Key Point: I hope you realize that you are being evaluated in your job today and literally everyday. If you were a general manager of a sports team, or a conductor of an orchestra, would you renew your contract (with a raise)? Why? Why not? In a somewhat related way, Jodi Glickman’s recent Harvard Business Review blog asks this question: “If you were a stock, would you bet on yourself?“
Please understand that any effective team leader is asking these types of questions ALL the time: “How do I make my team stronger?” “What new skills do I need?” “How is my business changing?” “What does this mean regarding the competences and attributes of my team members?” If a leader/manager is not thinking this way, he or she will lose their jobs sooner than later. Perhaps you think that’s not happening in your world, but if not, I believe it will be shortly. Even concepts like university tenured positions are likely not sustainable. It sounds callous but unless we own our own businesses, we are all free agents on “contract.” And guess what? We actually do own our own business and it’s called “YOU Inc.” Now what?
This is not about whether you and I are likable or try hard. Organizations in almost every market and jurisdiction are continuously and rapidly morphing to offer better value others want to invest in. No institution can rely on past value. Present and future value is all that counts. Don’t take it personally, but your job is a sub plot in this bigger story.
Honestly answer the question. Are you solidly placed to continue or are you at risk? Would you invest in “YOU Inc.?” Put feelers into the market. Who wants your services? Are you an appreciating asset?
Determine what you want to become a “master” craftsman in and continue to invest in that competency. But you have to put yourself on a continuous development program. And be sure that there is a future need for that skill. If you go home and watch a lot of TV every night instead of developing yourself, networking, etc… Say goodbye to your job. It’s only a question of when, not if.
In addition to a set of master skills, your attribute and character needs continuous practice and development. If you are not developing your Emotional Quotient, some one with the same level of technical competence as you will have done so. That makes them more valuable than you. Become more self aware, and committed to personal emotional growth.
Grow your own personal brand. Don’t be bashful about selling yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else likely will. Become an exceptional sales person and self-promoter. Get over it. There is nothing sleazy about this if its done thoughtfully and presented in the context of adding real benefit to others.
Do not become complacent or think you’re not expendable. In every organization there are people on the “bubble,” at risk of losing their jobs and many are blind to it. Put yourself in charge by committing to a better, renewed and improved “YOU Inc.” Sell yourself everyday. By the way, if you did super great in the past, enjoy the plaque you received. It will be appreciated but you are being evaluated in the present.
Attach yourself to organizations committed to your personal equity development, which treat you with respect and as a member of that team. Regardless of how the business model will change, that organization will consciously care about you as a team member. Even if you are asked to leave, you will be treated with fairness and dignity. (Remember that everything including the role you’re in ends… Be ready for the next great step for “YOU Inc.”)
Key Point: ACTIVATE is a powerful word. I ask people at all levels and positions what really makes them happy at work. Is it feeling valued? Purpose driven? Engaged? It almost always ends up in the beautiful bucket of providing value to others. It rarely comes down to something related to how rich, smart, or thin we are, etc. I find it so interesting that Shari Arison, one of the wealthiest people in the world, has a message about becoming rich that has little if anything to do with making money. Arison’s motto, as captured in her new book Activate Your Goodness is: “Think good, speak good, do good.” It is deceptively simple. It also really connects with the motto of The Character Triangle: Do it now, be nice, give more.
I recently talked to a number of people in our customer call center who are like you and me, everyday workers, and certainly not billionaires. And when I asked them what makes them happy or engaged at work, their responses tended to fall into this obvious yet remarkable container of doing good.
If we choose to concentrate on good thoughts, communicate positively with others and act out our goodness by doing deeds for the benefit of others, each one of us becomes transformed from the INSIDE. When we do it now, act nice and give more, we become driven by the power of goodness, and extraordinary things happen. Like Ms. Arison states, “Think good, speak good, and do good is a life changing motto. It can lead us on a personal journey, filled with opportunities to connect and activate our own goodness. This immediately resonates outwards touching all aspects of life, creating positive change along its path.”
My last blog introduced you to Wharton’s Adam Grant, whose research quantitatively endorses the benefit of giving. This blog is more qualitative-based on the everyday wisdom that comes from what people in all walks of life report. So what gets in the way of more progress relative to goodness? If the recipe is simple why does it seem so elusive?
I think the breakthrough for more progress is in the word “ACTIVATE.” Although goodness is important in both thought and words, we ultimately have to DO, in order to complete the trifecta. What is your activate button?
See the cartoon attached. Awareness about the benefit of goodness is NOT by itself the key to doing something. In fact research tells us that our normal default “button” is to do nothing after becoming aware. So each of us has to overcome the fear related to inertia, and put ourselves out in the world of “DO!”
After you read this blog, however small the act, get up and activate goodness.
Grant has published a ton of research that has generated broad interest in the study of relationships at work. The following is from one of his abstracts: “We found that participants who reflected about giving benefits voluntarily contributed more than participants who reflected about receiving benefits… Giving may be more powerful than receiving as a driver of pro-social behavior.”
“Give and Take” starts with a premise that service to others has the potential to make us more productive than exclusively thinking about helping ourselves. Those of you who know me understand how strongly I feel about the value of giving. In fact (I can now say that) recognition of others and giving of ourselves is one of the most powerful self-motivators and perhaps counter intuitively the most important path to accelerating ourselves in social groups. How much do you really give of yourself daily? At work? At home? At play?
Just give by adding value to others. Do it without expecting back and it will likely return ten fold, often in unexpected and delightful ways. I could write a book of stories that have taught me this over and over again. And I must give more to become better and better again.
Then give more. Sound exhausting? On the contrary, you will find it uplifting and energy boosting.
Reflect on the benefits of giving and see what happens. Do your own personal research.
Urgently give by contributing value to others’ lives but be patient to receive. Let the anticipation of getting something back vanish.