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4 Ideas on Rethinking the Way We Work

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Creative Commons License Photo Credit: katiew via Compfight

I’ve heard many people complain over the last year that millennials are lazy and they don’t want to work. As I’m looking around I’m seeing a growing trend of self employment or people beginning the path to self employment. After years of buying into the myths that help corporate America to fuel its own existence, people are finally waking up to the fact that they’ve got an opportunity for something far better than a cubicle farm, higher paycheck and a better job title. People are finding ways to redefine and rethink the way we work more than anytime in history. As my friend Greg Hartle says we’ve entered a creative economy.

1. Stop Waiting for the Economy to Improve

I’m always a bit puzzled by people who talk about the economy improving as if a day is coming when dream jobs will be falling out of the sky. Our economic climate changed forever four years ago.  Rather than forcing square pegs into round holes, it might be be time to start adjusting to the conditions and ride the wave in the direction it’s taking us.  That might mean something different to everybody depending on where you’re at in your life and your career.

As I’ve said it’s up to you to determine your own signs of a meaningful life. 

2. Creativity Dies In the Confines of Cubicles

A while back I said the 8 hour work day doesn’t make sense. It went viral and it pissed off lots of people. Somehow that’s normally the case when you write anything that becomes wildly popular. My issue isn’t with the number of hours, but the structure of a typical work day. I’ve yet to read a book on creativity and productivity that said any of the following

Yet, if you look at most of the corporate world this is actually how work is structured. When I recently interviewed for a position that resulted in an article titled the 5 warning signs of a job you’ll hate, I was amazed at how malignant the office environment was.  Everybody there seemed like zombies sleepwalking through the world. Not surprisingly my suspicions were confirmed by the reviews of employees on Glassdoor.com

3. Values Are Changing

A few weeks ago I was speaking with a consultant about leadership development within organizations. She had mentioned that one of the trends that employers really need to become aware of is the value shift of gen-Y. Prestigious job titles, extra bullets on the resume, and the prospect of a higher paycheck no longer have the appeal they once did.  What people are really after is meaning and purpose in their work.  When I look back at many of my previous jobs, I realize that there was really no meaning or purpose in the work I did.  I didn’t see the impact.

4. Performance Improvement Plans Don’t Work

If you read the book The Three Laws of Performance you’ll stumble upon on a really interesting insight about performance improvement plans.  They don’t work very well if at all.   But this is not something isolated the work force. It goes as far back as grade school. Let’s say you start getting bad grades in math, but are a brilliant artist. The teacher sends a note home to your parents saying that you’re not doing well in math. So now you focus on fixing something you suck at, completely oblivious to the fact that what you focus on grows.  When we start any performance improvement plan, it begins with a context. The context is that you suck at something.  Within that context limitation of what’s possible is built in. Rather the focus on fixing what somebody is awful at, why not work on amplifying what they’re amazing at?

To get the most out of a work force, we’ll need to give a bit more thought to what their long term goals are. We’ll need to start rethinking the way we work. They days of building an entire career inside the walls of one company are over.

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