As I read over the list of six conditions that Drucker believed enabled productivity, I came to the conclusion that I have never worked in a place that provided all six. Usually that last one, being seen as an asset as opposed to a cost, is the easy one to see. Management loves to remind you that you are a cost, especially if you work in a tech or training position. Heck, anything other than a sales position in some organizations is a “cost”, and we all know anyone who isn’t directly billing more hours to a client than they get paid in legal is a cost. As we have seen over the last year, you can do great work, but when shareholders and Boards decide it’s time to cut costs, that great work won’t grant you immunity from mass layoffs.
What I am starting to learn, and Gary writes as well, is that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but it might very well be an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to connect with other human beings at a personal level, it’s an opportunity to learn from the expertise of others, and an opportunity for them to put that knowledge to good use. It’s an opportunity to use that combined skill to create a better solution than I would have created by myself.
Most of all hard problems are an opportunity to work as a team or a community, something that we all need as human beings. Whether you are anxious and need a friend to support you, or you can’t find the answer to a vexing technical issue, or you simply need some help learning a new skill, it helps to have people around.
Continue to be great at what you do and hope for an opening in management is not a career plan. That is what appears to be on offer at many companies though. They aren’t preparing anyone to be a manager in the future, and they aren’t increasing headcount that might require more team leads and managers, so how long do we expect people to wait? Add in the number of “senior” folks with higher salaries who find themselves part of a reduction in force, or the number of people who’ve watched their current job change over and over until they find themselves doing work they never signed up for in the first place, and it’s no wonder that workers are taking responsibility for their own growth, by choosing workplaces that give them better opportunities.
No one has to stay and work for you for the next 20-25 years. They can, and will, go elsewhere if there’s no clear path forward. I don’t blame them.
Which got me thinking, if we are taking vacation time, sick time, or even going with a four-day workweek because it will help us come back and be more productive workers, then why bother? Is that all we are? Does everything we do, including what we do outside of work, have to revolve around our jobs?
Last week, I shared an article and some of my own experiences around “culture fit” being a code for discrimination. We all know that is all too common, and an excuse for organizations to continue to hire “people like us”.
I saw another article over the weekend that reminded us that while that is common, there are some cases where someone is a bad cultural fit and there’s no discrimination involved.
There’s no simple answer here but I would look at how you define culture. There should be an organizational culture that includes diversity. Think more about “we value a variety of experiences and viewpoints” as opposed to “we like to work in a locker room environment” and then find the diverse group of people who “fit” your culture.
I will agree with Kevin on this though, “culture fit” is too frequently just code for people like me, and that needs to go away.