Months ago, in a conversation I had with Liz Wiseman about “Change Makers versus Agitators,” she spoke about how trying to advocate for your own goals and expectations within an organization, if done prematurely, can be career suicide.
She directed young careerists to support the company goals first, and help their managers and organizations achieve success, then (and only then) attempt to put their stamp on the company. If you are successful, she iterated, you will eventually earn your stripes; you will have earned the respect required to advocate for your own ideas.
Looking back, I still see Liz’s advice as both wise and pragmatic, but it made me wonder:
How far is too far? In today’s economy, can you go so far in supporting an organization’s goals that you lose yourself and your own values in the process?
So in this episode of Breaking Glass, we tackled the question of how to manage your own career expectations against company goals. Joining our discussion: the amazing Ayelet Baron, futurist and keynote speaker, and the always direct Joe Cardillo, project manager and entrepreneur.
Here are the salient points we discovered in our conversation:
Where Exactly is the “Goal” Line Drawn Between Us and Our Employer?
What happens when the organizations’ values don’t fit your own? Do you adapt… or just leave?
Joe believes that negotiation plays a big role in this, including negotiation with yourself. You need to determine what lines you are willing to draw and negotiate with yourself before you try to draw a line with your employer. He believes that in order to negotiate what is right for us, we need to really understand who we are ourselves… what will work for us – and what won’t.
Ayelet pointed out that often, life shows up for us. The economy and challenging job market means that none of us have as much freedom as we might in a booming economy. You will also need to understand when you’ve reached your potential within a position and when it’s time to leave. You may, however, also be able to invent your job into something different and unique – it may not be as black and white as quitting.
Ayelet echoed a common talking point from YouTern’s founder, Mark Babbitt: focus on what you are effortlessly good at – what you love to do – and find a job that pays you to do just that. Then, you’ll find you won’t have to negotiate much; that your goals will be closely aligned.
Corporate American Needs to Wake Up
A sentiment we hear often at YouTern: We are using antiquated, 20th century management practices in a 21st century work environment that requires so much more.
We need to ask new questions. We need a fresh look at the answers. And we need a more social mindset to come up with solutions.
For example: the old-school concept of work-life balance, and separating our work life from our personal life. Today, we are no longer two people – professional and personal. Technology has blended work and personal time; we’re all working so much, and are so emotionally invested in that work, that we crave meaningful, important work that takes into account who we are as whole people.
We’ve over complicated business. We have so segregated the way we talk about the workforce today into groups by age, gender, and even race – and that needs to change. This is the first time in the history of work we have five generations working together, which brings a diversity of thought business needs to take advantage of.
Smart people and businesses are waking up to these changes and, instead of pining for the old days, are saying: “This is amazing! There is an opportunity to learn from each other, and create amazing solutions, that has never existed before!”
Technology: Changing Our Opportunities
Technology gives us the opportunity to stop segregating ourselves; we can work with people all over the globe; we can communicate instantly with anyone!
Business needs to look hard at using technology to build a work culture that rewards and attracts great talent. They need to leverage global communication for the good of their customers and employees. And they need to use technology to create new opportunities for their company, and their people.
But this technology doesn’t exist solely for large organizations. Today’s technology makes the barrier to entry for our entrepreneurial efforts much lower. Side hustles, or side projects, can give you a pathway out of a dead end job. All of us can take advantage; each of us can leverage technology to grow – professionally and personally.
Ayelet pointed out that by 2020 50 percent of the population will be self-employed; currently 30 percent of Millennials work for themselves. She mentioned the “Gig Economy” has brought a lot of change. But that doesn’t mean we work alone. Independent people hire other independent people, often on a project-by-project case; they build their own informal teams. To Corporate America, this means they must be far more nimble and creative in order to compete, meet challenges and retain top talent.
Can We Have Our Cake and Eat It, Too?
All of the talk about self-employment and the freedom it brings brought me to ask:
“Is enterprise-level work fundamentally incompatible with having a meaningful, value oriented job?”
Joe believes the drive for profit at the core of almost all Corporations means that perhaps you shouldn’t be looking to hang onto your values there. He believes, if you are values-driven, it may not be a bad approach to consider working for a start-up or non-profit. I agree, to a point, but there are also many people who have fulfilling, meaningful jobs and do great work within large organizations.
Ultimately, as we discussed on this episode of Breaking Glass, and as we talk about at YouTern, much of this decision-making process depends upon the individual… and we all have to draw our own lines based on our personal purpose – and what we really want out of life.
Join our next Breaking Glass Blab series tomorrow at 10 am PST / 1 pm EST when we discuss: “Does Emotion Co-Exist with Business?” In the meantime, watch our entire discussion are alignment of personal versus organization goals here:
About the Author: Amy McCloskey Tobin is a content strategist and creator. She specializes in generational insights, the future of work, the remote workforce, workplace diversity, and how tech has changed the business world. Amy has worked with major online publications to develop content and content strategy. A devotee of social media, Amy believes firmly that great content begets social media community.