Monthly Archives: June 2014

How Long Is Too Long At One Job?

After the end of each day of class at Developing History Leaders @ SHA and after we had returned from dinner many of us gathered with cold beers in hand for an informal round table discussion (inevitably this gathering became known as Beer Circle). While the day time training with highly regarded professionals was immeasurably valuable, the evening round table discussion with peers had its own incalculable importance.

One evening we entered into a heated debate that soon had all of our wheels turning.

The discussion centered on these burning questions:

  • How long is too long at one job?
  • If you stay in one place for too long are you stunting your potential career growth?
  • Do people look at you as some sort of failure, with an inability to move and progress, if you stay with the same organization or office for too long? (and what is too long?)

That discussion and those questions continue to intrigue me. I’m not sure that there are right answers. However, as a person who is still facing down 20-30 years of work and who wants to be as personally successful as I can be while also making significant improvements at any organization for which I work, you can bet that these questions continue to bubble somewhere close to the surface of my mind.

A recent article on LinkedIn questioned whether Mary Barra, who has been at GM for 33 years, could truly make innovative and daring leadership moves given her longevity with the corporation. The article argued that after 33 years, Barra certainly has become enamored to aspects of the corporation that she likely may not consider altering—and, that inability or unwillingness to make those changes is damaging to GM.

Unlike the questions we raised around Beer Circle which mostly swirled around the health of our careers, the questions regarding Mary Barra and GM swirl around the health of the organization. And, regardless of the perceived success of an employee, they leave me wondering:

  • Do organizations hamper their organizational effectiveness by encouraging employees to stick around too long? (again, what is too long?)
  • Should organizations continue to give longevity awards? (effectively encouraging the idea that staying around as long as possible is the best case scenario for employee and organization)
  • Should leaders encourage good employees to leave their organizations in an effort to maintain fresh thinking within the organization?
  • Is the institutional knowledge of the old timers a good thing? Or a bad thing?
  • Is a change in position or office within the same organization enough?

While working diligently for our organizations, are we simultaneously doing those organizations a disservice by sticking around too long? What is the value of longevity and company loyalty?

To read the LinkedIn article, click here and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mark Sundlov (SHA ’11), Ohio History Connection

What’s Greater Than the Sum of Our [DHL@SHA] Classes??

The Developing History Leaders @ SHA experience, of course!! And in order to help make the experience available to history professionals who need additional support, the Denny O’Toole Scholarship was started by the SHA Alumni Committee a few years ago.  To date, this scholarship has sent 3 folks to DHL@SHA who might not have been able to attend otherwise. A $3,000 value, this scholarship and experience WILL make a huge difference in the recipient’s career.  

This year, to make the fundraising more interesting, a friendly class competition was started and our esteemed chair, Jamie Glavic, just sent out the latest standings with a surprising twist!

1996: $100                                                           2009: $295

2004: $230                                                           2010: $270

2006: $20                                                             2011: $410

2007: $200                                                           2012: $675

2008: $150                                                           2013: $180

The New Top Three

  1. 2012
  2. 2011
  3. 2009

The Class of 2012 is killing it! And 2009 just passed class of 2010 on the leader board.

If you’re an alum of the program, where does your class stand? Do you need to light a fire under your class to support the program that brought you together and helped you create your own unique network? Make a donation for this program and support your class! The class competition ends July 15, 2014, with a trophy for the winning class to be given away at the AASLH Annual Meeting (appropriately themed “Greater than the Sum of Our Parts”) in St. Paul, MN, so get your donation in. Click here to donate and select the SHA Denny O’Toole Scholarship Fund. Thank you for your continued support!

If you’re considering attending DHL@SHA, this is an example of the program alumni’s dedication in that, for many years later, these folks still feel so strongly about the DHL@SHA experience that they’re supporting this wonderful scholarship…If you want to see how this all ends up and learn more about the program, watch this blog, email Bob Beatty at or join us at the DHL@SHA reception in St. Paul.  We look forward to seeing you there!

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