Here’s a great topic to debate with colleagues, friends, family or even fellow passengers if you fancy livening up your daily commute.

What is the optimum time for a person to remain in the same job?

Does it depend on the job? Does it depend on the person? The organisation? The person’s ambitions? Their level of competence? Their knowledge? Is there an answer or are there simply too many variables?

I actually went through this debate with a friend of mine recently –she’s regretting not moving from her current role a few years ago when she had a chance, a missed opportunity perhaps.

Go on then. Off you go. Have your debate and then come back to see how your thoughts line up with the rest of the article.
Let’s start with the person who has been in the same role for a number of years. I can see lots of advantages from this. They know the organisation inside out, they’ve covered all sorts of situations several times over and they provide a wealth of knowledge across all sorts of topics. Tried and tested, trusted and reliable.

Think of a surgeon. Would you rather be operated on by the guy who has performed lots of operations and encountered all manner of issues in building up his experience or the guy straight from college with a brand new scalpel and a photograph in his hand?

Equally there can be disadvantages. The ‘long termer’ may not be so open to the introduction of new ideas, they may even be reluctant to change. They may have even got to the point where maintaining the status quo becomes their top priority and their ambition to change or develop has diminished.

Conversely there are people who like to change jobs regularly. Once again there are advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, a fresh pair of eyes, fresh challenges, or a new approach and fresh ideas may introduce new ways of doing things.
One might argue, however that on the down side such people may not have the benefit of in depth experience due to their limited exposure to the subject matter.

And what of enthusiasm? Does one’s enthusiasm for a job diminish over time? How does this affect the performance of the role holder? Most of us like new challenges and to be fair, these don’t come about purely through job changes because many roles include development work – make this better, make it bigger, make it faster, so the landscape of the role is constantly evolving and this helps keep things interesting. As a consequence ones’ enthusiasm can be sustained over a considerable time. It’s when jobs get into the same, regular cycle our enthusiasm typically starts to wain.

So, how was your debate? Did you reach a conclusion? Is there one?

My experience is that there are so many variables you have to take each case on it’s merits. I’ve seen people stay in roles too long, I’ve seen people leave roles too early, I’ve seen people make a dramatic difference virtually on arrival and I’ve seen people hop from role to role without actually doing anything!

So whether you are considering your own position or those of your colleagues there’s much to consider in deciding whether it’s time for a change.

June 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm
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