Reality Check 2010

Angry Face
Image by Piez via Flickr

Susan stared at the notice in disbelief.  Her hands shook and the words began to blur as tears formed in her eyes.  She felt as though someone had punched her in the belly.  A rush of emotions flooded through her as she tried to compose herself to speak. Her boss sat silently across from her stoic and detached. The HR Director tried in vain to look compassionate but unemotional.

Her boss clearly uncomfortable, cleared his throat in an effort to fill the silence. Susan looked up with a hard cold stare, “I worked hard for you for more than 20 years. With every change I was the first to put a positive spin on it. When there was a task or project that needed leadership, I jumped in, no questions asked. I have been a model employee and I thought if I worked hard you would take care of me!”

Being laid off from a job is an emotional process.  In fact any change in your working conditions  – from an office move to a change in responsibilities has the potential to ignite an emotional response.

Susan uttered what many people feel when they are reorganized, downsized, or otherwise informed that their services are no longer needed.  Susan’s anger while understandable was misplaced.

The reality is (and has been for quite some time) it is not your employer’s job to secure your income, manage your career or make you happy. It is YOUR job.

Somewhere along the way, many of us erroneously outsourced our work life to our employer. Career management was reduced to completing our annual  360 review and we even complained about that. We took our laptop on vacation, worked from home nights and weekends and then grumbled about our stressful jobs.

It’s a new decade and it’s time to wake up and take charge. Your work life does not happen to you. You make things happen. If things are less than satisfactory on your job, change them.

Begin by writing down clear and measurable 1 year, 5 year and 10 year goals. What do you want from your career? What do you want to learn? What steps do you need to take each and every day to make sure you are moving toward your goals?Are you working with purpose on your current job?

Your goals should embrace your whole work life, including time spent at work, learning goals, mentors and your work environment. If there are things about your current work life that you want to improve, do it.  How is your dissatisfaction affecting your work and more importantly the company’s bottom line? Propose changes, but remember to focus on how they benefit the company not you.

When you take an active role in your career you will become a better employee, which is a bonus for you and your employer.

Have you fallen prey to the victim syndrome at work? What things can you change this year to ensure your work happiness?

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  • Karen,

    When we sign up for a new job, they (our new employer) promise only to meet the agreed contractual terms of the particular employment arrangement in question.

    They promise neither career nor financial success, and they certainly don’t promise overall happiness. These things depend upon us – the choices we make, the initiative we seize (or don’t) and the level of responsibility which we as individuals choose to accept.