Job security: senior or junior, executive, professional, employee or contractor, are you really in control of your career and tenure without a plan B or C?
How “safe” do you think your job or role is? No matter how senior, do you really think that you are in a “secure” job or contract? “Secure role” has become a bit of an oxymoron, hasn’t it? Think about it – how quickly can and do things change? Look at your environment over the last few years – isn’t volatility simply part of the deal today? Do you really think they can’t change for you? Are you prepared and in control for when they do?
Job security – a myth?
Last week one of my best friends’ wife was marched to the door of the building of her company after a track record of 16 successful years in a very senior role in a global corporate environment. One of ever tightening KPI’s and remarkable year on year procurement outcomes and significant bottom line improvement results in a vastly deteriorating economic climate of her country. It is a reality in that country at the moment that there are quotas for the proportion of different population groups evident in the structure of any organization – a fact every organization needs to adhere to or avoid at their peril, particularly when it comes to the continuity of lucrative government contracts….
Having her feel like a criminal in front of her shocked employees on that march to the door was all part of the intimidating approach such multinationals adopt today to help “soften up” the individual for the inevitable ensuing negotiations on how much or little separation package either party can secure for themselves.
Who is in control?
I have written about this in So you got shafted… as well as Ego versus Outcomes recently, and in Who is driving your bus? I speak about no matter how senior or junior or whether an executive, an employee, a contractor or consultant, you always need to be in control of your career and your activities. That in today’s globally visible and competitive business world we earn our right to an income one month at a time. That it is naive for anyone to think that their boss or their company or contract or client has any other great interest at heart than their own. That most roles have a 2-3 year focus, maybe sometimes 4 or 5 years at the outset. That we can rarely rely on an individual boss or an organisation to truly have our career interests at heart.
In Are you a “fetch” person? I wrote about how much you proactively “fetch” what you aspire to or expect to progress your stakes or your career. Or whether you passively wait for your boss or the organisation or market (or the world) to “bring” you your next opportunity?
Business place realities
Getting back to the “safe” job or role comments made in the intro I’m sure you’ll agree with me that today the reality of our business environment is plagued (or blessed) with threats of change (and opportunity) not only based on currently massive global economic turmoil and uncertainty but before that already with M&A volatility? Market pressures, M&A or even just plain old organisational or “boss” change can (and does) result in the most positive and performant individuals suddenly “falling from grace”, right?
Now call me downright negative at this point because of the unsavoury picture I am painting (which is certainly not my natural disposition) but would you agree with me that if you step back and think about this, it has become pretty real? And that my friend “could have seen this coming” and had a “plan B” ready?
Immunity to job security?
So can I just check in with you personally very quickly? Just have a think about your current role in your current organisation or contract. Are you immune to any of the above volatilities? Are you prepared for the impacts of any of them occurring to you? Do you have a plan B or C? Are you truly in control of your career? Or may you just be at a potential risk of any of the above vagaries? Please be reminded of my “11th commandment” at this point: “you can kid anyone as much as you like, but you can never kid yourself…”
Doing what it takes
In most of my coaching, mentoring and grooming programs I guide my clients away from any passive approaches to their careers and urge them to take proactive control of their career, as I outlined in my blog Your career – Choice or Chance?. To put yourself actively in the driving seat. To keep an open mind to what’s happening in your division, your company, your industry, your profession, your skills, the relevance of your experience and your ongoing value proposition – so you are always clear about trends, requirements, expectations and opportunities around you. Don’t you owe that to yourself and to those that depend on you?
In my own case I even go so far as to engage my own personal astrologer at the start of each (lunar) year to give me her insights into the energies out there in terms of my very own personal chart interpretation. Whatever it takes, and whatever works for you, right?
On your own?
As I wrote in Mentoring you neither need to, nor can you do all this on your own. Having a sounding board in a mentor or coach is very useful not to rely on their advice but to test and challenge your thinking and offer further perspectives. That doesn’t look to them for a plan, but presupposes that you already have one and that you want to test different approaches of pursuing it while taking potential threats and opportunities into account.
In my performance management grooming and training I urge my clients to take a proactive approach to their own performance review – that you don’t leave that up to the boss, but that you “fetch” an update more often than just the obligatory annual conversation. I suggest that in preparation for each such review you not only have all the necessary facts, evidence and anecdotes to back up your performance and growth but at the same time also have developed a solid understanding of what is occurring within your company and then to test the market as to what’s happening around you and that your resume is up to date. If my friend had done this, the event of last week could never have been such a surprise because she would have held her boss (and herself) accountable to being in the clear about and discussing, agreeing (or disagreeing) and documenting any performance misalignments between them.
So how do you interpret or perceive the “reality” of your current role or job or contract? How “secure” do you think you are? How well are you in control of your career situation? What alternative plans do you have in case things go “pear shaped”?
Or are you leaving that to “others” or perhaps to chance?
What if you felt you weren’t sure and you engaged the services of a coach to work through your situation with you and you either confirmed the degree of “control” you have or figured out a bunch of options and mapped a few plans towards making them happen for you?
What if you could?