Staying the course – 41 years at the same company?

Last Friday, I attended a dinner party at which a colleague’s long-service at a certain august institution was celebrated. For the last forty-one years, and without any stoppage, this lady worked for one company. What I saw that evening was an accomplished yet humble woman – ‘service to the others’ was written all over her!

Vocations are built when we stay the course

Vocations are built when we stay the course

It is not common these days to find people that work at institutions for forty-one years. There are all sorts of reasons to justify why individuals can no longer serve for that long at one company; i.e. short product and service cycles at companies, shortening company life cycles, the millennial generation  and their tendency to quickly get bored and impatient with values that don’t align with theirs, the demise of the collective bargaining culture, privatization and the dwindling civil-service numbers, etc

The truth is, those that have it in them can still work at the same company for many years. It may not be forty-one years like the subject of this blog, but at the same time, not the less than three years that has become the norm amongst the millennials

As I warmed my seat at the dinner party, I could not help but look at my so-called long service and the litany of achievements, but from a slightly different lens. I and I assume many at the dinner party, were humbled. Yes, I have done so much for the world and will continue to do so; however, my service is insignificant when compared to the lady’s forty-one years, and I explain why below:

  • It dawned on me that this woman, started working before my fifth birthday – approaching my late forties now, I keep harping on about becoming of age and having done so much for the world; but have I?
  • The lady has worked for one employer for forty-one years – we can’t assume that it was an all smooth ride; however, she stayed the course and her forty-one years were cause for celebration last Friday
  • Staying the course when confronted with pressure – every day, I see a new generation of professionals, that expect Rolls-Royce landing and treatment at work. Over 91% of the Millennials will stay in a job for less-than-three-years. Apply a little bit of pressure on the millennials and the next topic on the table is ‘resignation’; don’t we all threaten to resign from time to time? Is it not true that in her forty-one years of service, this lady may have thought of quitting? If she did, how did she manage not to do so?
  • Organisations, even the classic ones at that, will always have their bumps and will bump into you. If you can’t stay the course now and you decide to move on to your next professional stage, are you sure the new stage will be pressure-free?
  • Whenever we change jobs to escape pressure at work, we need to ask ourselves if we more than the job are the problem
  • There was so much to learn from the forty-one-year journey – yet, it took deeper reflection for one to extract the learning, but those that bothered to do so, had so many good lessons to take home

The career climb:

Those of you in the 25-40 year age bracket, please understand that this is the span of life when one’s professional career is firmly shaped; if it were a plane, the latter is the ‘climbing’ phase.

As a professional, do you have what it takes to sustain your career ‘climb’? Many prospective high flying careers have been thwarted at the climbing stage; the values tool-box of the current 25-40 year professional lacks certain soft fundamentals that are critical to sustaining a career climb.

Employees that serve their entities for forty-one years, let alone ten, are becoming a very rare commodity. Using the same aeroplane analogy, the lady that is the subject of this blog has been descending into her ‘airport’ for the last few years and successfully ‘landed’ last Friday.

I hope that we live long enough to see the ‘landing’ of the millennials – can they survive the turbulent climb?

The Solution:

We at the Effectiveness lab, believe that those that have been effective at delivering consistent value to organisations and for many years have a particular kind of mental agility.

A vocation is not something we find; it’s something we grow—and grow into.”
Roman Krznaric

Indeed, Inc.com provides a rubric to stay the course at work, for the generation that is on a ‘career-climb’ phase:

Here are ten habits we would all do well to emulate.

  1. Control what you can before it controls you.
  2. Replace negative thoughts with productive thoughts.
  3. When the going gets tough, stay put.
  4. Stay committed but be flexible.
  5. Push yourself past your potential.
  6. Build your capacity for patience.
  7. Become aware enough to get outside of your mind and observe yourself.
  8. Think of yourself as a work in progress.
  9. Visualise what you want to achieve
  10. It is not about winning or losing but learning and growing

Do you have such habits?

It is the mentally tough people that the Effectiveness lab puts money on to stay the course and succeed at well-known companies; the mentally tough will successfully shape vocations as opposed to a career history

Well done lady for not only staying the course but for doing so for forty-one years!



Categories: People

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12 replies

  1. Thanks AG for the post, some employers are also looking for the so called millennial and award them so high only for them to resign before an year when they realize how much they are contributing to the organization. Note that some of worker stick with one employer not because of high salary but because the environment is conducive they get loans to educate children ,do masters ,PHd ,they go for vacations leave etc all that one need in life.

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  2. ABG, for millennials (simply call them the Y generation) – expecting them to stay 41 years at the same entity will be a big challenge for employers. They come to a work place with certain characteristics. A study done by PWC in 2011 (https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/services/consulting/documents/millennials-at-work.pdf) indicates the following characteristics for millennials.

    1. They are committed to their personal learning and development and this will remain their first choice benefits from employers.
    2. They are looking for a good work/life balance and strong diversity policies.
    3. This is a techno generation. This also comes with some special work approaches.
    4. Career progression is a top priority for millennials. They expect to rise rapidly through the organization.

    The above characteristics therefore call for a complete change of the traditional management and leadership tool box. As an example; supervisors must be ready to accept a watsapp text as a formal leave application and grant leave to the applicant without any delays.

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    • Seddu thanks for reading the blog – agree to the need to change supervision style – bosses should become digital

      But if the Millennials want to become seniors, and respected ones at that, they need to stay longer at one entity and prove themselves

      Hopping won’t help them to achieve this!! However, I fully appreciate that is the trend…..

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      • ABG, Millennials will indeed stay longer if;

        1. Personal learning is granted, through mentorship, coaching etc. Without adding value to their skills set, they will not stay longer. You will actually fire them before they resign for being non productive. Recent college graduates (in Uganda) can not do a thing without any kind of close supervision, their skills set is so below the bar – reason the President is encouraging them to go back to vocational schools after attaining their first degrees!
        2. A good work/life balance is granted. Allowing people to work flexi-time is a good example here. Make the workplace enjoyable!
        3. Provide technologies that facilitate work flow without necessarily have someone to sit in an office box. A virtual meeting comes in handy!
        4. The organizational infrastructure should allow rapid career progression. Accounting firms do this! Its is not very difficult to become a partner of an accounting firm just after 5 years of service.
        5. Etc…

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        • Agree esp. with 2 & 3; for number 4, yes, esp. if they are the right pedigree. However, they will never get to 4, without addressing number 1……

          Millenials need to carry their fair weight of the emerging paradox

          Or else, OD. experience shows that to every org. challenge, organisations will ultimately come up with an answer; the answer may force millennials to change their habits (they will simply be left hanging esp. now that they are approaching their 40’s) – companies may consider automation esp. since the next big thing is the Internet of Things (IOT), sub-contracts, etc

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  3. Thank you,

    Greetings from Ug, i am in Esella Country Hotel for the GED TOT workshop with gender champions…

    Best,

    NJ

    ________________________________

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  4. Thank you so much AG, this piece gives an opportunity for self-reflection; some of us had started doubting on whether it is not too much 10-20 years in same organization/company….

    Keep on sharing,

    Jeannette/CARE

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  5. Thank you ABG, Indeed your pieces provide a lot of insight and self-reflection that can help individuals or Institutions shape their destiny early enough. How I wish you had plans of sharing such with students at an early stage; or newly recruited employees during their orientation period. Regards, Vincent

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    • Hello Vincent – muuna oliiyo?

      Yes, when we reflect on what others have accomplished in life, we learn how much more we have to do before we’re counted amongst the great

      Mental agility and tenacity are quickly becoming key 21st century skills …. what can we do to impart these skills in the millennial lot?

      Thanks for reading the blog sebbo

      Like

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