Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Change Your Environment

As people grow in maturity in their jobs, the way they interact with their environment changes.  I have had this discussion a few times during the recent review cycle so it's probably time to pass it along to a wider audience.  As I see it, there are three stages most people go through during their career.

Stage 1 - Rejection

A new person in an environment will often chafe at that environment.  Things aren't the way they would do it.  They find it wrong and complain about it.  Sometimes loudly.  The trouble is, they don't do anything about it.  Complaining doesn't help.  Suggestions do.  At this lowest maturity level, suggestions are rare.

Stage 2 - Acceptance

The next stage of maturity is acceptance.  A person at this stage stops complaining.  They see value in the way the system works and willingly participate.  People at this maturity level still consider the rules to be an external force.  They are to be followed, but not questioned. 

Stage 3 - Change

By stage 3, the person is comfortable enough in their environment to begin changing it.  He sees something imperfect and, rather than complaining like a stage 1 person or just putting up with it like a stage 2, he takes steps to improve the environment.  Mature employees will come with solutions, not complaints.

Use these levels to help mature in your career.  Assess where you are at and then decide on the behaviors that will take you to the next level.  Many times I've seen people bogged down in their careers and not understanding how to advance it.  The trouble was often that they were not taking initiative.  They were in stage 2 and not progressing to stage 3.  When was the last time you went to your manager with a solution?  Not a complaint, but a way to improve the system?  What did you do when it wasn't immediately adopted?  The right response is to persevere.  If the change is worth making, it is worth expending energy on.

1 comment:

  1. I *hope* I'm in stage 3 by this point, but I certainly remember being in stage 1.  Right now I go into projects trying to embrace the existing tools (or finding ones which exist, if that's my task), but I also try to steer them in a way that makes sense to me.
    One thing I wonder about is if I would be able to convince my stage 1 self to do the same ...