EMPLOYMENT FOR LIFE?

Attributed to :MrTapanRayaguru, Executive Director, Sunstone Business School

tapan1 Should I continue to work  for the same employer for  life? Will I not be taken for  granted? How will I learn how other companies work? How can I leave, this is the only organization I really  know?

I have been asked questions on this theme over the years and I have not been able to give a satisfactory answer yet. In fact, I don’t think I have been able to answer to my own self as to what the right answer may be.

Let’s list out the pros and cons and see if that helps us think this through:

PROS:

  1. You understand and probably identify with the vision of the organization and it makes sense to continue as long as the role variety and your contribution to the organization is meaningful
  2. You start to accumulate learning about the business, chips from being a good performer, familiarity with the operations of the company that you carry from role to role
  3. Your organization continues to do well and is providing you opportunities for growth both in terms of responsibilities as well as the perquisites that come with that responsibility
  4. Humans are social animals and having friends from work that go beyond the workplace could be a significant factor as well.

CONS:

  1. Too much familiarity tends to slow down learning even if there is avenue to learn within the organization as you start to believe just because you have been here long enough you know how everything works
  2. Quite often one is insulated from environment changes around them cocooned in the comfort of familiarity. It is entirely possible that this insulation could prevent you from knowing what could go wrong with the organization itself. I am sure Blackberry had several smart employees who should have seen it coming.
  3. There is a chance that you take your employer for granted and don’t keep yourself sharp with additional knowledge and skills that is essential to be not only successful in your current role but also prepare yourself for higher responsibilities. This has the tendency to fall into a vicious cycle where you also disqualify yourself from higher responsibilities because you have not taken the time to get yourself ready for it.
  4. Is there a chance that your employer takes you for granted? I shudder to think the consequences of that if you don’t realize that it is happening right around you and may be to you too!
  5. Variety is the spice of life they say. Could you live with the feeling that you have not really seen the rest of the world of business or even other organizations in the industry?

For me personally it has always been about the role and not as much the employer. Of course, it helps if you identify with the vision of the organization you work with because it provides fuel to your motivation irrespective of the specific role you perform in the organization.

I have a simple 3-test rule for deciding when it is time to move on.

  1. My learning has stopped: One of the core reasons we continue to spend a large part of our days at our workplace is to realize our potential as human beings. Of course, there are the material needs that a steady income satisfies, but once that hygiene is taken care, our more intellectual needs take over.

Learning in any job tends to peter out over a period of time, but alternate role assignments within the same organization can provide new challenges. As long as I have variety in my own responsibilities, or can learn through observing others around me, my learning needs are taken care of. I don’t judge my learning on a daily basis but each time I sit back to think how my day/week/month/quarter went, I should be able to notice elements of learning that I have been able to acquire that has made me a better professional/human being today than I was yesterday.

  1. I am not contributing enough: While I continue to burn the hours and manage the clock, I don’t seem to be increasing my level of contribution back to my organization. I am getting better at my job but don’t feel good about my contribution as compared to the last year/quarter. I either need to do more volume or more variety of things so I can contribute more.

Before I give up on an employer, I would beg/cry/yell to get some more work or different work and provide enough time for them to react back. Some of us work for large organizations where rules, processes and procedures may take a while… so hang in there till you can’t anymore…

  1. Monday mornings are getting hard: While everything else is good, I just can’t make myself get out of home on a Monday morning to get to work. Forget being excited, I am considering calling in sick every Monday. While the job is good, I like my team, my own role but there is something wrong that I cannot put my finger on that bothers me every Monday morning.

Not sure if this is true for all of us, but the intangible aspect to our jobs in organization called ‘culture’ plays a large role in my feeling to get to work every Monday morning. I have observed this Monday morning syndrome start to develop after a few years of being with the same organization as the culture of the organization starts to shift. In my experience, this probably happens with organizations that are in the growth phase where priorities shift from the customer, employees to investors and hence all corresponding behaviors get dictated by that.

As you decide to leave, make sure the next one you pick meets all the three criteria else you will be out again in the market looking for yet another place….

Hopefully this has shed some light for you to think this through as you consider making that decision to get out of the door where you spent a large part of your life….

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