Unhappily employed? Part II of a Series

by Edward Henkler on March 28, 2013

When I first left my previous employer, many of my friends and colleagues said, “Boy, are you lucky!”  While that sentiment felt a bit odd, I have to admit that on one level, I felt a sense of relief.  The stress and uncertainty of waiting for the downsizing knife had been wearing me down.  It had also been emotionally draining to watch other long term friends and colleagues separated from the company I still loved and admired.  Lastly, as reorganizations and downsizing proceeded, there was an ongoing sense (and reality) of having to do more with fewer.

The emotions above are not relegated to any single company.  As I speak with colleagues and clients, the theme is rather constant regardless of company size or industry.  This fear and frustration drives at least two behaviors which are personally unhealthy and can also be damaging for your employer:

  • You hear comments such as, “I’m trying to hang in there as long as possible” or, “I only make safe decisions so I stay below the radar.”
  • One of my colleagues observed that only the narcissists and backstabbers were getting ahead

Regardless of what you’re hearing around your company, it is clear that an optimal outcome is unlikely to result when fear and frustration reign.  So what is the answer?  I think both the employer and employee have obligations:

  • The employer should actively seek to help the employee reach their full potential and realize their dreams – that doesn’t mean that layoffs won’t happen, only that the employer will be diligent in creating opportunities for their employees, both internally and externally.  Matthew Kelly’s “The Dream Manager” is a great resource.  It also suggests the need for a robust onboarding program, such as George Bradt describes in “The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan”.
  • The employee must shift their thinking from scarcity (i.e. very few opportunities) to abundance (limitless opportunities).  As appropriate, it may be time to consider roles with another company but a frequent mistake is not considering roles within your company.  I would highly recommend John Lucht’s “Insights for the Journey”, which discusses proactive career management, while employed.  The following questions are an excerpt from that book.  They may open doors internally and externally and they are what you should be thinking about in lieu of keeping your head down:
    • Continually scan the entire landscape of technology and business methods.  Emphasize your own field, of course.  But are there any developments in seemingly unrelated fields that might have application in yours?
    • Watch customer needs and attitudes.  Are any new problems or desires beginning to surface?
    • Consider the needs, frustrations, and satisfactions of your own workforce.  Can you provide advantages that others do not?

Victim, Survivor, or Navigator (Rick McKnight)

 I haven’t had a chance to read Dr. Rick McKnight’s “Victim, Survivor, or Navigator” yet but the title nicely summarizes what I’ve said above.  We choose our roles.  Victims and even Survivors lead a stressful life and are unlikely to contribute at their full potential.  Navigators take charge and control their journey.  Which do you want to be?

Note that all of the books referenced above are available via the widget in my sidebar ———>

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: