Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Importance of an Exit Plan

Recently, I have round of drinks with my friend, Terry. Terry works in the FMCG sector. He is single and stays with his parents.

Terry says "Hey Ken, do you know I have a pay raise of 10%?"
Sounding happy for him with eyes light up, I reply "Great! Now your earned income base rises!"

Terry retorts back "As delighted as I am, strangely I just do not feel satisfied"
My voice chokes back - "Is it you want more? Humans are not easily contented financially"

Terry - "It's not that. It seems my personal wealth depends very much on my take-home pay. There is a price to pay when the management gives me a pay raise; that is I have to perform and meet my new responsibilities. I will work hard but the problem is, I am worried about my main source of income being cut should my boss finds me redundant. It's very competitive here. When this happens, I will be transferred out. I do not wish to work in other divisions since I have little interests and can't find a match to expand my career potential".

Terry has a concern on his work performance. He wonders about his next term delivery and if he is able to match the company's expectations, prior to the pay raise. The question is, Terry is only dependent on this source of income. Finance aside, will his career be jeopardized?

He has this query in his mind - "what happens if there is someone junior whom is able to replace him and worse, proves a more convincing wage dollar per headcount basis?"

Let say all factors discounted out, what can Terry do if the boss transfer him out?

Will it help if Terry has drawn out various exit solutions? In other words, he has a platform to fall back on.


Sipping my hot pipping Chinese tea, I take out a blank piece of paper and specify 3 key areas for Terry to consider. I hope to broaden his perspective:

1. Start a part-time business
2. Re-visit his career interests and define his 2nd mode of pathway
3. Understand his career priorities

During his term of employment, he could set aside time to address point 1-3. While moonlighting is not supported; however a part-time business is able to contribute to his income profile, as part of his exit strategy plan. The best part is he is holding on to a job while preparing for an escape route. Examples include tuition, social media, organize events, Trainer, computer technician etc.

Terry needs to examine his strengths, understand hobbies that he is keen to pursue on and utilize them to build a business around it.

On the other hand, Terry can take this opportunity to assess his career pathway by asking himself a few basic questions:

(a) Switch to another Profession? Why and what is the main reason?
(b) If he continues in this current role, what will be the outcome? Is this what he wants?
(c) What options available to tap on?

Terry's career focus is to work towards the goal of being a Senior Manager. And he is not sure if the current work environment and advancement opportunities allow him to do so.

As a result, the importance of an exit plan is very useful. We can't predict results (only visualization and forecasts) the next day but expect the unexpected.

In the case of Terry, his boss may be unpredictable, considering the past employment history of the company. Thus, I have decided to work with Terry together.

How about yourself? Do you have an exit plan?

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