The Four Stages of Contribution

What distinguishes today’s workforce? How does it differ demographically and behaviorally from workforces in the past? These are questions Global Novations set out to answer in its Four Stages® of Contribution research. Before we get into specific research findings, we will first provide background on the Four Stages model and why we chose it as the foundation for our research. Then, we’ll outline the research participant characteristics and methodology. And finally, we’ll summarize the basic areas of research.

The Four Stages of Contribution model is based on the research of Drs. Gene Dalton and Paul Thompson and provides a framework for increasing one’s organizational impact and influence over time. According to Dalton and Thompson’s research, there is a direct correlation between a person’s “career stage” and his/her contribution to the organization. Over the course of their careers, employees can move through as many as four stages although organizational needs and employee goals can affect movement between and within the stages.

Organizations need employees who are continually learning and willingly accept supervision as much as they need employees able to mentor and coach. However, behaving in ways associated with latter stages means impacting a larger cross-section of the organization. Therefore, highperforming organizations must ensure that people contributing within each stage are also developing behaviors associated with the next stage. This stretching and growing prepares employees to, over time, have greater influence in the organization.

As employees develop their individual capacity, organizations also increase their overall capacity. Over the years, we’ve learned that title does not always represent how people are actually contributing, and that people may be contributing across multiple stages at any given time. However, an employee’s behavior is usually predominately associated with one stage. As we review the comparisons below, we have used the dominant stage rating as defined by the manager of the employee and some cases as determined by the employee him/herself.