Is Your “Tour of Duty” Over In Your Current Job?

black business woman holding clipboard with colleague on backgro A tour of duty is not just for soldiers. Ben Casnocha, co-author of The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, shares the idea that the phrase tour of duty can be a good way to look at an employer and employee relationship that has time-limited mutual commitments with focused goals and clear expectations that benefit both parties.

I recently saw Casnocha speak at The Ken Blanchard Companies’ 2015 Summit. He explained that a tour of duty was a modern day approach to engaging top talent who will innovate and take an organization to new heights. This approach goes hand in hand with an organization’s need to innovate—to embrace employees’ entrepreneurial instincts to do things differently and stretch beyond current thinking. Not only did this approach resonate with me personally, it also got me thinking about the coaching we do with our client leaders. In coaching, leaders often work with their coach on stretching for their next promotion; essentially, their next tour of duty.

Coaching and tour of duty concepts are both catalysts for growth—growth that catapults both employee and employer to new heights. It’s about lifetime employability versus lifetime employment.

Wondering if you could use some growth in your career? Start by answering these questions:

  • Are you stuck in the doldrums at work?
  • Do you have the right amount of demanding work that pushes you to stretch and learn?
  • Have you mastered the role you are currently serving and want more?

If you answered yes to any of these, you likely don’t need to do much additional analyzing—you know when it is time.

Now, move from acknowledgement to planning and discovery. Begin by having a conversation with your manager. You must position with your manager that you have a desire to discover your next role—it’s not going to come looking for you, so you need to take responsibility. A few things to consider:

  • Make a list of your strengths. What is your value contribution to the organization? What have you accomplished to be leveraged elsewhere in the company?
  • Get clarity on your passion. If you are not clear about what excites you in the field of work, spend time figuring it out. Look back over the last year and make a list of times when you were firing on all cylinders and loving the work you were doing. What was it?
  • Create options. Do you want to do the same job in a different area, or to be with different people? Is there a part of the organization that has a need not currently being served where you could add value? Should you look outside of the organization? Of course, organizations don’t want to see their top contributors leave. But it shouldn’t be a surprise when it happens if those contributors are not enabled to learn and grow.

What else would you recommend a leader do in discovering and finding their next tour of duty? What other resources or advice do you have for people who want to learn and grow?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

About the Author

Joni WicklineJoni Wickline is Vice President, Professional Services with The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read Wickline’s posts as a part of Coaching Tuesday here at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

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