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The Four Stages:

Research-Based Development Framework for Today's Workforce

The Four Stages - Solve the Career Puzzle
The Four Stages of Contribution Assessment
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Four Stages Myths & Facts

  • Myth 1:
    It is important to move through the Stages as quickly as possible.

    Fact 1:
    It is NOT a race to Stage 4. People can be highly valued contributors in Stages 2,3 or 4.

  • Myth 2:
    It is okay to skip a stage.

    Fact 2:
    One cannot "skip" a Stage. Credibility is critical and is built through experience in each Stage. There is breadth AND depth associated with each stage.

  • Myth 3:
    Movement through the stages is automatic over time.

    Fact 3:
    Movement through the Stages is not automatic. It requires a behavior change and psychological shift.

  • Myth 4:
    The Stages are about being very proficient at work.

    Fact 4:
    Stages are not about proficiency in the workplace--doing more of the same, faster and better--it is about your contribution.

  • Myth 5:
    Stages clearly define levels within an organization.

    Fact 5:
    The Stages are NOT the same as "levels," which denote organizational hierarchy. Stages are about behaviors.

  • Myth 6:
    Your job title describes the Stage you are in.

    Fact 6:
    The Stages are not defined by job title, rather by your contribution to the organization.

  • Myth 7:
    You cannot be in more than one Stage at a time.

    Fact 7:
    A person is very likely to be in more than one Stage at time. This depends on the organization's expectations of you and your job responsibilities.

  • Myth 8:
    Job assignments make little difference in Stages.

    Fact 8:
    Job assignments are key to moving through the stages. Target the assignments that represent the Stage you would like develop.
The Four Stages: Research-Based Development Framework for Today's Workforce
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The Four Stages of Contribution Model: the framework for transforming inclusive development into action
The Four Stages of Contribution Model, based on research pioneered by former Harvard Business School professors Gene Dalton and Paul Thompson, makes clear what high performers actually do and the contribution they make.

This model identifies the ways or "stages" in which people contribute and describes what high performance is in each stage—Contributing Dependently, Contributing Independently, Contributing Through Others, and Contributing Strategically.
The Four Stages Model
Movement through the Stages is not Automatic
The model explains how careers do not proceed in a straight line. Instead, careers develop in distinct stages, each different from the other and each requiring different activities, skills, and interaction. One's stage is not reliant on title, but behavior.

Movement from one stage to another is a complex and often difficult transition. It requires a renegotiation of expectations and relationships with others and, often, a significant internal shift within an individual. This renegotiation is called a "novation." Learn more >>

Four Stages Behaviors

Stage 1: Contributing Dependently
- Willingly accepts supervision and direction
- Demonstrates success on a portion of a larger project or task
- Masters basic and routine tasks
- Shows "directed" creativity and initiative
- Performs well under time and budget pressure
- Learns how "we" do things
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Stage 2: Contributing Independently
- Relies less on supervision; works independently and produces significant results
- Assumes responsibility for definable projects
- Increases in technical expertise and ability
- Develops credibility and a reputation
- Builds a strong internal network of relationships
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Stage 3: Contributing Through Others
- Develops broad business perspective
- Stimulates others through ideas and knowledge
- Involved as a manager, mentor, or idea leader in developing others
- Represents the organization effectively to clients and external groups
- Builds a strong internal and external network
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Stage 4: Contributing Strategically
- Provides direction to the organization
- Defines/drives critical business opportunities and needs
- Exercises power responsibly
- Obtains essential resources
- Sponsors promising individuals to prepare them for leadership roles
- Represents the organization on critical strategic issues

How are You Contributing? Take the Four Stages Self-Assessment

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