Hi everybody, this is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. This question’s pretty short and to-the-point.

My company is not doing well. In fact, I expect there will layoffs and eventually the company may go out of business. I’ve been employed by this company for ten years. I feel bad thinking about leaving them in a bad spot because there’s no chance I’ll be laid off. How does a person balance the needs of the company versus their own needs?

I’m going to try to answer this as delicately as I possibly can, because I’m sure there are CEOs of companies watching this who I work with, and there are employees of companies that I work with as well.

Until the early 90’s probably, most companies in America saw employees as people who provided a service to the organization and as a result of that service were compensated fairly. That was sort of the relationship that happened between companies and employees. Then things started to shift amongst a lot of companies. The best thinkers (I think) in the world where I live, which is human development and organizational development, started rethinking that relationship. They started thinking that if an organization is going to be successful, the company has a right to expect certain productivity from its employees for the compensation they give to those employees. But what also started to happen was the sense that companies needed to be aware of what employees needed at work in order to be engaged and in order to thrive. Things like having their opinions valued, having adequate safety, being able to develop themselves… all these kinds of things were things that employers were now considered necessary for them to be successful as well. That’s how engagement happens, you do something for me, I do something for you, together we succeed.

In this case, as a 10-year employee of the organization and as a person who obviously cares about and is loyal to the organization… I think that the best thing you can do is ask yourself if you want to move on. If you want to move on, give your employer adequate notice, give your employer adequate runway, collaborate with them on the process of your departure or movement. It is a sad situation when companies are suffering, and a lot are suffering right now. Give them plenty of time to figure it out.

In my early 30’s I was ready to leave an organization and I sat down with the CEO and had a conversation and laid out what my career path looked like. That company was actually about to go through a merger, and my boss (who was the best boss I ever had) said “Let’s talk about how the organization can win AND how you can win.” So we worked out a really good plan.

So, there are companies that are going to get all nasty with you and angry with you, but not a lot of them nowadays. Especially a company that’s suffering like this. So, just work out a plan for yourself, what you want the path to be. Be prepared in case they say “You can go now.” Give them plenty of notice, and work through that with them as they go through their difficulty as well.

Hope that was helpful!

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