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Monday, April 9, 2018

Take Personal Responsibility For Your Future

Organizations can't stop the world from changing. The best they can do is adapt. The smart ones change before they have to. The lucky ones manage to scramble and adjust when push     comes to shove. The rest are losers, and they become history.

As organizations maneuver in an effort to cope with rapid change, some careers always get caught in the cracks. It’s unfortunate, but unavoidable. Some employees get pinched and, naturally, people cry foul. They accuse top management of “breaking the psychological contract,” of changing the rules. But it’s more accurate to say the organization is merely responding to a rule change called the world. The irony is that executives are in no-win situation.  If they’re smart, and change early like they should, they’re described as uncaring and over-reactive. If they drag around and don’t change until the world forces the issue, they’re considered inept as well as cruel.

Part of the problem lies in the “entitlement” mindset that has crept into our thinking over the past several decades. People come to believe that, because of all the years of work they put in, the organization “owes” them continued employment. Sticking with an outfit – loosely referred to as loyalty – was supposed to entitle a person to job security. Employees learn to expect regular pay increases and periodic promotions. Some folks even go so far as to presume they have a “right” to expect their employees to keep them happy and provide job satisfaction. The burden of responsibility for people’s careers shifted further and further away from employees, and more onto the back of the employers. Both parties bought into this system, and it has been bad for all concerned.

Too often employees rested on their past achievements, instead of requiring themselves to constantly improve their skills. They counted on their work history to qualify them for a promising career future. They became too dependent on their employers, expecting protective policies to shield them from the raw forces of change going on around the globe.
Obviously, it hasn’t work. High-velocity change has eliminated the need for many jobs. Because of new technology and global competition, organizations are being reshaped and work is being done differently. The marketplace is merciless, and it puts definite limits on how generous or protective an organization can be with its people.

This means you should reframe your relationship with the organization, just as it must reframe its relationship with customers and competitors. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you’re automatically “entitled” to pay increases, promotions, or even your job…even if you perform well.  Circumstances will keep changing. The best thing you can do is constantly improve your skills, stay flexible, and never con yourself into thinking that your employer is supposed to protect your future.

The era of entitlement is ending. Instead rely on your “rights,” take personal responsibility for your career. Put your faith in the future…and in yourself. Embrace change, and develop the work habits you need for job success in the Information Age.

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