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Home > Business > Special

Should you quit your job or stay put?

Amit Ranjan Rai in New Delhi | October 25, 2005

Experience is something that cannot be given as a capsule. A one-year experience is worth one year, and a five-year experience is worth five years.

You cannot get five years experience in one year! It is also essential that five years of experience shouldn't be one year's experience five times over.

This is what critically plagues the Indian industry. The government is our largest employer; but take the case of, say, a Railways clerk.

While his designation changes from that of a junior to a senior to a head clerk and so on, even after 10 years, the content of his job remains the same. That's one year's experience 10 times over.

What is critical is to build expertise as part of experience. There are progressive organisations that identify the potential of its employees and provide them with multiple facets of experience.

At mega-corporations such as GE or Citibank, employees job-hop within the organisation to gain expertise in different domains. What is essential is that as the employee gains experience in different areas, his thinking, his personality and his management skills are honed.

It is this learning that is critical as you grow. One must understand that working life is not about designations but about learning and expertise.

To my mind, there are some fundamental ways to look at attrition -- which may be good or bad. One, in a particular job, the timeframe you need to be able to become fully conversant with that job -- all the nuances of the job, the good and the bad things, and all the tricks of the trade.

Any time spent over and above that timeline is a duplication that does not add value to the employee as an individual, irrespective of the position he holds in that organisation.

On the other hand, experience is not a theory, it is a practice, for which the employee needs an optimal time to get comfortable with the job. If an organisation puts him on a different assignment before that, that for me, is attrition.

To say attrition per se is bad, is not always correct. One needs to look at it from the viewpoint of both the employee and the employer. From the employee's stand, once experience or expertise has been gained, the additional time spent, if it is within 30-40 per cent of that timeframe -- say, your job that requires two years to get that experience, but you spend 30-40 per cent more time -- it is acceptable. But beyond that it stops adding value. Attrition before is bad and attrition after the expertise is built, is good.

From the employer's perspective, it goes against the organisation if it is unable to recruit someone suitable for a vacant position immediately -- which is the case with a lot of Indian organisations.

Companies need to put a process in places to get suitable replacements as soon as people move, even if the attrition is within the organisation, so that work doesn't suffer.

Attrition that happens without the absorption of knowledge when there is competency capability, to my mind is bad attrition. Unfortunately, HR systems in our corporations are not evolved enough to measure good and bad attrition.

Corporations work for profit. A corporation imparts training and other inputs to get suitable returns. Attrition that happens before the returns come in, is bad attrition while post returns, is acceptable, or good.

In fact, there's a sweet spot somewhere where returns come in, which are adequate for investments that have been made, and beyond which additional investment has to be made for the next level. If organisations are able to identify that spot and manage it, it is good attrition.

All outer layers of that will be bad attrition. Employees and organisations have to work towards maximising good attrition and minimising bad attrition.

Raman Roy is Chairman and Managing Director, AccessIntellect.

Employment governance has changed from one of lifetime employment to one of lifetime employability. From the employee's perspective, job-hopping can mean immediate gains -- financial, designational and different types of credibility. Organisations need to understand that, and need to gear up for the change.

However, employees should also realise that in the longer term, organisations will look for experience not just in conceptualisation of schemes, but in their implementation and course correction. And this experience cannot be had unless employees have a longer tenure in an organisation.

Also, if employees jump jobs too often, they will really be just a rolling stone -- which leaves the employers frazzled when they look at a resume. Of course, no one is expecting life-time employment, but if you do it for short-term gains, you will really be shooting yourself in the foot.

The right period to be in a job depends on the kind of industry you are in and your job profile. But I must also say that if you are not able to engage yourself with an organisation, it is better to cut your losses.

Hema Ravichandar is former Senior Vice President and Group Head HR, Infosys. She is now a strategic HR advisory consultant.

If I hadn't rolled along, would I have been stationary? If I had moved on, would I have been standing still? Is changing jobs the way to progress one's career"? My instantaneous response is no! But progress sometimes can be about changing jobs. Not that I recommend it. But having been through a few haloed portals, all I can say is I have gained, personally and professionally.

After all it's the "Business of Your Own Career". Make your own decisions. The hunger to learn, the drive to grow, the lust to perform and the eagerness to succeed drove my own diversification; just the way any entrepreneur would determine the decision to diversify one's business.

Not being from the school of still waters, I can only share the experience of having learnt from my own progressions. I respect many who have been steadfast and unchanged. I know many who have captained many a ship. All of them are equally successful and yet none is a lesser god.

In my own progression, I believe I could unleash the ability to blend easily into cultures or stir one up, like a coffee bean. It's only because I made sure that in the "Business of my Career", I will always learn. And in turn benefit those who I learn with and learn from.

I've learnt to take risks. I've learnt to be patient. I've learnt to lose and learnt that a team wins. I've learnt to listen. I've learnt to build strategies; I've learnt to execute. I've learnt to be nimble. I've learnt to mediate and counsel. I've learnt to create value. I've learnt the beauty of vision. I've learnt god is in the details. I've learnt the value of time. I've learnt the aura of drama and I've learnt the power of facts.

I've learnt that perhaps it may be time to say, stop. And perhaps grow like a rock! Now would you call that stationary or just time which stood still? How does it matter? Just keep learning whichever way that turns you on!

Sunil Lulla is the CEO, Times Global Broadcasting. The "Business of his Career" includes JWT, HMV, MTV,, Sony and TIMES NOW.

At the start your career, job hopping may be interesting, but it will really not carry you too far. Just like an organisation sells a product that is consistent in terms of positioning and quality, a person sells his services that are consistent and well-positioned. You need to perform up to a level, until a track record is established.

Once that's done, however, it might just happen that the company also starts to have a rub-off effect on you -- and the world may not recognise your true value. You may gain an year or two in terms of employment, but you may never realise your true worth. Ideally, seven to eight years of first-job experience mean that you have risen in the organisation, the successes associated with your contribution start to have an effect on your credibility and you build a reputation.

Maybe then it's time to move on, but not just because you want to, but because you may have hit a glass ceiling without knowing it. Other factors should also affect your decision.

For instance, you may think you need to change roles but the company may not have such a job rotation policy, the industry may be going through a slump and consequently, the value of the people associated with it may also be nose-diving.

At the same time, exercise extreme caution when you are looking for a change. It's not about job hopping -- it's about building your career. At the same time, when you join an organisation at a senior level, you do it for a mandate.

Make sure that you do not leave the mandate allotted to you half-finished. When I took up LG and was making progress with the company, I got several job offers. But I turned all of them down, just to make sure that I got the company to a level I intended to.

Rajeev Karwal is the former MD of Electrolux India.

Executives are often at crossroads deciding on whether to pursue lateral career opportunities which promise the rainbow, or stay on when grooming and succession plans are available in-house.

To answer in short: it depends on the company you keep. If companies develop an organisational platform to groom leadership in-house, such companies promote consistent good performers. Leadership teams in these companies make commitments to work towards accomplishing a mission over a longer timeframe.

In such a situation, the leadership team demands a quid pro quo in its relation with the board (read: shareholders or promoters). In return, the board commits autonomy, capital-resources, vets the strategic direction and initiatives, recognises and rewards the CEO and leadership team for providing constancy of purpose, pursuit of goal and stability of leadership.

This results in a long-term commitment, if not a life-term career with the company. This kind of positive quid pro quo from the board and leadership team significantly contributes to corporate success. Examples of such success stories are L&T, ICICI Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra, Hindustan Lever, ITC, Infosys, HDFC amongst others.

In such situations, the team stays on over a decade, or sometimes even two or three decades, shunning the exotic job opportunities which a lateral hiring option with a competing organisation or in a different industry altogether, would have offered to them. In short, a company culture decides if employees need to change jobs or stay put.

The obvious compelling question, which the team members who have stayed on, need to answer is, "What is in the present job, for me?". The answer needs to be compared in the context of the missed outside chance -- a high-growth, start-up opportunity.

The answers: low risk, moderate to high return as against a pure high-risk high-return new generation opportunity; predictive career path with no threat of organisational change disturbing their roles; deeper industry and subject matter expertise leading to thoroughness, globality, scale and sustainability of financial gains. That's a "win-win" quadrant for both the corporations and the team.

R Suresh is the MD, Stanton Chase International, an executive search firm.

Additional reporting by Prerna Raturi

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: All Politics hence people quit

Hello People, Its not the company that matters reason for attrition. Its the middle order manager who are responsible for higher attrition in companies. Instead ...

Posted by Senior

Sub: All middle management tricks

Its all due to middle management tricks, thats nothing but politics, i agree with it. Regards

Posted by Prasad



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