By Dr. Debra Dean
To describe the corporate landscape in 2018, one word comes to mind; that word is uncertainty. Employees are uncertain about their future with their current employer. They are also uncertain about decisions being made at various levels in the organization. The financial marketplace is another area of uncertainty as we are unsure if the market will improve this year or not. In other words, uncertainty is continuing to play a role in the world we live in; possibly more now than ever. As a coach, Dr. Dean works with individuals to help them understand that although they cannot control the future; employees can prepare and position themselves for success.
Employees are uncertain about their future with their current employer. This week, Dr. Dean coached an employee who feared for his job security. The company he works for is undergoing change and he has been asked to hand his work off to another department. The writing is on the wall for his team as to their fate with the company. His concern is not just about his current job, but about the marketplace in general. Will his skills be marketable after working for the same company for ten years? Dr. Dean encourages her staff and her clients to always have a Plan B and prepare as much as possible. This includes completing college classes and/or updating the resume with transferable skills. Her advice to her staff over the past five years has remained the same and she is proud that more than half of her staff have returned to school to complete their Master’s degree.
As another example, Dr. Dean met with a compliance technician at a global organization and heard his stories of being treated unfairly. He was not given the training he needed to succeed. When he asked for help, his supervisor would sigh and grumble. He tried very hard to meet his service standards, but the environment was not conducive to helping him develop in his current role. He was not able to keep up with the demands of the job and felt like he was falling behind more every day. He spoke out to his management and to human resources on several occasions, but he was not getting the help he needed. He was in a toxic environment and was unsure if he had a future with his current employer. He asked Dr. Dean for advice about staying in this role or leaving. She was reminded of a time when a Chief Operating Officer (COO) coached her in a similar situation. She was told that not every person is cut out for management. There are some people that are really good technically and others that are gifted with people. Sometimes a person is skilled at both, but when a technical person without people skills is trying to manage it can be difficult for all involved. In this situation, the compliance technician was being managed by a person that was really good as a compliance technician; she was promoted into management but did not have the people skills to manage her team effectively. Dr. Dean worked through the issue with her client and he was quickly able to find another job that suited him much better.
Employees are also uncertain about decisions being made at various levels in the organization. In a recent coaching session with a young salesman, Dr. Dean explained to him that we may not change the company we work for, but we can change how the decisions that are made will impact us on a personal level. The young salesman was excited to work for a large company, but within six months of employment he was finding out that once his customers left him to talk with the finance department, they were not treated with the same amount of respect and integrity as he expected. This frustrated the young salesman as he had hoped that everyone was treated well; after all, the Golden Rule calls us to treat others as we would want to be treated. This young man was questioning, “How can my employer treat my customers so badly and how can I work for such an employer?” Dr. Dean explained that sometimes our values do not align with those around us. She encouraged him in saying that this is a good feeling to recognize because it means he is not desensitized to what is right and wrong. In this situation, hard decisions need to be made. The first thing to remember is that two wrongs don’t make a right. So, it is best to put in a 2-weeks notice instead of just quitting. Secondly, very few people can just leave a job without having another one lined up. So, although the values do not align, it may be necessary to stay temporarily while resumes are sent out and interviews are had. This will give the young salesman time to find a company that does have similar values as him. Although this is a tough situation to be in, there are many life lessons to be learned if one will take time to reflect.
The financial marketplace is another area of uncertainty as we are unsure if the market will improve this year or not. When Dr. Dean teaches a class on Financial Management, she plays a video from Alan Greenspan where he says that fear and euphoria were not factored into his modeling that led up to the Great Recession. The class is often the first glimpse into the Great Recession and Great Depression for students. In fact, the first assignment in class is to write a personal essay on what either of these two events meant to the family and/or community of the student. With this class, Dr. Dean has coached many adult students to help them understand the uncertainty of the economy and the factors that are within their control. Dr. Dean herself was impacted by the Great Recession when her job of 11-years ended and she relocated half of her family to another state for employment. She was not prepared at the time for such a situation. Today, she has earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and updates her resume frequently. She has many transferable skills that can help in such an economic crisis and makes a concerted effort in networking.
As a coach, Dr. Dean helps her clients prepare and reflect. She wants her client to know who they are on a personal level. When a person knows what their values are and what they are passionate about, it can help them find a job they will love. Additionally, preparing a Plan B can help someone cope with the uncertainty of this world as they will feel like they have control over their future if something goes wrong.
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