Time for a change

Remember my post just two weeks ago about how my changing role wasn’t balancing my ability, motivation, and opportunity? And me asking “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” last month, regarding my wistful desire to make a big career change, but lacking the courage?

Well, sometimes life has a way of making hard decisions for you.

Last week I spoke with my manager and our Human Resources representative, and we all agree that the role I came to this team to do is no longer here. It’s time for me to move on.

This isn’t really a surprise. My manager took over the team in December, and I was shifted to report to her in March… And for most of that time, I’ve been telling her that the direction that she’s looking to take our team is a pretty significant shift from the vision of the leader who first formed the team two years ago.

That’s not a criticism — the multi-year program that our team supports is in a significantly different place now than it was when we were planning it out years ago, and the needs of the group we support have evolved over time — but it does mean that many of the individuals hired for this team came with skills and backgrounds that aren’t aligned well to what we’re doing now.

I’m a prime example — I joined the team with a background in what I call “warm hug, touchy-feely, HR-ish, don’t-you-love-your-job, let’s-help-you-perform-better, let’s-get-you-that-promotion-you’ve-been-looking-for” kind of work. In professional lingo, we might call that “employee experience and engagement, learning and leadership development, talent and career management” but I like my version better.

Over time my work has shifted farther and farther away from that, to where I’m now doing more traditional change/project management that is much more focused on technology change impacts than on employee perceptions and careers. That’s important work, to be sure — it’s just not the work that I want to be doing, or work that my skills and experience will help me really exceed expectations on without a pretty significant learning curve.

I’ve been very candid with my manager (and have truly appreciated her openness to that level of candor) and have expressed clearly that me being aligned to this work is causing me to perform at less than my best, while distracting other teammates from their best work because they have to coach and support me.

Apparently my cautions did not fall on deaf ears… In a little while, I will be officially out of a job. But given the way it’s all worked out, I’m remarkably calm about it.

My boss has been very clear that this isn’t about me not being a good employee, or me not having valuable skills and a lot to offer. It’s just that the team is focusing on different things, and some roles (including mine) aren’t really part of the future services that it’s going to be offering. It’s definitely reassuring to know that I’m leaving this team on good terms and with a strong supporter in my soon-to-be-former manager.

So what’s next? Well, my employer is treating me very well during this transition. Right now my primary responsibility is to look for a new job within the company, while doing a very small amount of “wrapping up” the work I was doing and handing it off to other people.

If no good opportunities come up in-house in the near future, it may be time to start looking for a job outside the company. But either way, my manager and our Human Resources representative have been very encouraging and right there by my side to find the best fit for me. They’re confident that I will do great things very shortly, in a job at this company that better aligns to my skills and my career path.

I hope they’re right. But just in case, I suppose I’d better start keeping an eye out for opportunities both internal and external. So hey, if your company is in NYC and you’ve always wanted to work with me, keep me in mind, eh?

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