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Big Fish Seeking Smaller Pond?

30th January 2014

Many senior executives and managers find their career progression path meets a brick wall at some point in their career. Perhaps they are comfortably embedded within the ranks of a large organisation, poised on a succession path to bigger and better roles when an unexpected re-structure effectively takes away all promotion opportunities. Or perhaps they find themselves playing a waiting game, reliant on someone leaving the organisation before opportunity for greater responsibility and remuneration arises.

Eventually mounting frustration at finding themselves in a career cul-de-sac can cause even the most loyal and long-standing individual to look externally for roles offering a faster-track to progression. Quite often it is smaller organisations and start-ups that offer this panacea.

CV’s of corporate executives evidence a wealth of transferrable skills, expertise and industry contacts that are very appealing to smaller start-ups seeking individuals with the gravitas and experience to ‘hit the ground running’. The bigger obstacle is frequently the change in culture from big to small for the candidate, and a return to a more ‘hands-on’, highly visible and  more loosely structured role, for sometimes less remuneration and no immediate guarantee of success or bonus pay-out. With this can come an overwhelming sense of responsibility that the impact of their management decisions can have enormous impact on the company; make or break scenarios can occur and need to be dealt with hastily. Larger companies tend to move more slowly because there is less financial pressure to make urgent decisions, they can be risk-adverse, having a lot more to lose from making a bad decision and layer upon layer of management and compliance can protract progress. And then there’s simply the need to ‘muck in’ to get things done. For individuals used to delegating tasks to a large team of peers in support roles, simply solving things yourself can be an unexpected and difficult transition. So, it becomes a case of getting used to solving things yourself – whether researching commercial opportunities by calling prospects personally, or moving ahead with decisions with limited resources.

If these ‘negatives’ reflect the refreshing, stimulating and face-paced change that you seek, then perhaps the smaller pond is indeed the right move for you –

To adapt quickly, have faith in your competencies and decision-making abilities and learn to trust your judgment without too much procrastination. Be aware that decisions cannot be planned and then delegated; be prepared to be a key driver in executing decisions and leading by example.

Don’t be a perfectionist – sometimes the learns are more effective and timely by going ahead with a plan when a larger organisation would stall. As the saying goes ‘he who dares wins’!

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Candidates – be more selective!

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