Time to go?

Last week we heard how IT managers sometimes quit because their companies become unhappy places to work. But there are may other reasons why it may be time to move on.

Last week we heard how IT managers sometimes quit because their companies become unhappy places to work. But there are may other reasons why it may be time to move on.

Patricia Wallington, a former CIO at Xerox, could offer at least five reasons, many of which resonate with New Zealand IT managers.

A feeling of been there, done that often is all too common. “The challenge is gone. The work seems static and the opportunity for new challenges appears dim. You are concerned that your skills will atrophy in this static environment,” she says.

The company may be sick, Wallington says. It has falling revenues, is no longer making profit and expenses have been cut to the bone. But whether the firm is terminally ill or just suffering a temporary downturn matters, as sticking it out can offer opportunities for dedicated employees once recovery comes.

New bosses and structures may also force a change. Do you fit in with the new way of doing things. If you don’t feel like putting in the effort to making new relationships with the new bosses it may be time to move on, but there again new relationships have to be formed with a new employer.

Does your star shine less brightly? Are you no longer flavour of the month? Performance appraisals don’t tell you everything, she says. Assess the environmental clues. Is your advice sought after? Are you listened to? Do your compensation and perks match your contributions?

Wallington says there may be other signals telling you it is time to move on -- hitting a "glass ceiling", perhaps. If you've made a mistake, the firm may not risk giving you another chance with any large project. Even a major success can be a trigger: “How can she ever top that?”

Environment Canterbury IT manager David Lewitt says lifestyle opportunities or chances to work on larger projects or overseas sometimes present a compelling reason to move on.

Rocom Wireless HR manager Joy Paxton says if IT professionals are motivated by career and see no career path at the firm, it is time to move on. If they are motivated more by money, the time to go is when they see better opportunities elsewhere.

“You need to be fairly careful that you are going to something better. You need to look at the compensation package and before you move look at the culture you're in. When you're feeling you need to move, you need to do your homework first,” Paxton says.

Capital and Coast Health director of information services Andrew Snoxall says the time to go is when you are looking for a bigger challenge. For many ICT people, it's about effectiveness rather than money. “If you feel you are not able to make a difference, that’s when you should concentrate on moving on,” he says.

Snoxall says you should put the word around your contacts that you are seeking a fresh challenge, as word of mouth can often lead to quicker offers of work than recruitment agencies.

Department of Internal Affairs general manager of information and facilities Alison Fleming left her previous job four years ago, after she “ran out of ideas”. Her feeling that she could no longer creatively contribute coincided with the possibility that the firm's new owners would disestablish her post.

If you stop getting job satisfaction on a long-term basis, Fleming says, it is time to move -- unless you're offered “an opportunity for growth, or something different in a new direction".

Change can be positive, but why do some IT managers stay with their employer for a decade or so?

North Shore City Council CIO Tony Rogers has spent 11 years at the council, a year in his current job. Rogers has had four jobs at the council, which he describes as a great employer that offers lots of exciting challenges.

He advises people develop a strategy of three to five years and that once their programme of achievements has been completed, it is time to do a stocktake and consider other challenges.

Fisher and Paykel's general manager of IT, Don Cooper, has been at the whiteware firm for 30 years.

“Plenty of challenge and plenty of opportunity,” has kept him there and he says he may only leave when it is time to retire.

“Whenever I got frustrated, I asked myself a simple question -- would I be better off at another company? I decided that another company would be just as bad, if not worse,” Cooper says.

Greenwood is Computerworld's human resources reporter. Send letters for publication to Computerworld Letters.

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