YOUR CAREER : Is it Time to Move On? – Five drivers of career change

The motivation to make career move can come from several directions – it could be the push from role gone stale, the pull of new challenge or the drive may be more to do with shift in lifestyle or family needs.
From my own experience with executives looking to make change, the reasons can be divided into five main categories: new challenges, lifestyle change, equity options, role that’s run its course, and ethical reasons.
The need for new challenges can include looking for new industries and sectors. There are times executives may consider moving to larger, multinational organisation to seek more strength. Some look to move in the opposite direction, escaping from corporate bureaucracy by shifting to smaller, possibly privately owned, enterprise. Others are driven by desire to ‘give back’ by moving into not-for-profit organisation or an enterprise with stronger possibilities for community service.
For those who want lifestyle change, the key drivers may be around working fewer hours or taking role which will allow them to engineer long weekends. change in location – such as moving from city to provincial location – could also be factor. Enquiries about opportunities in Australia continue to rise as the number of senior positions in New Zealand declines due to overseas acquisitions of New Zealand businesses and subsequent migration of head office positions.
Do not overlook this phenomenon. Recent personal tax changes in Australia will continue to drive this.
Another prompt is an executive’s desire for sense of ownership in what they’re doing. Many reach stage in their career when they wish to seek the opportunity for ‘real’ not ‘virtual’ ownership in the business they run. Though, in some instances, the reason for change is the opposite – such promised equity options have not been forthcoming.
It could also be that their existing role has simply run its course. Either there are no rungs left on the promotional ladder with their existing employer, or further job growth within their current role is limited.
Executives in this position are often faced with decision to move offshore though in most cases this is not preference. Any notable executive should have achieved the bulk of what they have set out to do within four-to-six year period. With this done it is possible and often advisable to leave behind worthwhile legacy and move on to new opportunities.
Sometimes executives’ capabilities or styles have evolved to point where they need new platform on which to fully express themselves. To move under such circumstances is positive for all parties.
Last but not least is when personal and organisational values clash. Few executives have any appetite for being implicated in unethical situations.

Only you can decide
There are some key criteria that most executives take into account when making decision to move on. These include family, personal values, motivators, autonomy, and success keys.
Changing family situations either free up options or dictate another direction. Many executives fail to take this into account, often being seduced by an opportunity which in the final analysis is not sustainable for family reasons.
Sometimes an organisation’s values may change due to acquisition or merger and an executive finds the clash not just uncomfortable but unlivable.
What motivates people changes over time. It’s important for executives to be in touch with what drives them and whether their current situation is the best provider of these critical motivators.
A sense of personal control is also important. Changes with your boss will sometimes see shift towards less autonomy. Senior executives demand increasing levels of empowerment as their knowledge and capabilities grow within an organisation – but it isn’t always forthcoming.
Any top senior executive will understand the hallmarks of their style, the approach that guarantees successful outcomes. Organisational situations will change so these may not be fully exploited. It is vital executives play to their strengths. They may also seek to make broader impact in their community, taking role which allows them to “give back”.

Things to watch out for
Many senior executives are so busy with day-to-day stuff, they rarely take stock of their personal position. They don’t see shifts in the operational environment which could negatively effect some of the criteria mentioned above. Executives should try to take time each year (some do this quarterly) to review their goals and honestly evaluate whether these can still be achieved in their current work situation. Sometimes it takes the call of head hunter to spur on this process. Mentors can also provide neutral reality/possibility check.
They say it is lonely at the top. Some executive dissatisfaction stems purely from operating in praise vacuum. Ensure you have an open relationship with your board. This will keep you appraised of your performance.
Try and give as much warning of your intention as possible. Consider including your PR agency in determining the message to go to market. And when you make the move, don’t forget to say thank your to your staff, clients and peers.

• Peter Harbidge is general manager Auckland of international recruitment and HR consultancy, Hudson. [email protected]

An accidental career path?
In retrospect Bryan Crawford reckons there’s no way he could have designed the career path that’s brought him, at age 46, to his current role as CEO of advertising agency FCB.
But each move in his executive progression from the brewing industry to advertising, via oil, media and the energy sector made lot of sense at the time – and there are some common threads running through all. These include love of change and an orientation toward people.
“You need to have degree of self awareness about what you’re looking for from your career and for me it’s always been breadth, diversity, new challenges, learning. I’ve always felt that when role starts to become repetitive and you get that sense of having done it all before, then it’s time to recognise you can’t do it too much longer before your performance starts suffering. So for me it’s about staying fresh – and that means throwing yourself into something new.”
That said, he believes that some skill sets – particularly those around leadership – are readily transferable across industries. For instance, his latest move, from CEO of listed energy company Natural Gas to FCB isn’t the big leap it might seem, says Crawford.
“I think once you progress in your career to point where you are drawing on leadership skills, as opposed to particular set of technical skills that you’ve developed inside specific sector, then those are very transferable.”
In sense, his latest move represents “coming home” to an area where his technical skills as marketer are possibly more relevant. That’s where he started, doing sales and brand management for Lion Nathan before taking up role as general manager corporate brands for Caltex, and, later, moving to ACP Media as sales and marketing director.
“You could say leaping into the energy sector was an odd thing for marketer to do. I had to be strongly convinced moving into that sector (in 2000) made sense. I’m glad I did because what it gave me was an opportunity to move away from what might be called traditional marketing into much broader areas of knowledge – including lots of opportunities for experience with mergers and acquisitions, governance etc.
“It was my doorway from being technical specialist as marketer into general management and ultimately CEO of major listed entity. So there was an enormous amount of positives I took from that experience.”
Although there are times in career when it pays to sit tight in one organisation or industry, Crawford reckons one of the saddest sights is someone mired in career stasis.
“I’ve come across people who are trapped in roles or in sectors and lose confidence in their ability t

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