Are We Done Yet? Knowing When to Move On...

blog Feb 28, 2016

Why do we stay in an unsatisfying job? Why do we continue to invest time and money in an under-performer?  Why do we continue to support low margin products?

It's not hard to find the usual line-up of excuses: "I need the income." / "Replacing that position will be hard." / "That product is a loss-leader and the sales guys love it." / "We still have key customers using that application."

Yet, most of the time when we leave the job, fire the employee and finally sunset the product, good things happen. So why are we such hangers-on?

Here's five questions to get your move-on:

Does the status-quo...

1. Fit with the strategy? Where is your business going and what's your plan to get there? Are you the right person to drive this strategy forward? Is your team the right match for the market, product and culture needs of your business? The strategic alignment of people, skills and products are distinguishing markers of today's most successful companies. If the shoe doesn't fit, it may be time to move on.

2. Attract the right customers? Do you view products and employee performance through the lens of your best customer? What kind of customers, provide the greatest volume of purchases, evangelize your company's brand, and cost the least in follow-up and implementation? What are the employee skills and attributes needed in each of your key positions to best attract and keep those customers? 

3. Cost more than it's worth? Do the math. How much are you spending to service that product? What's the revenue trend for the last 3 years? For the next 3 years? What else could you be doing with the time, effort and money you're spending to maintain yesterday's good idea? If the numbers don't tell a compelling story, do you have a strong answer to numbers #1 and #2.

4. Zig while the rest of the company is zagging? Outliers can be harbingers of great ideas. It's great to take the road less traveled if you've got insight to a new market or opportunity that your competitors don't see or can't serve. It's awesome to offer a next-big-thing product that customers didn't know they needed. It's not so great to be the human outlier in your organization. If you don't believe in the company's strategy, if the culture is a mis-match with your values or if you're strengths don't align with the skills required of your role, it's probably time to plan you're exit. This theory also applies to outlier products.

5. Produce stress and noise? Stress and noise are business killers. They rob you of agility, focus, and the ability to see opportunity. They numb you to risks that may be right in front of you. A competitor may be about to launch the next big disruptor in your sector, while you're swimming in hell and high water to service a dinosaur product or keep a high-needs employee from quitting. The same is true for each of us. If the job demands 24/7 vigilance, you're likely to miss the alternative universe of amazing things you could be doing with your career.

Time to move on. Tell your low performer she's just not a fit. Tell yourself the same if that's the truth. And put that outlier pet product to bed. 

Now take a deep breath and feel the winds of change blow fresh opportunity in your direction.

Barbara Shannon is a CEO coach and advisor to mid-market businesses. Her CEO peer groups, TheCEOBoard and ATHENA - The Peer Group for Exceptional Women Solopreneurs, provide high-performance direction, coaching and networking to a select collective of exceptional Bay Area business leaders. Barbara is a seeker of CEO clients who pair a holistic view of business, community, and family with a persistent drive for personal and professional growth.
If you're curious about Barbara's CEO groups or would like to inquire regarding elite private client service, please email [email protected]
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