3 Phases of Next Assignment Readiness Add Clarity To Personal Growth

Dreams, ambition, desires, aspirations . . . all define your destiny, a vision of somewhere you want to be.

As any Navigator worth their weight in sea salt knows, confirming your current position is paramount to setting a course and direction for your ultimate destination.

Next Assignment Readiness is a naturally occurring perspective within Personal Development Planning (PDP) that references your status, or position within the three phases of readiness . . . Competency, Proficiency, and Mastery.

Like other points of reference within a “fix”, this doesn’t alter your destination, but may clarify how you get there and when you can expect to arrive.

It all begins with a simple question . . .

Where Do You See Yourself?

The first six months had been a whirlwind of emotional discovery.

As part of the hotel’s Opening Culinary Team, as well as leaders new to the organization, we were treated to an accelerated journey through the Leadership Development curriculum. This introduced us to several facilitators from the Corporate Human Resources Team and inspired a personal vision of a future in Learning.

This newly formed awareness was shared with the Executive Chef during my mid-period Performance Review. Toward the end of our discussion, he asked “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

“Human Resources” was my response.

I can’t remember whether his forehead or fist landed on the desk first. It was too close to call.

“Where did that come from?” he asked, shaking his head in disbelief.

“I don’t know, it’s just a feeling” was offered in complete sincerity. After all, I had zero experience, having never worked in any capacity within Human Resources.

It was literally a vision, where I saw myself being happy and productive, contributing to the development of both associates and the organization.

The Executive Chef, as all great leaders do, committed to supporting me through the process. His final words of caution were:

“Be patient. That discipline is one tough nut to crack.”

A Step Toward Enlightenment

Buoyed by the hope of a new direction, my first commitment was a one-on-one meeting with the hotel’s Director of Human Resources.

While obviously concerned with my lack of experience, he offered this luminous advice:

“I know how you perform as a Culinary Leader,” he said. “Human Resources influences across disciplines. What I need to see is how you interact and perform as a member of the overall Leadership Team.”

His statement simplified a complex process: who I am (talent and character) would define potential for what I do (abilities and execution). My natural curiosity had a starting point.

With several years of leadership experience as a Coast Guard Officer and Small Business Owner, I was now building competency awareness, taking instinctive ability and applying it within the standards and expectations of a new culture.

My development focused on attaining a level of proficiency capable of influence across disciplines. I sought guidance from Executives and Front-line leaders outside of my culinary circle, forging relationships that would endure my future transition.

Embracing patience as a virtue, I was selected as Human Resources Manager for that same hotel almost three years later.

Some things are worth the wait.

Three Phases of Readiness

The experience provided framework for coaching individuals through their career and professional growth process.

Structured development within Next Assignment Readiness avoids the allure of impulse, perfecting your skills in each phase and providing the foundation for accomplishing great things in your career.


Development focused on building performance reflecting Standard Job Qualifications and Expectations. Every new assignment begins with Competency Readiness.

Think about it: Why did you change or accept a new position?

More than likely, you wanted to try something different, wanted to apply your skills in a new environment, or perhaps within an increased scope of authority.

As soon as you uttered “I accept your offer”, you became the “Newbie”. Whether recent college grad or seasoned executive, you were chosen for your potential and expected to adjust to a unique environment within an established community.

Your development in the Competency Phase is focused on learning how to do your job. Eyes and ears are your best resources as you unlearn old methods and standards, embrace the reality of new expectations, and begin to model behaviors aligned with successful performance.

You have the desire, the potential, and even the experience. But while in the Competency Phase, there is much for you to learn.


Demonstrate capacity and behavior to take on larger, more complex roles.

In Proficiency, your development shifts from building on the basics, to embracing performance. You begin to understand the Big Picture, routinely role modeling behaviors aligned with execution, influencing the growth and development of team members around you.

Perfecting skills within this phase may include taking on more challenging roles. You still reside in the same level of the organization, but your day-to-day activities and responsibilities become more complex.

For example, you may currently manage a unit that generates annual revenue of $1 million. Transitioning to a unit that generates annual revenue of $2 million involves a similar skill set, but exposes you to a faster pace, heightened sense of accountability, and perhaps a larger staff.

The benefit of this move is the opportunity to display your potential for “more” . . . more authority, more responsibility, more trust in your ability to think and act strategically.


Demonstrated role model behavior, capacity and perspective of individuals at the Next Level.

The separation between Proficiency and Mastery can be traced to a simple shift in perspective: you’re no longer delivering a message, you’re now driving strategic direction through role model behavior, holding others accountable, and contributing insight to influence the ultimate direction of your operation and team.

Moving to the Next Level benefits both you and the organization.  

Achieving Mastery does not come packaged with an immediate job offer. Continue to grow and develop your skills, consider lateral exposure for increased awareness, and be ready when the right opportunity presents itself.

You’ve earned it.

Clarity, Confidence, Competence

Next Assignment Readiness, when combined with other perspectives such as input from Coaches and Mentors, or identifying Vital Behaviors, Strengths, and Cracked Eggs, answers the question: Where am I?

The resultant clarity identifies your most immediate and impactful Development Area, simplifies the Action Planning process, and generates a Personal Development Plan that targets specific and purposeful growth.

Patience is a key ingredient throughout personal development. Investing enough time to fulfill the expectations of a Readiness Phase builds confidence through competence.

Rapid advancement may actually eclipse your growth process, obscuring your vision with performance expectations you were not adequately prepared for. Over the years, several accomplished Executive Leaders have shared the one thing they would have done differently: spent more time in each of their positions, learning to master one skill set before moving on to another.

Consider embracing the step right in front of you. Stretch Goals are one thing, but focusing attention on Mastery when you’re still building Competency is not a recommended investment of time or energy.

While bookshelves are filled with stories about those who wouldn’t dare wait, examine your personal journey and decide when the time is right for you.

Just remember . . . there is no substitute for experience.

Readiness – The Final Frontier

One benefit of bringing out the long scope to review a Next Level position is aligning passions and aspirations with reality. Many assignments become more administrative and less hands-on as you climb the ladder.

Engaging in discussion and exercises that determine Next Assignment Readiness clarify a course relative to your dreams and desires.

Whether building necessary skills and adapting to a new environment within Competency, embracing the Big Picture and role modeling performance of Proficiency, or confirming your potential for “more” in Mastery, patience will be key to generating confidence that results in solid growth and development.

Some things are simply worth the wait.

Thank you for spending your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!  

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