Most of us are proud of our work. We believe that if we produce quality work, we will be rewarded for it. Rewarded, if not in monetary value, through recognition of a job well done.
But that doesn’t always happen, that ideal way of looking at the work we produce. Instead, other things happen. Our work isn’t good enough. Our work is never as good as someone else’s work. Or we never, no matter how hard we try, earn the grade we think we deserve.
Now, it really can be about our work performance. It really can. That performance needs looking at to ensure that if we can improve, we do. Not because it is something required to do, but because improving our job skills is a needed activity to ensure employment security.
But past that, past the improving our job skills, there is a serious need to look at the culture of a company (or department, or your manager’s team) to determine what that culture rewards for the work performed. Trust me, it’s not all about the objective views of work. Nope. There are biases out there. Lots of them.
When you encounter these biases, it’s time to run — not walk — to posting your resume on your favorite job boards and looking for another job. What are the biases?
Think back to high school (that’s if you’re as old as I am and can only remember back as far as high school…). Or junior high school (if you are a lot younger than I am…). Remember all those cliques? Those groups that hung out together and excluded everyone else from their precious circle of friends? Yeah, that crowd that Hollywood continuously makes movies about where the precocious teen breaks through the cliques and grows up.
Except in a lot of companies, the cliques — the cool kids — never go away. Those that are part of the clique get the promotions, the best performance review ratings, and — this is the worst part for producing results in your work — the best tasks and projects to work. The ones that look the best on the resume; those are the ones that go to the cool kids group. You, the hard working Cubicle Warrior, don’t get the assignments that can really help your career — or help you get out.
You get a choice here. You can try and break into the clique and have all the other ramifications of that with your coworkers, or, you can recognize the clique as management and get out.
Yeah, I’d get out. Sooner rather than later because cliques have this nasty tendency to turn on people. Like you.
That sounds a little woo-woo, for sure. But it is real. I worked in a department where the approach to technology was moving to an ITIL-based organization and management approach. ITIL is an IT infrastructure methodology that talks through several disciplines — incident management, capacity management, service management, networking, and other disciplines. Like other methodologies, it says that we should manage X (in this case, IT infrastructure) by focusing on A, B, and C (incident management, capacity management, etc…).
You set up your organization to match up with the methodology. You build metrics around the methodology. You produce results using the methodology.
And then a new Senior Vice President (in large sized companies) or Executive Vice President (in medium sized companies) shows up. And that executive’s approach isn’t about ITIL, it is about Utility Computing (which, for purists, can coexist perfectly with ITIL because it is really two different things).
Utility Computing, in my case, isn’t organized like ITIL is organized…and 60-people in my department were shown the door because ITIL was no longer the approach we were going to take about working IT infrastructure.
Any work you did in the former environment counts a big fat zero in the new environment. You lose.
In medium to smaller companies, you might not have the cliques or the methodologies to worry about. But how often have you seen management pick people because they are friends with that person? The smaller the company or the city, the more likely this is to happen.
I’ve lost positions and promotions to people who were friends with management; managers simply believe they are going to work better with people they know well than take a chance on one that has many accomplishments but maybe might not possibly or not get along with the manager. Also.
These situations are awful for people who just want to perform, do their work, and have a career. It is work, interrupted. Over and over again.
You have integrity. You have your goals. Don’t get trapped in the clique that has friends that has a methodology that is always changing. You will lose.
I don’t want you to lose.