Getting ready for the postseason

At first glance you may think I have confused this blog with my sports blog, Southern Sports View, but I really have not.  When most of you think of the post-season you will think of sporting events such as baseball, basketball, hockey or football.  Here in Nashville we have just finished the post season with respect to Hockey as the Predators lost in the second round to those mangy dogs from Phoenix.  For those who really know me you will realize that the post season is just getting started for my favorite team, the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team.  There is not much we would not do to see the Dores play and they start their postseason action this Friday in Raleigh, NC.

What is the post season in the world of work?  Are there seasons of work?  I think there are and here is how you could approach your career with such mentality and view.

Before we move on we need to define the difference between the regular season and the post season.  All teams play in the regular season.  During the season there are peaks and valleys and in most cases all of the teams get to play a similar schedule.

The post season takes only those who do well in the regular season and it takes those teams and pits them against the best of the best to see who really is the best or who performs at a high level.  Those teams who really know their craft will excel in the postseason.   

I see the career post season a little differently.  In my definition of the career post season the player/team advances to a league where they have more input and more control in what they do and who they do it with.  Post season players have spent many years learning the tools of their trade and are now in the “free agent” mode so that they can really focus on those things they like best and do best.  Post season players are typically in consulting roles either internally or externally to organizations and most of their work is project based.

Let’s take a look at my career and I’ll break it into seasons:

  • 1981-1994                 Spent 14 years working in progressively more responsible role in the manufacturing world.  Final role was a manager of manufacturing for a thriving Japanese-American joint venture in the automotive world.
  • 1994-2000                Spent 6 years as the head of HR for a well known and sizeable non profit in the area.  This was my first senior level HR role and it introduced me to the world of HR as well as to the non profit sector
  • 2000-2006                Spent 6 years as the head of HR for an engineering services firm.  This period prepared me for the professional services world and it also gave me great perspective on the design and construction sector of our economy
  • 2006-2010                Worked with another executive search firm doing retained search and leadership consulting.  This season helped me understand how to develop and perform search work and also how to be a more effective consultant to my clients
  • 2010-present         Running my own executive search and consulting firm.  This is my post-season where I have combined my experiences in the roles prior to do what I really want to do and do it effectively in most cases

Based on my earlier definition I became a post season player in 2006.  At this time I chose to become more project based and less tied to any one organization.  There is a large amount of risk inherent in this because the post season player is one who is operating at the need and desire of the other teams.  I could not be successful in the post season without having performed well in my earlier seasons.  In addition, the work and experience in my earlier seasons has a direct influence in the leagues I perform in now.

Consider this-great hockey players would not be successful in the NBA post season and great football players will typically not be playing in the baseball World Series.

In the same light, post season players who are successful have had stellar and lengthy careers in the industries they now work in.  Having a post season player with manufacturing experience does you little good if he/she is operating in the medical device or healthcare world.

Post season players operating in design and construction find it hard to be effective if they have only financial or manufacturing experience.

I believe our world of work is ripe for more post season players, but the right players are those with the skills and experiences that fit the season.  Before you apply your tools of the trade as a post season player, be sure you are in your league.

Don’t get caught swinging a hockey stick at a 90 mile per hour fastball.  Your odds of success will not be high.

What do you think about the post season player genre?

Do you want to be a post season player?  Which league is the best for you?