As best as I can summarize, I’ve had about 20 different jobs in my lifetime. While some of them are similar kinds of work, every work environment has a uniqueness. But there is also a consistency in adapting and growing on the job, and we might call this the “seasons of a job.”
As I’ve welcomed people into new positions, for which I’ve been in a supervisorial or management role, I try to encourage new hires to see these seasons and accept them. It also helps management lower expectations a bit as an employee fits into their new job.
I think there are four of these seasons: Familiarity. Efficiency. Mastery. Creativity.
• Familiarity While there is no particular length of time that must be associated with these seasons of work, familiarity usually takes about a year in most jobs. It is when all the basic details of the work environment must be learned, paperwork completed, nuances appreciated, and relationships developed and interpreted. Many companies have particular issues that arise during specific times of the year and one can only absorb the dynamics of these issues after a full cycle of twelve months.
• Efficiency During that first season, there will be a “growing into the job.” As this occurs, a person gains the experience needed to become efficient and proficient on the job. Decisions come quicker. Performance moves up. The needed relationships are cultivated and expertise enhanced. An employee who reaches this stage quickly and maintains a good work ethic is valuable.
• Mastery Longer term players in the workplace become the best contributors. They know and understand the culture. They clearly have established themselves as productive. Usually, a loyalty and commitment to the cause and the firm exist. Assuming productivity remains high, these workers are among the most trusted associates of an organization.
• Creativity An exceptional “value added” contribution by an employee is to have ideas for improvement, or visionary thoughts on expanded business opportunities. These are easily the coveted “keepers” because they energize the group and foster growth. Often, they are the hardest to keep because of their entrepreneurial nature. But they are worth their salt and investment.
Entry level jobs generally do not go beyond familiarity and efficiency. That’s okay. People should grow and then move on, unless there is due cause to grow within the company.
These seasons are not perfectly linear over time. A person can show early signs of creativity from the start. Allowing for the maturation of an employee, along with good coaching, will contribute to a very strong workplace and will reward those who stay on.
Life has its seasons as well. Especially our spiritual lives. The gifted pastor and Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll gave us a wonderful resource in one of his early writings. His devotional book, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, has 144 offerings to navigate these seasons.
Spring is a time of renewal and certainly a season our soul finds beautiful. Summer can be a season of warmth and rest. Fall is a season of change and perhaps reflection. And winter can be a time of discouragement with those cold winds chilling the soul.
Learning and adapting to the seasons can provide a great deal of maturity as well. The end result is a healthy soul and a great sense of God’s working. Swindoll’s book is a good read … for those in need.
Maybe there’s a rhyme and reason to every season. Eh?
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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to www.1160hope.com for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.