Sunday, February 12, 2006

What's your e-slope?

Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my career and what has gotten me to where I am at today. I have been blessed with incredible luck in finding and the different roles I’ve had there. Over the last 2 ½ years I also attended to my MBA part-time at the Robert H. Smith School at University of Maryland.

I’ve coined a term called the “experiential slope” which in plain terms is how much you learn over a fixed amount of time at a given point in your career. It’s steep at, especially the last two years with b-school piled on as well.

Simple algebra, rise over run. Experiential slope – e-slope

Obviously everyone with career aspirations will focus on the steepest slope job possible, the problem is that most companies won’t or can’t put you on a steep slope. Why? One of two reasons.

One – They can’t because the business is failing or the politics or the organizational structure isn’t setup to challenge someone. They only offer flat slope lines.

Two – They aren’t willing to throw that much responsibility onto someone right upon hiring them. It could lead to complete failure. That’s why most people can increase their slope after they’ve initially proven themselves.

A steep “experiential slope” is to an employer’s advantage because it allows them to gain the maximum effort from an employee while more than likely not having to keep their compensation up with market trends or their value. Depending on your scenario you have different choices to make.

Under compensated with a steep slope – This is a tough position because you’re learning a lot quickly, but paid less than what you’re worth. In this position you need to evaluate whether the experience outweighs the opportunity cost of sticking with your current job. Although at the new job you may not be able to get back on that steep slope quickly. They are probably hiring you for your current experience and will want to maximize your ROI to the firm.

Fairly compensated with a steep slope – This is a great position to be in. You’re learning a ton and getting paid for it. Just keep an eye on the compensation piece. At some point you’ll either be under or overpaid.

Over compensated with a steep slope – Congratulations, you have the best of both worlds. Focus on making your slope steeper, otherwise you might find yourself out of a job.

What happens if your slope isn’t steep or just plain flat? Excel in your current role to the point that you can take on more responsibility. If you continue to excel you might just get your slope increased. Good companies will want to increase your slope, it’s in their best interests. If you can’t you need to find a new job, just remember to take your red Swingline with you.

What’s your slope?


Jay said...

Great post and concept. This definitely provides people with a framework to evaluate where they are and what their current situation offers. Employers could do well by understanding how changes in the organization impact individual's slopes and working on finding a slope that retains people.