By Rose Miller
Who didn’t love Sinatra? Even if you didn’t grow up in his era of popularity, you probably still tap a toe or know a verse of “New York, New York” (not the Alicia Keyes/Jay Z version either).
But I can remember the last few years he was still performing on stage. It wasn’t the wisest choice. The voice was gone and the visual presentation not good. It can be painful to watch a person who is beyond their prime try to keep going well beyond the time to say goodbye.
I’m seeing the same thing in the business world. Both employers and employees who don’t want to admit it is their time to say goodbye. The problem has the same attributes to breaking up with an old lover. You keep at it, keep trying to make it work. You feel badly most of the time. Frowns replace smiles. A sense of emptiness replaces fulfillment.
Yet, sometimes it is better to leave things broken than to hurt yourself during the breakup. From the employers’ side, the end of a long-term relationship with his or her company seems incomprehensible. The person has invested everything into building the business- time, money, knowledge, and relationships were all built around the business. The owner’s identity is tied to the business and is inextricably wrapped in the connection.
For the employee, the person may not see any reason to do anything different. Some employees understand their time has passed yet see no good reason to stay other than the resistance to venture into the unknown. It can feel so much safer to do nothing.
How do we know when it’s time to move on? It’s when we find the courage to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that staying will do more harm than good.
For owners, signs can range from decreased sales, increased customer complaints and high turnover. We know a couple of owners who are failing in their core abilities. Business prospects question the company’s longevity beyond the leader. In some cases, everyone fears failing talents are becoming a danger to the public.
With failing employees, signs like frustration can be felt on every level. Management and fellow employees’ sympathies turn to resentment as mounting pressures surface. Everyone questions why the problem is left to continue.
Another sign is when all the person’s time and energy is spent navigating the stuff that they are doing wrong. That is the tipping point. The person’s fear and insecurity translate into additional paralysis or worse, acting out. In every case, staying on beyond the person’s welcome can leave them feeling depleted and defeated.
With any challenge, there is always a choice. Being self-aware, soliciting honest feedback and putting ego in check are good starts. There is no simple way of knowing when it’s time to move on. But there are the signs. And there is that small, knowing voice within that is telling them that something isn’t right. Choices become solutions and solutions are nothing to fear. In fact, they often bring on a sense of empowerment.
It’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea of letting go. But sometimes moving on can be the feel-good event that you have been needing. New beginnings can be energizing if you are open to new relationships and new opportunities.
You are the only one who can admit this to yourself. And you are the only one who can change your life for the better by finding the strength to walk away before you lose your voice.
By Rose Miller