Whether you are starting your career or have been in one for a very long time. The chances are you have already received a lot of advice on what to do and what not to do. You might even think you have it all figured out.
I spent fifteen years of my career managing and leading teams. I hired hundreds of managers, and other people in the organizations that I worked in.
Here is the one piece of advice that I personally never received, nor have I read or heard about others giving this advice.
You should look at all positions you take as three-year contracts with your employer. I would even tell them this. Now, some employers are old school and they think you will stay there forever, so proceed with caution with sharing that information. But I personally would love it if someone says, “I will be in this position for three years. I will become really good at it, and then I will seek other positions.”
Why three years?
In any position you take it is going to take to you some time to figure it out. I say after a year in a position you will have a pretty good gage on what the position is and how to do it effectively. If it takes you longer than that, than I would encourage you to learn how to speed it up.
In that second year, you should get better at the job you are doing. You now have enough information and knowledge to probably even make changes to what you are doing and can contribute to making your position better.
In that third year, you should start to seeing a lot of results from the changes you have made and you are really fine tuning all of the things you have learned from your previous two years. You now really have your position figured out and are probably even helping people who are doing similar jobs as yours.
From my experience doing the same job past three years doesn’t have very many advantages. You do not become incrementally better at the job beyond three years. You learned what you need to learn, and if you are good at the job, you have proven that you can get results in that position.
You may be thinking “I have been in leadership for many years and I learn everyday.”
When it comes to positions such as sales and leadership.
I belive that your first leadership position is usually leading and managing a small team of people who are performing a job that you used to do yourself. After three years of managing those people. If you have proven that you can get them to perform and deliver results, you should be looking for your next position, which would include managing other managers.
Leading a group to perform a task is one skill set, and leading a group of managers to get others to perform a task, is a different skill set. Again, the three-year contract fits.
If you are in sales, you are learning daily how to get better at your position. You are constantly seeking new ways to deliver results. The job itself requires you to constantly learn and develop. But eventually you will get things in a good place, with a great pipeline.
Unless you go into sales management, you should strongly consider looking at selling different products that may require a different sales process or selling to a different set of buyers.
The goal in life should be skill development not years in a job or in a position. The more skills you can develop the more marketable you become. And what happens typically in a company is most people, including myself. Is we get into a position and we are so excited to have that position, the money that goes with it, the prestige of the position or the company, and we spend the next five, ten, or even fifteen years doing that same position. We may grow, or we may think we are growing, but in reality you are really just doing the same things over and over.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my advice.
To your success and your future.