When the Music Starts to Play

I always get a kick out of the awards shows. I do not watch them all that often, but when I do, I am fascinated by the dynamics. They have just awarded so and so superstar for being the best at what they do, and then they let them give a quick little speech.

But, once they start going over their allotted time, the music comes up in an attempt to drown them out. Sometimes the cue is readily taken, others, it is easily ignored. The message that I always take from the music is that it is time to move on. I know, earth-shattering right? However, it is more than that though.

What the producers are saying is that it is time for us to move on without you, there is money to be made, and right now, we are not going make that money by you staying too long in front of the microphone. So we will thank you to exit, stage left.

Let us take this a step further. In my career, I have seen this play out too many times in the workplace. I watch as someone rises up the ranks, does great work along the way. And then, they reach the end of the road of the yellow brick road that is their current level of competence. They have reached their level of ability. They are not viewed as someone who is going to take it to the next level. The have hit the ceiling of their career progression with that organization.

And the rest of us can hear the music start. It starts in a low soft chatter, and then it builds as we watch them attempt to make their way out of the trap that they are now in professionally.

The first sign that usually arises is when they apply for an in-line promotion. Also know to many as going out for the former job of their current boss who was either promoted, or departed. But, they do not get the nod. They hear about nine thousand reasons why. Most of which they have never heard before. But, there is always has to be a reason. Of course, what comes next is how much we value you right where you are now.

Here again is where the music builds; and it starts to get louder even quicker for them. They understand they have some options, so they apply for new roles in other departments; they reach out across the organization in a transparent attempt to begin networking.

The critical failure that I have noticed for most is that they only look around inside the organization; they do not actively look elsewhere. They have gotten comfortable and are not willing to risk leaving. They have put too much time in the current organization to leave now. Unfortunately, they decide to stick it out in the hopes of recouping lost time through opportunity yet end up only wasting even more time. Time in their one career that they will never get back.

It is sadly not until the music is too loud, that it drowns out their thoughts of misplaced loyalty, or risk aversion that they then realize they have stayed on stage too late. It is time to move on. Ready or not, their time has come to exit, stage left.

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