Surprisingly, despite the Great Recession, there is still this paradigm, this belief that companies will care about you and your work. Somehow they will appreciate the many years you have contributed to reaching their business goals and somehow that will protect you from changes and layoffs. That the salary, benefits and work environment companies pay you in exchange for your work are somehow not enough to overcome this perception that they also need to value you.
It’s hogwash. This belief, that the company owes you something beyond pay, benefits and a safe work environment, will kill your ability to focus on your work and navigate your career.
Companies hire you to perform work that will help the company reach their business goals. That’s it and, in my opinion, OK. You work to help them succeed and they pay you for the work. Just like you hire someone to cut your lawn and pay them to do it. You hired them for job skills in keeping your lawn cut and you paid them for helping you succeed in your goals. You don’t expect to owe them anything once you have paid for the work to cut the lawn. Yet, too often we expect our employer to still owe us something.
Harley Davidson’s relatively new CEO noted that while job cuts are painful, there is the larger business picture for companies:
Some of the changes, particularly the job cuts, have been painful. But in his first extensive interview since taking the reins, Wandell told the Journal Sentinel last week that the actions he took were necessary and designed to keep Harley relevant and profitable in the long term.
“There is not one of us who wakes up in the morning and says, ‘Wow, this is another opportunity to ruin someone’s life,” Wandell said. “But you cannot turn your head and look the other way when there are issues that are going to ruin the company. I wish we could be totally clear about that.”
Is this now clear? The business, as an entity, must do everything to survive and thrive. Not help you survive and thrive. The business.
If you are not evaluating your work, job prospects and career from the viewpoint of what is best for you and your work, you are abdicating your job and career to the whims of a company. And they seem like whims, serious as they may be.
A new CEO or Senior Vice President coming into a company automatically means there will be changes. Yet we think it means nothing to us and six months later we’re out on the street looking for a job.
You must flip the paradigm that says the company will always be right for me and my work to one where you are consistently evaluating if the company is still right for me and my work.
You must consistently evaluate your work, job prospects and decide when your current job will end. Your job will end; all jobs do. It is just a question of when. If you wait for the company to take action, you abdicate any control or influence on your income and career. If you are evaluating your work and how the company supports your work, you will discover the changes taking place that jeopardize your income.
But we need to all get off this paradigm that the company won’t do something bad to us because we work there, or do great work there, or are a rock star, or think we’re indispensable, or we’ve been there for thirty years or thirty minutes. And then wail and scream and gnash our teeth when the company management determines to do something they think will help the company survive and thrive and our work is now impacted or eliminated.
A snake is a snake; a snake operates totally in its own self-interest. Companies are not snakes, but they operate in their own best interests as well, not yours. To think and act otherwise jeopardizes your income.
Companies pay their bill with you every time you get a paycheck. They owe you nothing else.
Are you willing to change your paradigm?
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