By Phil Blair, president, MANPOWER SAN DIEGO
The era of long marriages between employer and employee is over. The relationship today is more like long-term dating. The average length of time that an employee stays with one company is five to seven years. This is a far cry from the 35 years to retirement at one place.
In today’s turbulent workplace, the odds are that forces are at work —from the outside or from within your company — to disrupt your job security. Employees should check the state of their company and the security of their positions regularly. Don’t assume you needn’t worry just because profits are up.
However, this advice is not intended to make you paranoid, rather diligent. Do a self-assessment. Ask yourself questions like: “What did I learn in the last year?” “Did I attend a seminar, read a book, take an extension class?” It’s this way of thinking that keeps you on your toes and increases your motivation for self-improvement, forcing you to become more proactive, take on more responsibility and remain objective.
Most people begin to get antsy after two years at one job. You need to look for new challenges instead of looking for another job or worse; become complacent in the job you have.
During your first two years on the job, you are most vulnerable to someone stepping into your position. If management sees unremarkable work, they may start to think that “Joe” in the Product Development department has a lot more enthusiasm, is younger and would work for less money. Your company then perceives that you have not been doing a good job and you should be replaced. It’s your job to see this doesn’t happen.
Turn the “does-someone-want-my-job?” fear into positive motivation. At Manpower, we tell people to look for the job they want — even if it’s their current job. Make sure you’re the best person to do your job for the rest of your career. Invest in lifelong learning, offer creative solutions to do your job better and invest in continued self improvement.
Watch successful people and learn from them. At your annual performance review, list your contributions and the extra things you did. Ask your boss what you should be doing to become more promotable. Stay on top of new technology. “Try to be liked by as many people in power as possible,” advises Andrew DuBrin, a professor of management at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “People who keep their jobs generally work efficiently and are well liked.”
People are moving around more than ever. You never know where opportunity is going to knock. In most cases, if you follow the advice of your internal human resource counsel, you’ll continue to do well in your job. However, also be prepared for every possibility. The best thing you can do is to become your own human resource consultant.