Levels within pathways
If your pathway is unlikely to change (aside from the fact that pretty much everyone starts their career as a helper, for example, stocking shelves in the supermarket, and that most professionals start their careers as specialists), how do you develop yourself within your pathway?
In each pathway, you start in a junior position. As you get one or two years of experience under your belt (but for professionals, this can be up to four years), you grow into a medior. Most of your career will be spent at the core level of your pathway. This is the level where you know all the ins and outs of your expertise and can tackle pretty much any problem that presents itself independently. Only an estimated 20% of people will eventually become seniors. Seniors are not defined by age or years of working experience but by their attitude. They’re often very involved in mentoring less experienced colleagues, and they need to act on a level that’s beyond that of their own pathway.
Core questions for the Junior are Suitable or Unsuitable? Because knowledge and problem-solving capabilities do not always correlate, we use the junior phase to determine whether or not an employee is suitable for the learning curve they were trained for. The duration of the junior phase varies with the level. Basic employees and All-rounders will need less than a year to prove their independence. Specialists normally need a year, while the junior phase for Professionals lasts roughly 4 years (!). During the junior phase, an employee will learn to form a picture of the requirements and wishes demanded by their contribution. They will apply their knowledge in a practical environment. The colleague learns that the work:
- has to have a purpose
- that the degrees of freedom are limited
- that they have to work within a certain budget and time period
- that work cannot be half finished or not completely right
- that the colleague has to work with others to reach his goal, etc.
By listening carefully, the colleague also learns not to start working before it is clear what exactly is expected of them. In this way the colleague will learn to work independently and as part of a team, and to use the customer's question as a starting point. This last point influences the work schedule and quality (a deal is a deal) and proper compliance with regard to the execution of the assignment. In short, the junior phase is a shaping period during which the Junior learns how to work within the organization and what they have to conform to. A part of this path is also a clear assessment: suitable or unsuitable.
The key concepts for a Medior are independence and discovery. The Medior has been found suitable to operate independently at the level for which they were hired. During the junior phase, the colleague agreed with the organization's working methods and the associated working discipline. They can work on an assignment independently. Within those boundaries, the Medior will now look for the best way to shape their knowledge and insights. The Medior will try out different styles and test them with more experienced colleagues or co-workers in other disciplines. The colleague will talk with them about insights, techniques and developments. The Medior is interested in other people's positions within their work area and the impact they have on their own work. The Medior can now clearly indicate where that impact is and where synergy can be found. They will become convinced that (interdisciplinary) cooperation will lead to better results. In short, by listening to other people, the Medior will realize more and more what they are doing. The Medior will also actively search for partnerships to showcase themselves as a person with their own ideas. Gradually, this leads to the colleague being recognized and acknowledged by their environment, and the co-workers will ask for the Medior and work with them.
The core concepts are: versatility, maintaining control and proactivity. Versatility relates to the large diversity of problems the Core officer can assess, indicate or diagnose and translate into the right approach for the presented issue. Versatility also has to do with the broad employability of the officer within his own discipline, even when they are considered to be a specialist. And finally, versatility relates to the process, the chain and the playing field in which they operate. This means that the officer does not only focus on the specific case at hand (product, customer or client), but also on the entire environment that influences the causes of the issue or the final result. Maintaining control over the process directly relates to this. Maintaining control means that the officer has complete control over the final result. To do this, the officer needs to have a proactive attitude and anticipate matters and developments before they lead to insurmountable problems. The core level also means that the officer has completed a full educational program in their area of expertise.
Core concepts for the Master officer are focus, multicausality and business development. Focus means to achieve cohesion between several directions to a solution that together forms the approach to a problem that is related to business in one way or another. Within their area of expertise, a master has reached the end of his learning curve. That area of expertise focuses on optimizing similar systems, processes and projects. The Master has made the last, ultimate step that enables them to analyze matters on a problem-solving level higher than their colleagues. The master officer oversees the entire spectrum of possibilities, notices touching points with other subjects and developments taking place and brings them all together. That is also what we call focus. That is why the master needs to know about all the ins and outs of their specialty, the Master has to have the experience and why they need to be interested in new developments that are taking place in their area of expertise and how they apply to his organization. In other words: The Master can apply the knowledge of their area of expertise in a broader sense than their colleagues can. The Master officer will handle the most difficult problems, even those that lack policy or where the policy is insufficient. Because of their approach and the consequent solutions, they can influence that policy. In that sense, we talk about business development.