I just completed 20 years of my professional life today. I worked in 4 different organisations to complete this milestone; except me nobody else will recognize this moment unlike in an organization setting where tenures are recognized with trophies and goodies. I am a touch uncomfortable wishing others on their work service anniversaries as much as accepting people complimenting for mine 🙂
I reckon its right to recognise the contribution of people in terms of what they achieved or the efforts than the time spent. When I hand over service anniversary mementos, I seek to know the challenging times they faced and how they overcame that. My favorite question is “how many times you felt like quitting in this journey “The character and grit people demonstrate to fight tough customers, non-appreciating bosses, competing peers, and non-favorable appraisals amidst their personal challenges is what interests me. Otherwise number of years in an organisation is just ‘time spent’ for me.
Many times we mistake the number of years spent as experience, whereas it could just be service or tenure. Some of us get emotional about the tenure as a great service to our employer, whereas today’s organisation measures our critical impact over that period of time.
One of the organisations I joined had many people with tenure. In my initial days people used to flaunt their tenure as a great favor to their employer. “kitne aaye, kitne gaye, hum ne sab dekh liya” was the welcome statement to me. One of my colleagues even asked about what plans I have for him as he was in the company for many years and he claimed “sab kaam kar liya”
The old bandicoot tag is only relevant if we have evolved with the organisation needs. Today’s organisations are as disloyal as the employees when it comes to choosing to recognise their next genre of talent. Like employees leave for greener pastures, organisations also tend to favour people who have critical experience and skills
If the experience gained is incremental every year in terms of skill addition or critical in terms of technical know-how, it’s likely that organisation will also be happy about the tenure of the employee.
“I have been in the organisation for so many years, I have stayed back with the hope that I will get to become ‘x’ one day”, many people who have joined after me have gone ahead of me. I don’t want the time I have invested in staying loyal to become detrimental to my growth” told one of my colleagues to the HR manager. HRM wanted to be nice and said wait, your time will come, nobody confronts the situation with reality check on whether the tenured employee was ready in terms of skills, mobility, performance when the opportunities came along.
Sometimes we keep writing our own JDs and career paths oblivious to organisation plans and directions. Our own passion to certain paths and roles render us dysfunctional to some otherwise obvious growth plans.
My input to meaningful service anniversaries. Try to have some skill addition plan every year which you and the organisation can both vouch for. Be more adventurous in terms of being part of new initiatives, start reading at least 30 pages a day, begin some new routines every year to accommodate new plans, take some short term online course which allows you to discover more areas outside your comfort zone.
If you just continue to do your job; count your salary increments, incentives and savings, your experience can only articulated in ‘years’ not in terms of your true abilities and potential.
If you are going to wait till the organisations bestow you with the best designations, salaries, new projects to make your tenure meaningful it’s gonna be a long wait.
Next time I am going to have a career conversation with my colleagues I may not answer what’s available next, rather I may want to know what are the time and material investments they have made or going to make. I rather want them to display the skill repository than showcasing the service anniversary badge.
I still have not been able to list what I have added to my armory in the last four years. Maybe I will be able to articulate that to my bosses or to my future employers. Can’t think of any other forums where I can boast of that.
Maybe if you write your CV every year in terms of Skills added, you may get a true picture of where you stand.
Can we celebrate Skill Anniversaries?
Career Anniversaries need to go beyond the Bouquets!