Whether preparing for the process of promotion, implementing new changes to existing policies and procedures, or leaving the workplace altogether for a new direction, employees in the midst of change can do more than simply shift responsibilities. Companies can learn a few things from these ever-evolving employees:


1. Realize you’re not satisfied. Just as employees often grow out of their jobs, so, too, do companies grow complacent after maximizing their product potential. In 1950, the oldest ten percent of the most profitable ten percent of American companies was one hundred and ten years old. Today, the oldest ten percent of the of the most profitable ten percent has dropped to just over fifty, and that average gets a bump from a few immortal names like DuPont.

The adage that companies only exist to make money is a 20th-Century invention, and one I no longer buy. You can easily identify companies that have been around for more than a hundred years and operate under the sole pretense of profit. Their buildings have usually been abandoned for decades. Profit is obviously the first (and usually only) consideration when a company opens its doors, but strong companies eventually realize their traditional models don’t easily adapt to change. Or they recognize new revenue streams through old habits. Or, frankly, they come to the conclusion that their stuffy, antiquated traditions are cultivating a stuffy, antiquated culture, one that can paralyze employee engagement before they ever fall in love with the job.


2. Keep your options open. Regardless of position or tenure, wise employees often look for new opportunities, either within the company walls or with another organization. “Always look for your next job,” a trusted colleague once told me.

Companies should, as well. What can your business provide that might exceed your current model’s expectations? What innovations in your wheelhouse might spawn an entirely new industry? Where is the diversification in your talent pool? Companies at least partially interested in answering these questions have already admitted they look forward to challenges.

I don’t need to tell you that scrapping a working model for the sake of something new is the worst idea in the history of worst ideas. But don’t be afraid to pilot a program that expands beyond your business’s comfort zone. You might find a slight detour leads to entirely new path lined with riches.


3. Recognize your worth. Most employees leave for greener pastures, be it money or benefits or growth. This is often a residue of dissatisfaction, one that can be measured by simple attrition. Employees are holding you to a standard, and—fair or not—in their eyes, you’re not measuring up.

Your company should view partnerships with other companies through the same lens. Yes, profit should be the main factor in your business entanglements, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Entanglements with companies can often impact your growth plan, alliances, employees, reputation, culture and product, to say nothing of budget.


I’m not suggesting you say no to partnerships that negatively affect those qualities. I’m saying, if a client wants to do business with you in a manner that slows your growth, sullies your product quality, or hurts your reputation, the money better be worth it. Just as a worker checks his or herself in the mirror before a big interview and gives a little pep talk monologue, your company needs to realize what it brings to the table on every deal, long before you ever sit down at the negotiating table. After all, you came to the table because you’re not satisfied. If you evaluate solving that gap, look at every option on the table and refuse to settle for less, you’ll discover avenues that allow your business to move up in the world.