Monday, September 24, 2012

Legacy | It's all what (should) matters in career

What is a career? Your prominent answer probably that it is an achievement of life or a representation of our success. We work everyday and doing best efforts hoping all of those will increase the probability of having a better career path in the future; and in return hope for better rewards that will give us more power to engine our life happiness. 

Good career path is the reason of most talented people to join a big company. It provides a wide opportunity for any talent to channel their passion for career, a training scheme for their competence development and a competitive environment that mostly suit with those who think they can always win. Big company enjoy the benefit of having best talents. In this world of efficiency, best talents define company success to overcome the competition and sustain their profit growth. 

After few years, some talents will realize that not every of them can advance further to the top of the pyramid.  Sometime the winning edge is not only hard work or good performance. Even all of them give their best performance, the available slot above is diminishing by a factor of exponential. When the competitive environment is so tight, office politic and favor become part of the game. Some talents start to considering their option to stay in the game, or to play in other field where their probability to win is more certain. 

A growing war of talents in Indonesia..
In a growing economic environment like Indonesia these days, business run pretty much well. Companies need more talents to engine their growth while the growth of qualified person are limited. A war of talents period is now coming to its peak. Headhunters are everywhere, social media like LinkedIn created an open market that treated professional like stock exchanges with an e-bay closed auction pricing mechanism.

Is it okay to jump between job for faster track of career?

While it is (was perhaps) normal in Europe or US to move between job for better career, the old wisdom in Indonesia is still job security and lifetime employment. That was how our parent taught us. But now the easiest way to go vertical up of the pyramid is already changing. When you can not wait until some slot is available in your ceiling, the open market offers a shortcut given your competences is sufficient. Not only that, often the rewards is promising. A competitors will gladly double your rewards that you get if you jump in to their team, with higher position than before. Even among different industries, a 50% top up is likely standard for an immediate sign up.

Then it is not rare this days in Indonesia to see professional jump from one company to another. While 5 years back then was considered as short term and opportunistic, nowadays is already considered as long timer. And when their peer see those not "loyal" jumper in fact yield a better career after years of the same hard work the value of "loyal" is somehow questioned...

Bringing a new competition and challenge for companies..
Big and reputable companies will mostly not effected with this phenomena. They will always attract fresh best talents from best university in Indonesia every year, train them in house and they will be ready within few years of working to fill the slot left by those jumper. Also with the good Knowledge Management, the know how of the business is stay within the company, not within the employee. They are stored in remaining leaders, in the the documents, and training modules. The rate of knowledge that leave is not significant than the rate of re-creation of knowledge within the company.

But in a growing companies -not necessarily less in size- the know how of the business is mostly still inside their professional's head. As the business is growing the company put more focus on the development of the company size and profit. The talent development system is not well establish enough to generate sufficient talents and create the knowledge inside the company; and they also sometime hijack from others. When the business is very know-how specific, loosing one head can be a business disaster. In the other hand, to prevent loosing people by raising the compensation may also jeopardize the measured business growth, mostly when your company is measured by EVA ;-)

In a lucrative and high barrier to entry business like Palm Oil and its downstream, the available know-how  versus the demand is getting more extreme. The competition for people is no longer grade A, but even to grade B. And how to destroy a growing company in such business? Easy, just take the few leaders with the most knowledge. And there will be chaos...(yes, there will be blood...)

Well it's not a crime, right?...
Then is it a crime to become a jumper and take benefit of the this war of talents? Is it a crime to have a rare knowledge and bargain for it? Well, the famous Joker said "If you are really good in something, never do it for free". No one will say it is a crime. Some even say your job is not your career. It's a privilege. But then, if the company has to suffer when somebody jump (in business terms off course), then it also does not seem right. Although it is more to the company's lack of knowledge and risk management that allows this thing become a disaster.

Then, where is the balance? I will say it is legacy..
In my naive mind, a good professional should create legacy in their career state. The contribution of a professional should not only measured in financial benefit to the company while he is there, but also for their effect to the organizational development. A legacy is there when the value creation by a person reach its sustainable growth  and will not shrink just because he leave the company. That will mean the professional has developed the system, the people and the knowledge for the company that it will grow better on its own, even later without him. Some people is afraid to do so, because they fear of loosing their job and try the best to make the company depend on them. 

When the legacy is there, then it is a matter of choice. A fair choice. Those who focus in legacy, usually put their passion in it and mostly they will finish the dream before starting a new one. But if the legacy is not there when you leave -either move or retirement- then you are a type of not worthy professional. You took more than you give and only care about yourself.

Your legacy define what kind of professional you are...


  1. nicely presented, bro..

    interestingly this subject of topic intrigue me so much.

    not only the topic is interesting and fascinating to look at.. but how relevant it is in today's workspace & realm.

    I am not in position to say whether to be a "jumper" is good or bad. but, the company has no right to blame their employee if one decide to "took-off" given they feel less-rewarded, less-paid, and less-career opportunity.

    It's always a two sides of a coin.
    And it's depend on the circumstance between those biparteit..

    But speaking about "legacy", i do agree that it's more important to be left, either we took-off early, or upon retirement.. But, what if someone could not left his legacy not because he's not incapable to do so, but rather there's no opportunity provided to create such legacy?


  2. There will always be opportunity, when there is no opportunity for you to do anything in one place, then the only opportunity for you is to get out from that place ;-)