Since finding my knowledge, experience, skills and services were no longer required – the unfortunate outcome of redundancy resulting from an ‘organisational restructure’ – I keep asking myself; surely I can’t be the only person who finds the whole job application and interview process uncomfortable… can I?
Perhaps this ‘discomfort’ is an age-related thing? A fear of the unknown? What are they looking for? Perhaps it’s simply due to that lack of lived-experience, particularly when it comes to being the interviewee? The whole job search process, along with ‘performing’ well at interview, or subsequently securing any suitable position, has changed over recent decades, and perhaps not always for the better? Maybe I’ve become the proverbial fish out of water?
Rightly or wrongly, I’m not one of those people who has spent a lifetime flitting from one position to another. I’ve never signed up to that now commonplace and constant process, where the pursuit of career ‘progression’ appears to be the sole aim of getting any job. In my opinion, a good deal of those aspirations are born purely in personal desires around securing enhanced salaries and/or substantial associated benefits.
To my mind it’s another one of those Americanisms, that has come flooding across the remainder of the world’s commerce and organisational structures. That ethos where cash, or desires about workplace supremacy, appear to be the be-all-end-game. A process followed and adhered to by those individuals who are constantly searching for evidence, to ‘prove’ their personal ‘worth’ in life… something that I find both distasteful and sad.
To be honest, my only real desires or aspirations for reaching the top, of any given work environment, where I have been employed, was simply this; there will be one less tier of (often ineffective self-interested) management telling me how to perform a task. The one that I was employed and trained to carry out… and did so with proactive diligence and in a proficient and productive manner.
But why did I carry out the task correctly and proficiently? Because I was expected to do that, that was my role within the organisation I worked for… it was in the job description, simple! Maybe I’m getting long in the tooth and/or set in my ways however; I have always found it difficult to ‘evidence’ my personal ‘worth’ by self-marketing (aka boasting). Offering ‘good’ examples of something I was paid to do, or outline what I have done, is alien to me. My achievements are simply tasks that I completed, usually to a high standard. Why would I want to ‘celebrate’ that fact?
I have devoted my working life to serving and supporting others, I didn’t choose to do that because I wanted any thanks or praise. I haven’t done what I have done to try and solicit adulation or secure financial wealth. I did it because I wanted to, unfortunately, some people are less fortunate than I am. To my mind, it’s only right to serve, help and support other people less fortunate or able than you are. I did it because somebody needs to do it after all, isn’t that one of the cornerstones of humanity within a hopefully stable society?
Flippantly and cynically I know but, I also subscribe to and have often espoused an age-old maxim. One that was favoured by George Bernard Shaw, as a tenet in his profound Fabian oratory… “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches” [or often becomes a manager]. That’s maybe something of an own-goal, in several respects. Especially when I consider how much time I have spent developing and delivering resources designed to improve Learning & Development opportunities (aka ‘teaching’) for people. Oh the irony!
Sometimes I can actually stomach Americanisms, dependent upon the individual delivering the words. For example, Colin Powell, the retired Four-Star General and past American Secretary of State once said; “Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission” – I like and subscribe to that ethos.
Theories – and/or learned ‘buzzwords’ – rarely deliver the required outcomes we are looking for, especially when it comes to managing any of those difficult, problematic and fast-changing situations. Particularly when it comes to managing emotions resulting from traumatic circumstances.
That being said, I don’t underestimate the undoubted value of training people to be leaders and managers, as the military do however; I remain skeptical about some of the common business management ‘skills’ that are taught. Too many are simply based in commercialism and aspirational self-interest, rather than providing the students with real people skills.
Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything – for better or for worse. (Simon Sinek)
For me, the relationship between employer and employee will always be a key factor for any productivity. To paraphrase Sinek, a critically acclaimed motivational speaker; we need to trust each other more than we do. We need to start that relationship of trust by explaining “what we are trying to do, as opposed to just making demands or delegating tasks” – which gives you some hope of building that instant level of trust.
Sinek also suggests – “We imagine a world in which the vast majority of people wake up inspired, feel safe wherever they are and end the day fulfilled by the work they do” – that simply isn’t the case, in reality. One of the things that we tend to loose sight of the most, at least within our working environments is our raison d’être. What is our ‘purpose’ and ‘reason’ that formulates the ‘why’ we choose to do what we do in our working lives. As Sinek said, from a corporate and leadership perspective, it’s always a worthy process when leaders – Start With Why! – which is also a worthy maxim for the individual.
After submitting several job applications recently, the two most recent and current have secured two interviews. They have resulted in one ‘failure’ (someone ‘scored’ higher than me) and one result is still awaited. Thankfully, I remain rational about any future offers of employment. Any ‘successful’ outcomes will (mostly) be down to me… I suspect I will sink or swim on my own self-marketing skills… whatever they are?
I’m glad that I am able to draw on my Stoic values, I have self-belief about my self-worth and ‘worth’ to others. I can however fully empathize with anyone who doesn’t happen to poses those skills.
Searching for and securing any new role is an unpleasant experience – or it undoubtedly is for me. I simply don’t have the masochistic tendencies, so clearly required to overtly display your colours, unlike so many of the constantly flitting butterfly managers!