Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2009 - re-examine our attitude at work

My recent annual (2008) Key Performance Assessment was done satisfactorily. We, as employees, assessed our own performance based on our own set of KPIs and goals which in turn based on the company's vision and missions.

I have a great boss (hopefully he reads my blog.. he he he) who is also very experience. There was nothing much to discuss as we have a very good working relationship and work environment. We are professionals...however, we cannot run away or hide from office politics.

Re-examine your attitude at work

Last week, I sent an e-mail to a friend who had just lost his job. "I'm so sorry," I wrote. "Your bosses are morons to have got rid of such a genius as you. I can only suppose a queue will shortly stretch round the block as less brain-dead employers clamour to take you on. Hope you are OK."
The e-mail was heartfelt except for one word, and that was "shortly". I don't expect a queue to form for my friend shortly.
Even geniuses are not getting snapped up quickly - unless they happen to be security guards, social workers, accountants or teachers.
In a trice, I had a message back. He said he had had a brief panic about the mortgage and school fees but otherwise was really rather cheerful. Indeed, he was in such high spirits that he even sent me a funny anecdote.

It is tempting to conclude from this message that, if there is one thing worse for hitherto successful, well-paid people than being fired, it is not being fired.
The grimness of the unemployed will get worse as no queues form to take them on, while the grimness of those in work will, in time, start to recede. This is not because the economy will improve - it is because the grimness itself will bring on a sounder and altogether more realistic approach to work.

Over the past decade, the rich, professional classes have developed an increasingly unhealthy attitude to their jobs. We took our jobs and our fat salaries for granted and felt aggrieved if our bonuses were not even bigger than the year before. We demanded that the work be interesting in itself and, even more dangerously and preposterously, that it should have meaning.

The result of all these demands was, of course, dissatisfaction. We had climbed to the very top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and discovered that, at the top of the pyramid, the air was very thin indeed. As an agony aunt, I found that by far the most common problem readers submitted came from rich and senior professionals who had all their basic needs more than catered for, leaving their souls in torment. Help me, I'm bored, they cried. Or, worse: what does my work mean?

In the past few months, anguish of this sort has vanished. When one's job is at risk and one's savings are a shadow of their former selves, the search for meaning at work is meaningless.

Low expectations
The point of a job becomes rather more basic: to feed and house one's family and oneself. If we can do this, then anything we manage over and above this is a bonus. Once expectations have fully adjusted to this new reality and we see earning money as the main reason for work, greater satisfaction will follow.

Low expectations have an awful lot to be said for them. In surveys, women turn out to be more satisfied at work than men, in spite of earning less for the same jobs and doing most of the work at home too. The reason is simple: women's expectations of working life are lower.

The easiest and cheapest way of cheering up demoralised workers is to tell them that they are doing a great job. It is one of the great mysteries of office life why most managers are so resistant to this when it does not cost one penny. Here is all they have to do: pick people off one by one (to do it in groups is lazy and quite spoils the impact) and say thank you and well done, and look as if they mean it.

By Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times


mizzJo said...

This is a good article. Thanks for sharing, bro.

sharidah said...

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