The workplace environment has changed dramatically in the last few years, in many ways. The book Danger in the Comfort Zone by Judith M. Bardwick discusses where many companies used to be – a state she calls “entitlement”, where companies were expected to take care of employees for life. When companies were doing well and the economy was growing, they could afford to keep some less productive workers. These workers were often shifted to different areas, to keep them busy (but not necessarily productive). Their long-term loyalty ensured them virtually complete job security.
As the economy became more competitive, this model no longer worked. Organizations began massive downsizings, which meant letting go of “entitled” workers. Employees left behind were in a state of fear – it seemed that no job was safe. In reality, companies were starting to hold employees accountable for their performance, and needed to move past the fear and into a productive, “earning” state. Those people who did became more valuable to their own company, as well as more satisfied with their work and more employable by other companies.
Bardwick talks about how executives and managers can help their companies and employees move from entitlement, through fear and into earning. She gives specific methods, as well as case studies. Perhaps of most interest to the individual is her assertion that no one should stay in the same position for more than 3 years, and at least 25% of assignments should be new each year, to ensure professional growth. This may or may not work in the chemical enterprise, but it’s an interesting observation.
This book offers an interesting historical perspective, and some tips you just might use in your own organization.
This article was written by Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. of Balbes Consultants.