How long should you work in a particular company?

By | November 22, 2014

I have the pleasure of meeting two CEOs quite some time back who shared something in common.

First, it took them nearly twenty five years to be a CEO.

Second, it is still the first job for them as they rose from rank and file up the corporate ladder.

Twenty five years.
That’s a quarter of a century.
Can you really stay in a company that long?
I’m amazed how an individual can stay that long as an employee of a company.
Its a different story if you own the company.
These people have made a remarkable achievement.
At the same time, I can’t help to wonder whether staying in a company that long is really a wise move after all.
Being dynamic and being adaptable are two key ingredients as we chart our own future in the corporate world.
When we are young, when there’s fire burning in our belly we tend to be more dynamic.
In our thoughts.
In our actions.
As we progresses with time, the element of stabiity take centre stage.
Hence dynamism is usually associated with the younger generation.
Therefore the younger generation competes wth huge dosage of dynamism and vibrant thinking while the older generation competes with experience and a sense of stability.
As an employer, it depends on what you are looking for.
Being adaptable is tough.
Changing environment and evolving needs force us to be adaptable in the best possible way to achieve the desired results.
Adaptabilty is usually associated with the younger generation.
That probably explains why many people who are already years in their job tend to lose the edge of adaptability as the sense of stability creeps in. This probably has to do with the change in their marital status or perhaps family importance has taken a centre stage.
The younger ones are generally more adventurous and are willing to take a greater level of risks.
The older ones will take risks, only if necessary especially the ones with family and personal monetary obligation.
Therefore, you will most likely find people tend to change jobs more frequently when they are much younger.
Not when they reach a level of stability defined by their progressive age or family and marital commitments.
This leads to the next question on how long should we stay in a job?
Generally the butterflies in our stomach will take a more pronounced effect after the third year in the same company.
And most likely if we stay in the company for another one or two years, you will find that you will most likely stay in the same company until the seventh or eighth year when you grapple with the same questions again.
The cycle usually repeats itself and we will go through the whole process again.
Then again, the effect varies with different groups of invididuals and the quantum of years mentioned here is only an indicative pattern that probably have some exceptions.
However, adaptability and dynanism is best cultivated when we move from one job to another after a period of three to five years.
Adaptable since we need to get used to a new working environment, managing the expectations of our boss and colleagues and new company culture and procedures.
Dynamic as we need to find new ways to inject in fresh ideas in the new company as we need to prove our reliability and credibility to the new colleagues and management.
Therefore the process of changing jobs only serves to sharpen our dynamic instincts and force us to be adaptable in the best posible way.
Staying in a job far too long might be too mundane and will not test our inherent adapatable skills and dynamic efforts.
We might even lose our competitive edge.
As for the definition of too long, it varies with different groups of people.
What is important, though is that in whatever job that we do, we are happy about it.
Being happy with our job means that we are not really working.
Its only when we drag ourselves in the morning to go to work then its a sign that we are no longer that motivated in our present job.
Worse is when it affects our private life as being happy in our job can have a positive effect on our private life or vice versa.
If that feeling occurs continously,that probably is the most appropriate signal that we should start looking for a new job.
Its a whole new ball game.
Its a brand new challenge.
The question is whether we are willing to embrace it wholeheartedly.
Or should we just continue to stay in our comfortable coccoon.
Its a tough choice.
Yet its part of growing up.


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