Many of us have a sense that something may be off. That is, we may be tracking off-course, or that we may not even be on the right track anymore. As a result, many of us are considering whether we need to pivot.
Given the desperate need for good talent and the high cost of employee turnover in today’s job market, this is a scary proposition for many employers. It shouldn’t be, however, if they are seeking to truly engage and develop their employees.
The fact is, some form of “pivoting” is the only way to avoid a decline. Even if we know we are on the right track, we need to continuously pivot to progress and refresh along the way. Individuals who understand growth cycles, work-life seasons, and what is means to live a full life will be positioned to enjoy continued growth and success at the office and beyond. When top talent has the choice to stay, be engaged, and grow, employers will be more apt to embrace cycles and design strategies to support that demand, and create opportunities for growth.
Cycles Within the Cycle
Just like cell regeneration patterns and planetary movements, as humans, we have growth changes within our overall career life cycles. Over the course of my 24-years as a professional engineer, there were several sets of “learning and development”, “growth”, and “peaking” stages at each level of career advancement. My movement from project engineer to project manager to principal to senior executive to “what’s next” were clearly marked in 5-year increments. Each cycle along the path was critical to keeping me moving forward.
“Knowing exactly when to begin the pivot or refresh process requires the knowledge of cycles, vision of where you want to be, and the courage to act.”
-Peter C. Atherton
The Personal Refresh
High-achievers, in general, follow a similar pattern of continuous growth through a series of advancements. Traditional leaders and organizations encourage and endorse this. However, especially today when is it clear that top talent wants more than just traditional success, this approach is short-sighted. Once we’ve “mastered our craft” and “made our name,” pure professional pursuits begin to lose luster, even for the most driven employees. Many successful professionals and business owners with 15 or more years of experience are feeling discontented, burned-out, and disengaged with business as usual.
Personal career stagnation can occur and a “personal refresh” needed, even when their organization has taken intentional steps to improve workflow and culture, . This reset is needed personal growth and development that provides balance for our professional success. Once refreshed, we are in a position to regain perspective on both our lives and careers. Only then can we begin to develop a plan for continued and sustained success. That success could be continuing on our current path, refreshing in place, or pivoting in a new direction. Without some form of continuous personal growth and development (or at least mid-career reboot), we are likely to realize the fate of most senior staffers and leaders in terms of losing emotional intelligence.
Regaining and maintaining our self and overall personal awareness is key to our overall professional growth and effectiveness.
The process of a refresh or a pivot is just that – a process. The optimal time for either option is during the later portions of a growth phase. The goal is to continually push off the peaking and decline stages as illustrated in the graph below.
This is a process. To get through it, I needed a time-out with patience, support and tough love. Allowing myself this opportunity, helped me to understand where my professional and personal interests and passions intersected. Ultimately, it pushed me to design a pivot from a comfortable and lucrative career I could have coasted in for decades. This process is ideally done with the aid of an experienced coach, one who can guide you through the various steps and customize them for your unique career path, personal situation, and work-life seasons. You can view some tips for starting your refresh on my blog as well.
This article originally appeared on ActionsProve