Friday, February 29, 2008

Recognizing Opportunity

Thoman Edison once said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Over the course of my career I have on multiple occassions had to have discussions with employees that play on this theme. Each year that a new crop of young and ambitious graduates enters the workforce, it seems I have to have these discussions with more frequency. I've been able to categorize the behaviors into one of the following:

"Cart Before the Horse Syndrome" - Otherwise known as pay me more now and I'll accept more responsibility later. Those of you who share my beliefs probably find this absurd and almost laughable. If it weren't epidemic and completely frustrating, I'd laugh also. Where in the course of time did parents raise their children to believe that hard work is NOT the key to success? It seems that the current message form parents, teachers, and professors is that employees are entitled to be promoted before they earn the required experience and to question the policy and operational decisions of their superiors.

"Reversed Polarity Disorder" - Otherwise known as laziness. Laziness is a mind set and not a physical condition. My favorite stock speech for this condition includes the line, "if you spent half as much energy working as you do trying to avoid work you'd have my job by now". That usually gets their attention. Especially the ones concurrently afflicted with "Cart Before the Horse Syndrome". This condition has no known cure due to lack of motivation to achieve goals.

"The Leapfrog" - Otherwise known as "if I don't like the answer you give me (i.e. raise or promotion) then I'll just go over your head. This dreaded disease is a career killer. This will put you on the fast track to the unemployment line in any organization worth it's salt.

"Distorted Perception of Self" - Ever notice how some people just can't stop talking about how much they mean to the company? These people trip over themselves to point out what they do, which objectively examined is considered their JOB. Beware the employee with this trait because a case of "reversed polarity disorder" is lurking in the shadows.

There are more, but these are the most frequently diagnosed. I have some advice for anyone suffering from any of the above afflictions. Keep your eyes and ears open. Respect those with more experience than you and value the time spent with them as this will accelerate your learning curve. There is nothing wrong with having frank discussions regarding your position in the organization and the "plan" for you, but making demands will stunt your professional development. Above all else..... work hard and at every opportunity try to make your bosses job easier. Why? Because we didn't become bosses by not being able identify the behaviors listed above and WE are the people making the decisions that are for the greater good of the company... not each individual employed by the company.


peri said...

...and here I thought games of Leapfrog with my "superiors" were what was actually getting me ahead in this crazy corporate world. (Obviously the word superiors is subjective).

Anonymous said...

And I thought I was the one in the relationship that is supposed to give the recruitment and career advice.

JJ said...

Two beautiful and intelligent women left me comments today. Wow.

Chris said...

Your discoveries further validate why I am my own boss. My motto is simple, the more you put into something the more you will get out if it.