But why? Sin-Yaw.
By syw on Jul 08, 2008
This article is just a bit more self-serving than my average.
How should a company deal with its senior ranked that are away from headquarters, where power and influences concentrate, particularly those temporarily assigned abroad?
Let me decompose this question into 3 scenarios:
- If the company send someone away for a multi-year full-time training, with pay and all expenses taken care of. What happens when the person completes it?
- If the company dispatch a senior person to handle a difficult situation; the person accomplishes the mission after a few years. What then?
- Lastly, what to do with someone senior, competent, sadly peaked, but still seeking growth?
The first scenario really depends on what the person has learned. Under the mantra of "never throw good money after bad," any sunk investment meant nothing unless it can generate better return than alternatives. The company must evaluate the person's potential future contribution against all others who, in a sense, compete with him. The best qualified person gets the job.
Note the earlier decision to send the person for the training will be proven wrong if the individual comes back not competitive enough. Observe also that the now newly trained person has received the benefits no matter what the company decides to do with him.
The 2nd scenario is, again, not a valid economic concept under the mantra of "what have you done recently." A superb general is useless without wars. The company should graciously thank the person's contribution. Retain him for appreciation and future use if economically justified. Seek a friendly way to part ways if not.
Note that those now unwanted skills maybe marketable elsewhere. An idle hand at home might be better than a busy hand at the competitor's.
The best decision, for the 3rd scenario, is to gently let the person go. A person expecting unwarranted growth will become restless or even disruptive over time.
Wait a moment! Is the world really so cruel? So short-term thinking? Why does everything must justify economically? Where is loyalty, kindness, compassion, friendship, and decency?
It is really not the best interest for the person to stay on, even if the company is warm-hearted and appreciative. An individual must optimize himself for his or her future growth too. In this post-Internet, globalized, offshoring/outsourcing economy. Plenty of Chinese, Indians, or Vietnamese will kill to take your jobs. Many competitors will rejoice when the company bankrupts. Neither the company, nor the individuals can afford not to optimize.
This explains, partially, the weird phenomenon of this so-called "war on talents." Every companies seeks talents and loses critical ones at the same time. At any point, the company can afford to optimize only a very small number of objectives and must not invest on others. Unless an individual happens to match those objectives, it is best for him or her to look elsewhere.
Individuals should, then, always seek training and challenging assignments, even with the risks of not being aligned with the company afterward. It is always best to enhance yourself whenever there is a chance.
This rhetoric should be a sufficient answer to all those who demanded the rationalization for my departure. I love the company, its technologies, and all those wonderful people. I have a great job that pays well and is extremely satisfying. But, sadly, I have cultivated skills that are not applicable to the objectives the company chose to optimize for. There are only two choices: wait for new objectives or change company. I waited.