There is a lot of shifting of roles and responsibilities in organizations right now. We often hear when an admired employee leaves an organization…”those will be tough shoes to fill.” A wise friend of mine who is leaving his position overheard people saying “it’s going to be hard to fill your shoes”. He quickly and poignantly responded, “I plan on taking my shoes with me.”
Take your shoes with you. That’s a different response than we are use to.
Yet, what an invitation for an organization to pause and reflect on the next chapter. It’s an opportunity for a team to not fill the same shoes but to rethink what is most important, what is needed now, and how the next hire can create space for innovation, creativity and future building. Perhaps we need to ask, what shoes do we need?
During times of employee transitions we are tempted to quickly fill a position. Yet, it can be a time to pause and reflect. We can redefine the position and evaluate gaps. It’s also a time to integrate more digital tools to ensure the position is well supported. If we fill the same shoes we might just end up with the wrong shoes.
Offering to take your shoes with you is a gracious way to invite your organization to reflect, reinvent, and redirect.It’s not a criticism of your role, your service or the organization. It is rather an invitation to open the door to redefining what thriving could look like for employees and the organization.
If you have an open position, first check your mindset and vocabulary. Perhaps shift away from the language of “filling the position” to “growing a new position” or even “trying on a new pair of shoes and looking for a new fit”.
If you want to try on a “new pair of shoes” consider these questions:
- What would the ideal fit look and feel like?
- What areas of the current fit are pinching? What areas need to be stretched to fit the next 3-5 years of growth?
- How much support will be available?
- Are you looking for long distance or sprint shoes?
- How will you ensure the shoes can travel the varied terrain ahead?
For anyone who’s ever gone shoe shopping, you know there are many brands, sizes, features and shoes available for walking, running, hiking, tennis, and sports of all kinds. Next time, when you find yourself saying “those will be tough shoes to fill”, perhaps find a more meaningful compliment and then move on to finding the right shoes for right now.
If you are taking your shoes with you, let’s talk about finding a new place for you to land. And if you are looking at “growing a new position,” let’s discuss the five questions above so you land with the best possible shoe for the landscape ahead.