Staying at a job or doing something simply because we’re “good at it” doesn’t mean that we’re doing anyone any favors.
We need to recognize that stepping away might be the best option in some cases. It can lead to the company finding someone who’s both good at the job and enjoys doing it.
Also, it frees us up to go looking for what we want somewhere else.
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