It’s been nine years now since my final employer pulled me into the HR department’s “exit room” one morning and told me my position with the organization was being eliminated and, consequently, my services were no longer needed.
I deliberately chose to use the word “final” rather than “last” to describe this employer; I’ve since made a decision to work independently — to work for myself, rather than for someone else. Now, as an employee, I’ve got a tougher boss and, as a manager, a more uncooperative worker.
But whether you’re self-employed, like me, or working with a corporation or some other organization, your boss should be the same person: yourself.
You work for you.
If you’ve got a 9-to-5 job, you’ve elected to sell your services to your employer for a salary and some benefits. You agree to take on certain responsibilities and your employer agrees to pay you for taking on those responsibilities.
As long as your employer is happy with the work you do and you’re happy with the money you receive — and with the people you work with and for — that situation won’t change — unless, of course, the company goes belly-up.
Like many might be doing soon as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now you might on break and wondering if you’re going to have a job to go back to once this mess shakes out. You can fret about that or you can take the time you might otherwise spend on the couch doing a little soul-searching — and maybe even preparing for some job-hunting.
Laid-off or otherwise, there’s nothing that says you can’t take your services elsewhere. Most workers do — regularly. A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.
Similarly, Baby Boomer-aged workers will change jobs more than 10 times over their lifetime, roughly once every four years.
Knowing you’re an independent contractor who can work wherever and with whomever (within reason) you like should give you a sense of empowerment. Leadership gurus Dr. Harry A. Silver and Bart Mindzenthy, in their best-selling book Leadership @ Work: Be a Better Team Leader, Anytime, Anywhere, with Anyone, teach that you’re “accountable and responsible for your own morale, happiness and work satisfaction.”
That means it’s up to you to define your own measure of fulfillment, to enhance your own career path and to determine your own level of compensation.
If your current employer can’t provide what you require to meet the goals you set for yourself, then perhaps it’s time to think about going elsewhere.
In the meantime, here’s a question to ask yourself: If I don’t expect to be working for the same organization my whole life, what can I do to make sure my employer gets what it needs from me and I get what I need from it?
Put that thought to paper. List some ways you can be a more effective employee, what you can give to your organization. Next, list some ways you can get more out of your work situation. Look beyond salary and benefits and consider training, networking and even personal growth.
Then turn that list into a work plan.
Chances are your current job is not for keeps. It just makes sense to go to work each day with the understanding that how well you do in this job will help you in your next job.
Put that thought into practice and not only will you be building for your future, you’ll also be creating a more enjoyable work environment now, both for yourself and your co-workers.
And just maybe you’ll buck the trend and find a rewarding place to extend your workdays.