The recent news about newly crowned Formula One world champion, Nico Rosberg announcing his retirement within five days of winning the world title sent shockwaves across the racing circuit. At the age of 31, he had bright prospects and could have won many more championships. He was definitely at the peak of his career, yet he chose to sign off on a winning note. Quite disparaging, one may think; but a careful relook at his decision somehow justifies his move. Being at the peak necessarily translates into a future where a slide is sure shot. Someday in some race he will not be a winner. It is an individual’s choice whether to wait for that moment of loss or choose today’s glory to gracefully retire.
I have noticed a remarkable resemblance to such turn of events in the common work life. Every year during appraisal time, employees go all out to ensure that their achievements are accurately captured. There are multiple discussions, meetings and at times even arguments with reporting managers. It is understandable that if employees are not satisfied with the outcome, there is a tendency to look out and eventually move out if circumstances are compelling enough. What has intrigued me is that very often, high performers or promoted employees also resign within a few days of their big day in office.
For employees who have been at their peak in one organization and experienced the associated limelight, the collective chorus is “Don’t wait for the slide”
A promotion or high-performance rating is accorded to selected employees to enable career advancement within the organization. It is also a mechanism to grow in-house talent for mid-management and leadership roles. With promotion or high rating come higher responsibility, better exposure and bigger pay and perks. Yet increasingly employees overlook these and shed the comfort of their existing company to battle it out in their next job. Isn’t that contrary to normal expectations and doubles up as a loss for the employee? This is what was usually concluded till I questioned a few colleagues and friends (referred to as ‘respondents’ for convenience) who made this move after this year’s appraisal. Some striking views came to the fore:
At the Top - All respondents uniformly disclosed that they had been at the top of their careers in their respective organizations. They had set very high standards that year. In the coming year, their performance benchmarks would be raised and they would be under tremendous pressure to retain their ratings. Just like Rosberg, they wanted to avoid the ignominy of second position or anything short of the peak. They wanted to leave the company while being at the top.
Ample Time to Choose New Job - After the current promotion, it would be some time before their next promotion. Even the next appraisal cycle was on an average ten months away. The respondents had ample time to look out and select the next job as per their suitability. In other words, there was no stress or anxiety on them to take up the very next available job. New jobs taken up in a hurry usually impaired their ability to search and zero in on a job of their choice.
Double Promotion - The promotion criterion in most organizations requires display of attributes applicable to the higher designation. Hence, the respondents believed they were already equipped to handle the responsibilities and requirements of the higher designation. They were excited at the prospect of making a further leap to the next level. Who does not like a double promotion, they quipped cheekily!
Return is Win-Win Situation - If the respondents ever decided in future to come back, they would be able to do so with their heads held high based on their excellent last appraisal in that company. It could even be a good reason for the former employer to seek them out! Rejoining a known environment with much enhanced designation and financial benefits is certainly a win-win situation.
Just as Rosberg said while announcing his retirement, "I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right", for employees who have been at their peak in one organization and experienced the associated limelight, the collective chorus is “Don’t wait for the slide”.