Ten hardcore realities for today’s workers
Y'know, I really don't like playing the role of "Dr. Doom." I'd much prefer to give you good employment news. But frankly, I'd be lying, a no-no back when I was in Sunday School. So here are a few reality checks and pieces of advice on employment today.
1). Unemployment is still rising. Forget what the government says. Their numbers don't add up. Job creation is very low and layoffs continue. The decrease in the unemployment rate comes from a). seasonal variation, b). the Byzantine and dishonest way the government figures unemployment figures and c). the number of people who have just given up looking for jobs and whose unemployment has run out. Things are still bad out there, regardless of what Pollyannas tell you.
2). You must continue to "do more with less." Yes, there are mega-corporations who are immorally raking in the profits on the backs of their employees. But this isn't the vast majority of American companies. Most employers in America are small to medium sized businesses, not the soulless and amoral mega-corps. And we're struggling to keep you on payroll and pay your skyrocketing benefits. This means that you will continue to be asked to "do more with less." It isn't because we're nasty and greedy. It is because we're trying to hang on so we all (including you) can keep our jobs and pay our bills.
3). Don't quit. Until you have another job lined up, it is probably foolish to quit your current position. There are exceptions to this, of course. But they are very few. This may mean that you will be stuck at your current employer for a while, as finding a new job rapidly is a full-time process. Yes, this is a 180 from some of my previous positions. Intelligent people change opinions and advice based on changing circumstances.
4). Don't get fired for cause. Behave yourself. If you get fired for cause you'll be out a very long time. ‘Nuff said.
5). Don't burn bridges. If you are laid off (or quit), make sure that you act with class. Don't put a virus in the computer system, insult your boss, or make it so no one else can do the job you're leaving. These actions will come back to haunt you. How you leave might, in the future, give you a new opportunity.
6). There is no more "work/life balance." I get nasty comments every time I tell this truth. The fact is that, if you want to keep your job, stop whining about working long hours, giving up vacation time and not having time with the kiddos.
7). Your primary responsibility to your family is a paycheck. Keeping your kids fed, clothed and housed trumps going to a recital, school play or soccer game. Trust me. They'll live if you have to skip these things to make enough money to support them. Kids are very skilled at inducing guilt. Be a grown-up and take grown-up responsibilities. Let ‘em whine and call you a bad parent. It will give them something to talk to their shrink about when they're older.
8). You're a fool if you don't have a network. You have another responsibility, and that is to do whatever possible to generate and keep up a good network. This is much easier to do while you're working. You're just a fool if you think that your current job is going to last forever. Get off your duff and make networking events, work LinkedIn, and get and stay in contact with people who can help you if you get laid off.
9). Leave your problems at home. Maybe you're about to be foreclosed on. Or your spouse has lost his or her job. There are bad things that happen to all of us, but keep these troubles out of the office. Do your job. Handle the nasty stuff in private.
10). Understand that most people don't like their jobs every day. It's called "work" as opposed to "play" because it's work. This foolish notion that jobs should be "fun" is just narcissistic and absurd. Don't whine because your job isn't a blast. Suck it up and do your job well, even on the days it isn't fun.
I know that I'll get blasted for these realities, but, boys and girls, ignore these lessons at your extreme career peril. You can live in a dream world or cope with the real world as it is. I prefer the latter.
Ready for that new executive job? Join John and up to 40 of your executive colleagues on Monday, March 14, 2011, for Structured Networking. More info and required registration here.