When an Employee’s Plans for Growth Mean Moving On

You want to encourage your employees to develop their skills and achieve their dreams. You probably have great team members that make valuable contributions on a daily basis. What happens, though, when what they ultimately want to achieve doesn’t include working at your company in the long run? Your first instinct might be to give the person notice, but don’t jump to conclusions. You have more options

You may find yourself in middle of a goal-setting conversation with an employee and suddenly learn that the person has a life-long dream of being a teacher. The person may even have taken steps towards reaching that goal. How do you handle a situation like this? It can be very disappointing to learn that you’re going to learn a valuable employee down the road. First of all, it’s unlikely that you’re going to talk someone out of a lifelong dream. You shouldn’t even try. You can let the person know that he or she is a valued member of the team but that you understand.

If team members are working towards long-term goals, remember, you won’t be losing them immediately. It may take a few years to achieve the training or degrees necessary to make a career change. As long as outside education doesn’t interfere with day-to-day work, the individual can still make a significant contribution for the next few years. Don’t write the person off as lost right away. While you won’t want to set the person up for promotion, you can keep him or her in the current position. Let the employee know you’d like to keep him or her on the team for the short term and check to see if this works for the employee. If so, you can work together for the near future. After all, many employees leave during a two or three-year time period. It makes little sense to drive a strong contributor out over long-term plans.

Sometimes, the employee has long-term goals and thinks that the only way to achieve them is to go outside the company. Listen carefully to the person’s ideas and make sure there isn’t a way to keep the individual inside the company in a different role. If worker is especially talented, this will benefit everyone. This isn’t an unusual circumstance.

Sometimes, people take entry-level jobs in a company, such as call center representatives, processing positions, administrative jobs and other such positions and assume that’s the only type of job they are eligible for in the corporation. Often, this isn’t the case. The company has needs for a wide range of workers including attorneys, graphic designers, managers, writers, salespeople, corporate communication professionals and many, many more employees.

33774409_sThe best and most loyal employees are trained in-house. If you can find a career path for employees that fits with their long-term goals, you have an exciting opportunity on your hands. Often, corporations offer education assistance that will allow employees to earn certificates and degrees. Typically, they have to agree to work for the company for a certain amount of time after the company pays for the degree. Then, they can move into a new and exciting challenge within the company.

You can help facilitate this move for the employees by connecting them with a human resources representative who can walk them through their educational options. You can also help find mentors in the fields that interest employees. This will help them understand the career paths that are available within the company. Employees are often surprised at what they can achieve within the corporation. Though the person may not work for your team anymore, you’ll have retained a valuable person within the company. That person can also be an ally for you down the road since you’ve helped him or her with career advancement.

There will be some cases when the employee wants to change jobs right away and there isn’t much you can do about it. In these situations, it’s probably best to cut ties before you invest more training and development in the person. If an unsatisfied employee sticks around too long, he or she could get frustrated and spread discontent in the office. You can’t change a person’s desires so it’s best to cut your losses and find a better match for the job.