Reference Points for Your Job

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Apr 09

This year my wife and I had the privilege of taking a two-week trip to Ireland. You will note that Europe uses the Euro for money, Celsius for temperature, and the metric system for measuring everything (except, interestingly, Ireland has a European Union exception where they can still measure pints, as in pints of Guinness…).

The reason this is important to Cubicle Warriors is this: we lost most of our reference points for how we went about our day. Cold or warm outside? How fast were we going (100 km per hour, we found out, is about 62 mph…)? How much was 50 Euro — in dollars?

It took us a while to get used to seeing 10-degrees Celsius instead of 50-degrees Fahrenheit, 10-Euro instead of 16-dollars (the exchange rate really sucks), and knowing that if we were going somewhere 100-km away and driving 100-km per hour, it would take us about an hour to get there. We adjusted.

When we change managers, positions or companies, our reference points that provide our levels of certainty on how well we are doing our jobs significantly changes. There is feedback, but we can’t relate the feedback to the work we’re doing like we used to. Sure, money is money, but the Euro and dollars still mean different things.

When you change jobs, companies, or managers, you’ll feel lost for a bit because these reference points change. Until you know where the new reference points are, you won’t be able to operate on cruise control.

How do you know you’re doing a good job when your manager, company, or job changes?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.