When it comes to retaining employees, smart organizations offer some combination of attractive compensation, opportunities for advancement, professional development, appropriate challenges, and values that inspire loyalty.

If immediate advancement is the only thing missing from that list, you have reason to invest some time and effort in creating the job you want within your association.

Start with some planning questions. What do you see yourself doing in the long run? What work experience will pave the way to your career ideal? Do your interests and abilities mesh with any gaps in your association’s org chart? Could you take on new responsibilities to expand your current job in the right direction?

With clarity and suggestions at hand, ask your supervisor to work with you to address your concerns. (The key is “work with you,” which reinforces the idea that you’re in this together.) If the organization values you, it should make an effort support your ambitions. If you’re disappointed, or if your employer is lacking in several of the areas mentioned above, explore other options.

When thinking about a new job, keep in mind the answers to those planning questions, as well as the things you like about your job now. Meanwhile, keep getting those good reviews; there’s nothing like a great reference when you’re taking that next step.

Published in Associations Now, October 2006.