Tag Archives: professional development

Ready Or Not?

Harvest Ready Fruit
Harvest Ready Fruit

Each kind of fruit has its own harvest-ready days in this season and many, noticeably,come to full readiness beginning mid-summer. Consider the “delicious time” of a career. Early harvest is a fortuitous time to stop and carefully examine the earliest produce of the first 30-60 days of a new job. For many employers, this is a “trial” period. Predictably, any kind of trouble in these days could mean loss of an entire harvest later.

Employers expect certain kinds and quality of results and development in workers within a specific time frame. Employees expect certain kinds and qualities of satisfaction and advancement in a specific time frame. There do exist situations in which the sampling of a worker’s produce is done way too early. Certain results/professional development need longer times. However, especially for workers in the lower tiers of the workplace terrace, the expert eye of a supervisor is often on-point.

As has been mentioned before there are expectations (new hire may or may not be told) already in place to be met. The 30-60-90 day plan from the employer’s viewpoint is intended to predict a potentially outstanding harvest or a productivity disaster (costs the company lost time and financial gain).

  • Employers want to know as early as possible whether or not to continue investing time and expertise (care, attention and fertilizer) in developing an employee.
  • Employees want to know as early as possible whether or not the workplace soil (opportunity for growth and learning) will support ongoing development.

Hopefully, the employee knows how she/he will be judged and has before accepting the offer presented the employer with a “preview”–the 30-60-90 day plan–the seed packet illustration of what kind of bloom to expect. In the garden and in careers certain questions have to be answered.

Here are the questions: Does the late summer sample show a potentially good harvest or a poor one? Is this tree/flower/worker going to produce a prize winner or an average bloom?

Is the fruit ready or not?

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Watching, Weeding and Feeding: Career Care II

shallow root flower bed surrounding larger tree
shallow root flower bed surrounding larger tree

Watching For The Needs of Growth and Expansion

In the height of summer, things grow fast in the garden. Growth needs to be carefully monitored.  Some plants will need repotting or relocation because they have outgrown the starter seedling pot or the small bed. One thing  I learned from growing plants in captivity is that a gardener can damage a plant by allowing it to become “pot bound”. This is a condition where the growing roots fill the pot and then twist in  on themselves. If trans-potted too late, leaves wilt, yellow and fall. This is what a plant with overcrowded roots does: attempt to stunt its own growth to suit the space.

Babies outgrow their clothes so fast in their first year of development that they change sizes at least 3 times that year. The same goes for growing children’s feet. Those tiny toes can become crooked, curled under or grow on top of each other trying to make the best use of  limited space in an outgrown shoe.

Just as human beings grow physically, we also grow spiritually and intellectually. Professionals can become “pot bound” too. Suddenly, there is an awareness of being “crowded” in a current position. A new hire in fast professional development mode will become uncomfortably, unnaturally bent over trying to avoid hitting the “ceiling”.  We have a big tree trying to grow inside a little house. There always comes a time in a job that the “newness” wears off and there is a desire for more challenge: space to grow deep and spread wide. We get bored with the limited tasks that only need a beginner’s skills.  I remember being so bored on one job that I fought to stay awake at work. There is a passionate drive to know more, to explore and to expand.

A bigger corporate pot might solve the problem until signs of outgrowing it appear again (such as boredom and restlessness). At last, some professionals may seek space through moving up into  management. Some ferns make their homes very well clustered in the spaces at the roots of trees. Big trees, however, need space. Some professionals who understand the limits of their corporate pot to tolerate farther expansion may need to transplant out to find more space–another company.

O, That Summer Would Last A Year!

JFK rose
rose cultivar “JFK”

Life is like a non-stop celebration as we begin the season dedicated to rapid, over-the-top growth. When we were younger we may have wished summer would never end. This is the most productive season of life in a career and in a job. Once past the gawky, springtime “new grad/intern” stage, we burst out of formal schooling’s constraints. Familiarity with the rhythms of “the routines and rituals” at work makes confidence grow like morning-glory vines. After the “new-hire” stage we apply the learning we have been so greedily sopping up and hard buds soften into flowers.

Summer allows nothing to hide. There is too much color; too much fragrance; too much movement; too much noise. Everybody notices the new clothes, louder laughter and longer strides in the hallways. As the social meanings of being introverted or extroverted come into full display in meetings and in teams it pays to have a deep, personal understanding of which kind of cultivar one is. While roses reign in their sunny spaces, ferns prefer the comfort of the maple’s shadow. Both thrive in different places in the same garden.

I love indoor container gardening as well as outdoor gardening so I learned–sometimes the hard way–to honor the fact that some tropical plants hate being in drafts and desert-origin plants are natural-born sun worshipers. There is no shame about being either one. So it is with a workforce.

Savvy human capital professionals  understand how to choose the right people for the right positions in a company. Workers who understand what kind of environment they need for personal optimum growth will choose a company “garden” wisely.

“Hardening Off” a Career

seedlings meet the sun
seedlings meet the sun

For seed sprouted indoors, all growing conditions were perfect. There was no wind to oppose the young plant and the soil was a perfect mixture created to encourage and optimize root system development. To continue development, however, the plant must be able to thrive outdoors. So, after we are convinced that Jack Frost really is gone for the season, we take the seedlings begun in the basement out into the sun. In my very first gardening season, I remember how disappointed I was seeing the plants I so carefully pampered bowed down in a fainting wilt. However, I discovered from reading a few gardening magazines that there was no cause for despair. Within the week, those drooping stems got strong enough to stand upright in the spring breeze and the leaves joyfully reached for the sun.

New careers are like that too. A new practitioner in any profession, no matter the chronological age, will droop in those first days in the sun of real-world working conditions. New hires will come home energy depleted. Children may cry after the first day of school. There will be missteps, mistakes, embarrassing moments and missed opportunities. All of it is part and parcel of professional and personal development. Beginners are beginners whether babies or mature adults and all beginners must take on the deeper work of spring: developing enough emotional and physical muscle equal to opposing gravity and winds to be able to stand up and grow.

Midwinter: The Sun’s Return

moon at the north poleThe solstice of winter approaches and it is no time to lie inert–not in the career and not in life.

The earth may seem to be merely rolling over in her sleep, but appearances can deceive. Actually, this is the midpoint of life’s Big Changes. This is the place where a chain of discrete but related, significant actions happen that result in the cumulative effect others will see as a “total change”. All this work goes unseen by the sun. This is the time of putting on the finishing touches of the new form of career existence.

Put ear close to the soundless speech of midwinter, the time of active dreaming. This could be called the period of REM sleep in a career change. This is when practicing and integrating acquired new knowledge happens; when we actualize and activate the dream in practical ways with purpose and  motivation combined with intention. This is the stage when we make the dream real; when we take and compete the tests which prove the strength of our new competence and the readiness to go into the work using all the newly acquired skills.

In Autumn, decisions to change are made after assessing spring and summer’s produce. By the fires of memory in early winter, we indulge deep thought, consideration and meditation on the meaning of what we gained from examination of seasons gone by.  All this goes on while healing and repairing from earlier hurts, coming to the acceptance of the “new reality” stage in the mourning process and the re-warming of purpose grown cold. Then, right in the middle of imagining a new future harvest, while rifling through the seed catalogs of the new desired result, while envisioning that result, drawing the images and wisely planning the needed steps to gain that result, we look up and see that the sun is returning!

The time of silence is coming to an end. Every detail of the plans for bringing that new career into existence  must finalized. All the “seed beds” of progressive, positive career movement must be drawn in their places and ready to be laid.  All the seeds must be chosen and ready to be planted–Allies to be acquired must be located. Their names, faces, and positions must be assembled. Direction must be be clear. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Spring is not far away. More and deeper snow is ahead, but in mid-winter the vision of the new career spring must be in place and strong.