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Why you should stay in your current position 3 to 5 years October 24, 2012

Posted by thefieldgeneral in Leadership.

In America we are driven to success. Money and power entice us to seek promotion and raises. This concept of always pushing for the next thing, can rob us of the valuable experiences of the current thing. Sometimes staying put, moving sideways, or even going backward is required for ultimate success. Patience and discipline lead to a greater reward. This is why you should plan on being where you are for 3 to 5 years.

Thanks to Amanda Yepiz @http://www.flickr.com/photos/trazomfreak/

I sometimes regret moving up too fast.  Some lessons are easier to learn at lower levels of the profession. Once you bypass those lessons by being promoted early, they become almost impossible for you to learn. They become gaps, weak spots in your skill set that may plague you for months or years.

There are 5 excellent reasons why you should wait 3 to 5 years before seeking promotion from a position. Of course, if you’ve got a “fries with that” job, it is not unreasonable to seek something better sooner.  But barring a job you can’t stand, here are the 5 reasons:
1.Opportunities abound
Many people feel that if they are not on the lookout for the next good thing, they will miss out. Assuming that you have to take opportunities when they show up or you will miss out isn’t necessarily helpful. It is a perspective thing. Are opportunities rare or plentiful? I submit to you that opportunities abound. They may not always be what you expect, but they will come when the time is right.
2.It takes around 5 years to develop true expertise.
According to Michael Hyatt, it takes about 10,000 hours to develop true expertise. This is about 5 years of work. This makes sense to me. Everyone starts out at an Apprentice level skill. Apprentices require significant supervision, training, and help to be consistently successful. It takes a year or two to move from Apprentice level skill to Journeyman. Journeyman can do all basic activities with consistent success. With sufficient assistance a Journeyman can perform well with all but the most complex projects. It takes another 2 to 4 years to move from Journeyman to Expert. Experts have mastered the basic and specialized skills of the job. They have begun to develop the subtle skills of Mastery that cannot be grasped without a firm foundation. They consistently perform well in projects. After reaching an Expert level of skill most people will move up, but some will stay in that position eventually developing true Mastery after 5 to 15 additional years. Masters have developed such a high level of skill in their job that their effectiveness often seems to be magical. The way to optimize your effectiveness at higher levels is to achieve at least true expertise at each level in the organization.
3.Organizational value increases exponentially as you remain in a position
Sometime after your 3ed year in a position, assuming you are progressing well, your value moves from slight incremental increases to an exponential gains. Mangers can back off and let you operate as you’ve learned all the basics. They can rely on you for more important and risky projects. This accelerates learning and visible successes.
Value acceleration occurs again after expertise is achieved. Masters at their craft are priceless. The key here is to watch your interest and passion. If your passion for the job is waning, it is time to change. If your passion is sustained, it may be you’ve found your nitch. Most Careers have two paths, Mastery and Leadership. One will sustain your passion, the other will eat your lunch. Pick wisely.

4.Seek responsibility, not position or money.
Responsibility is the key to advancement. As I’ve moved up in the company I want people who I can count on beside me. Having a better resume or getting promoted doesn’t make you more reliable. Taking on and succeeding at a responsibility without being promoted shows both competence and loyalty.
Also, if your boss is even remotely sane and you are doing a good job, he can’t complain about you asking for more responsibility. He can get frustrated with demands for position or money even if you are doing a stellar job. You can safely seek responsibility. Trust me, if you are successful, the money and position always follow, eventually.

5.Wait until you are invited to move up
Here is the final piece of advice. Don’t push the promotion. The worst possible career move is to ask to move up when you aren’t ready. When you’ve been doing the job for 2 or 3 years, start looking into what you want to do next. Assuming you’ve reached Journeyman level and become a reliable star for your manager, you can enlist your boss as an ally to get you ready. This is to get you ready, not make it happen. Most likely between year 3 and 6 one of three things will happen.

      Your boss will move up and pull you up with him. (Remember, he gets credit for your success too,,, if he’s got enough star players, his chance of moving up is substantially increased).
      Your boss or his boss will find an opportunity that fits your next step.
      An opportunity will move up will pop out somewhere laterally within the company.

Have you ever had a time when you wished you had been more patient before pushing for promotion or a new job?
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