All too often our most valuable and successful team members get bored in their current role and want more. They are hungry for a new challenge or more of a challenge because their current role has become the same old for them. Or they want to broaden their skill set with a new role or they want career progression. There are many reasons this happens in business.

The challenge can be when that employee is so valuable to you in their current role that you can’t afford to lose them from that role. They have effectively become pigeonholed and stuck because of their own success, and as managers, we don’t want to risk losing them from that role because of the value they bring to the role. All too often I see managers and business owners attempt to keep that employee in their current role, thinking that will be best for them as the manager and best for the business.

Sometimes we tell the employee we will have a think about what other options there are for them and we simply do nothing, hoping they will get on with doing what they are so good at doing. Other times we just shut down the idea by saying there are no other opportunities, even when we haven’t really given it consideration. What we are trying to do is to keep that employee in the role that they are so valuable in because we can’t afford to lose them from that role.

In reality, what we have effectively done is lose them not just from the role they are so successful in, but we also lose them from our business altogether. And that’s the worst scenario that can occur.

Unfortunately, I see this situation play out all too often. Many of the candidates I interview are in that situation; after asking many times for other opportunities only to have their requests and feedback fall on deaf ears, they naturally start to look for that opportunity elsewhere. I understand as a business owner that sometimes you simply can’t offer that employee what they want and need in their career; however, all too often we can help them with what they want to achieve, but we stick our head in the sand because it’s not what we really want.

Here are my key pieces of advice for handling this kind of situation, based on what I have learnt over the years:

  • Don’t avoid the conversation
    If the employee is raising with you that they are interested in other positions in the business, need a new challenge or project, or feel they have more to give, have the conversation, don’t shut it down. Listen to understand. You need to understand what they want more of, what they want less of, what it looks like in your business and their timeline. Being armed with all the information will allow you to properly weigh up options and consider what you can and can’t offer.
  • Take action
    It’s important to show the employee you have heard and taken on board their feedback, and communicate what you are going to do. All too often a jobseeker will tell me they have had multiple conversations with their manager about what they want and they never hear anything back and nothing ever changes, hence they start looking elsewhere. Taking action doesn’t necessarily mean that you move them to a new role straight away, but you need to show them that you are trying to consider and work through possible solutions for them.
  • Put together a plan
    Whether you can or can’t support the employee by giving them what they are seeking, you need a plan. A plan for transitioning some of their current tasks to another employee so they are freed up to take on that new challenge. Or a plan to train up another staff member, if you can’t offer them what they want and you risk losing them altogether from your business. In my experience, that plan might be a transition over many months or even a year, but if the employee can see you are trying to support them and there is a plan, they will buy in. It’s often when nothing happens after multiple conversations that the frustration creeps in.

I don’t like surprises, so I have always taken the approach that I’d rather have the hard conversation and be honest with the employee if I can’t offer them what they need and want so that together we can have a plan to best support us both. You’ll support them with taking that next step in their career, while they support you to reduce the big hole they will leave if and when they do leave the business.

However, if they are a valuable employee in my business, I’ll be bending over backwards to do everything I possibly can to retain that employee in my business as those kinds of employees are hard to come by. Sometimes we need to think differently to come up with ideas on what we can do to create that new challenge or that new position for the employee, and it’s from those ideas that business growth and success can come.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

Hand drawn outline of mobile phone, laptop, cup of tea and book from a birdseye view.
Leave A Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to get in touch

What would happen if you spent just one hour focusing on your people strategy? Contact us to book your free one hour Inspire HQ People Hour; we’ll help you assess how to build a better workplace.
Megan and Ange are sitting in the Inspire HQ boardroom talking to a man and showing him a report with DiSC in the background.
Contact Us