I was cleaning out the fridge last night. Lettuce that went bad…..again. Milk gone sour. Cantaloupe that had seen its day. Bread that belonged under the microscope in a seventh grade science lab. This got me thinking….
Maybe I should stop buying groceries and just eat out.
Now while that thought did cross my mind and it crosses my mind every time I throw away rotten food I started thinking about shelf lives and expiration dates. But this time I was not thinking about shelf lives of food…..
I found myself wondering if employees or positions have shelf lives?
Could it be that an employee might just run his or her course at an organization? Is there a time where everyone needs to acknowledge that it is time to move on; that there is no more to learn or do; that an employee has reached his or her potential.
And if that is the case is it the employee who has not grown or is it the role has not changed and provided challenge and interest? Is it the employee who has not grown or the company that has not recognized the valuable contribution this person can offer? Is it that the employee has completed the assigned task that he or she was hired to complete and now it is time for someone else to learn that task?
Do employees have shelf lives? Do roles within organizations have shelf lives? Do organizations have shelf lives? Do we really want people to stay around for life? Is that a good thing? Used to be the case, but I’m not so sure any longer. Does comfort lead to lackluster performance by organizations?
In my former life I was an accounting & finance type. At the end of the month or quarter we had work to do; close the books and report on the results – which were usually tweaked anyway to make people or the company look better. After doing this three or four times there wasn’t much to learn; to do; to get excited about. Quite frankly it became an inconvenience; long hours to do mundane t asks; and arrive at a number predetermined by some executive. Not fun. Not exciting. My shelf life was about six months. At that point I’m thinking being flushed, tossed down an elevator chute or into a garbage disposal may have been a good thing. But no one offered me those options. So my shelf life was usually taken into my own hands by finding a new shelf.
But what if it wasn’t that way. What if I knew at the beginning that there was a shelf life and at the end of that shelf life I would be moved into another role and had an opportunity to learn and contribute elsewhere in the organization. I didn’t have to wait for someone to die or leave or get canned. It would just happen. Not saying I would have ended up in the same place I am today; but I do know I would have been a much happier employee.
I really do propose that we put shelf lives on certain positions. I think they’re valuable, needed, long overdue and could achieve powerful results.
So here’s a couple of questions for you to think about it. Has the shelf life of your current position long since expired? What’s being done about it – by either you or the organization?