Why do people leave good jobs in good organisations?

Why do people leave good jobs in good organisations?

It is not too difficult to define a good job but what looks like an ideal job from the outside may be very different from the inside. The same is true of organisations which to the outsider may seem ideal but with insider knowledge tell a different story. However, it might have more to do with the persona of the person!

The ways in which people approach their career can be classified into a number of different personas.

The lifer’s first job is their last. Although they might not have chosen their first job judiciously, or with foresight, they settled down for life. Whilst this may be an excellent strategy if one is in a company on the move, it is more likely to be a trade-off of high risk/gain over security. Further, downsizing and restructuring has left them not very employable. Lifers are loyal, but they are risk-averse, and liable to be alienated as performance management systems replace seniority-based or service ideologies. In the old days you got rewarded by loyalty from the business but now you are seen as rather sad.

Drifters are the very opposite of Lifers and may seem rather directionless and unambitious. Some may not be able to hold down a job for any period of time, but tend to be flexible and adaptable as they frequently take on new jobs. Drifters can be seen by some people to be capricious, fickle, or even reckless, but more positively, they are adventurous and experimental. Life, they insist, is too short to remain in the same job as they opportunistically grab at things that float by.

Hoppers look like snakes and ladders experts. They seem to go up short ladders quite quickly but slide down slippery snakes as they change jobs in the search for betterment. They lack the long-term vision of the planner, who has the whole journey mapped out. They may have made job move decisions too quickly, based on too little data. Some whole industries encourage hopping, as the only way you get up the ladder is to hop from one similar organisation to the next.

Planners have clear targets and can articulate where they want to be at the big milestones of life (aged 40, 55 or 60). They may even cultivate head-hunters, apply for jobs on a regular basis, and update their CVs quarterly. Planners are committed to their career development and understand the modern world of portfolio management. They have a plan: five years here, two years there, and a map, a destination and a travel plan.

Hobbyists are masters of this strategy. Some are SOBOs – Shoved Out, but Better Off – but many, often in their 40s, become concerned with self-development. The hobbyist may take early retirement, turn to consultancy, or simply define quality of life as more important than the rat race. This makes them interesting people, but not always deeply committed to the company’s interest. Work is a hobby for these people.