October 24, 2008
The world of work: Old vs. new rules
Q: I've lost three jobs in the last year. Two job losses were layoffs and the last one cut my salary to nothing, so I quit. I'm wondering whether I'm unemployable or if the work world has gone crazy?
A: Neither. I get many letters from readers in exactly your position these days. The truth is that the world of work has undergone some enormous changes in the last decade. Most people expect to be working according to rules that no longer apply.
Let's compare the old and new rules of work:
1. Old: You have a job for life. New: You have a job as long as it's convenient for your employer.
2. Old: You owe your company lifelong loyalty. New: You owe your company good work but no loyalty.
3. Old: Talented people keep their jobs. New: Talented people realize job security exists in their skill set.
Job turnovers, layoffs, downsizing and other earthquakes in the corporate landscape used to be seen as unusual occurrences in an otherwise stable job market. The truth is we're headed toward employment being an entrepreneurial experience for everyone. Somehow, most of us are still pretending we don't have to be entrepreneurs.
If you recognize that your job security can only be found in your skill set, then you invest in your knowledge and your competency. You understand that your current employer is simply your current "client." You go to work every day keenly aware your current client may dismiss your services that day.
If you operate as an entrepreneur, you don't ask if you will be out of a job but when. You will also keep your eyes open for your next "client" so you're prepared when your current client fires you.
My clients tell me this entrepreneurial awareness has actually energized their jobs and made them feel more in charge. They do their best work every day for themselves, not to earn nonexistent corporate loyalty.
It isn't you that is failing by experiencing so much unemployment. Your frequent job changes are simply the new normal for the workplace. My advice is, stop working for a living, become "self-employed," and never lose sight of the reality that your new "client" will not offer you a job for life.
The last word(s)
Q: I have a co-worker that's always telling me my attitude stinks. Does he have any right to pass judgment on my attitude?
A: No, but he's got every right to have opinions about your behavior. Try asking him what he wants.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author. She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube
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