Nurturing the Learning Tree

People, like organizations, develop, grow, and thrive. If not, they are of little market value in a career.

By Hank Moore, Corporate Strategist

Organizations are populated with individuals who possess a plethora of education, skills, and talents. Companies are composed of human beings, who bring their culturalization (or lack of it) to the job. Thus, they set the pace for the tree (company) in question.

Business professionals are the sum of their life experiences. People, like organizations, develop, grow, and thrive. If not, they are of little market value in a career.

Any individual is like a tree. He or she seemingly looks the same each day but sheds leaves, lets limbs rot, and applies “band-aid surgery” to the branches late in life. Therefore, that person’s career does not fully grow and bloom.

If properly nourished, the growth process is steady and consistent. Many people neglect themselves and thus fail to reach full potential. If the individual stoops to the declining mode, their career will wane and fail to exist.

People do not look the same, but they have common culturalization needs. Like organizations, people trees possess qualities that are relative to the environment in which they attempt to grow. Without proper care, they wither. Without continued care, they die. With proper care, they blossom. With continued care, they sprout deep roots and live a richer life.

The Learning Tree has seven major parts: five branches, a trunk (six) and the base (seven). Like organizations, most people address only three or four categories at any given time...some effectively and others not.

No single branch (life component) constitutes a healthy tree. None of the limbs, twigs, and leaves on each branch provides all the nourishment required to breed a healthy tree (person). Each branch has its proper responsibility and should learn to interface with the others.

The Learning Tree will not stand without a trunk and the base. These keep the branches, limbs, twigs, and leaves on a growth curve. Trees with thicker bases and deeper roots will sprout greener (be happy and productive), shed less often (fewer career mistakes), and live longer (create and sustain a Body of Work).

7 Basic Categories of the Workforce:

  1. People who only do the things necessary to get by. Just a series of more, no less.
  2. People who are managed by others to meet quotas, schedules, procedures, and statistics. People who do and make things.
  3. Administrative, managerial support.Keep the boat afloat. Push paper, systems, technology. Process is the driving force.
  4. System upholders.Don’t rock the boat. Maintain the status quo. Resist change. Surround with like minds. Motivated by survival.
  5. People who sell something. Most companies have revenue-sales as their primary objective and measurement. To them, everything else is secondary.
  6. People in transition. Forced by circumstances to change (career obsolescence, downsizing, marketplace factors). Some voluntarily implemented changes, to achieve balance or new direction in life. Some do better in newer environments. Others cannot weather changes (too tied to staid corporate orientations).
  7. Idealists...out to do meaningful things. Deeply committed to accomplishing something special...beyond basic job requirements. Adapt to and benefit from change. Learn to take risks. Motivated by factors other than money.

Classifications of Jobs and Workers

  1. Unskilled Labor
  2. Basic Jobs
  3. Apprentices
  4. Semi-Skilled Labor
  5. Helpers
  6. Servers
  7. Entry-Level Workers
  8. Base-Level Sellers (door-to-door, telephone, clerks and checkers, retail sales)
  9. Support Staff
  10. Journeyman Laborer
  11. Technician
  12. Administrative
  13. Entry-Level Professional
  14. Mid-Level Worker
  15. Mid-Level Sellers (consumer services, multi-level marketing, retailers, vendors)
  16. Tradesman, Skill Provider
  17. Craftsman, Arts and Humanities Provider
  18. Science-Technology Provider
  19. Mid-Manager
  20. Mid-Level Professional
  21. Career Worker
  22. Professional Sellers (business-to-business, professional services, financial services)
  23. Career Manager
  24. Career Professional
  25. Consultants (for every level to this point)
  26. Senior Professional
  27. Executive
  28. Seasoned Professional
  29. Beyond the Level of Professional
  30. Knowledge Creator—Inspiring Force—Thinker—Wisdom Resource

7 Plateaus of Work Ethic

  1. Just Enough to Get By. Getting paid is the objective. Don’t know or have not learned anything further.
  2. Taking Advantage of the System. Coffee break mentality. Abuse sick day policies, health benefits, etc. “Never gonna be” syndrome.
  3. Inside the Box.Follow the rules but never consider formulating them. Subscribe to the philosophy: “There are no wise decisions...only activities carried out according to company procedures.”
  4. Don’t Rock the Boat.Interested in remaining gainfully employed. Look forward in the short term to the next paid vacation, in the long term toward retirement.
  5. Professional Is as Professional Does. Daily behaviors, achievements speak for themselves. Consistent in approaches. Never stop learning and growing.
  6. Change Agent. Either forced by circumstances to change (career obsolescence, downsizing, marketplace factors) or thrive upon change. As time progresses, become a mentor and champion for change.
  7. Deep Commitments to Body of Work, Professionalism, Ethics. Don’t know what a coffee break, sick day, or vacation is. Give their lives, souls, expertise to careers...and the lifetime results show positively. Profound influence.

A regular contributor to, Hank Moore has advised 5,000-plus client organizations worldwide (including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations). He guides companies through growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism, and Big Picture issues that profoundly affect the business climate. Moore conducts company evaluations, creates the big ideas, and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree is his trademarked approach to growing, strengthening, and evolving business, while mastering change. His current book is “The Business Tree,” published by Career Press. Moore also speaks at conferences and facilitates corporate retreats on strategy. He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoken at five Economic Summits. To read his complete biography, visit

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