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Weekly Thought Vol. 31 - ...a changing landscape...

“The certainty of misery is better than the misery of uncertainty” – Pogo comic strip

Pinning down your job during this next year could be like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.

You’re faced with new expectations, shifting priorities and different reporting relationships.  Your role may be vaguely defined and your assignments may get altered constantly.  Usually there are more questions than there are answers.

          People who have a high need for structure simply hate this kind of situation.  After a while it even eats on employees who have a high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.  Sooner or later, people like closure.  They grow weary of having to endure open-ended issues, unanswered questions, and a fluid set of responsibilities.

          As Woody Allen once said, though, we live in a world with “too many moving parts”.  So work roles will be a little out of focus much of the time.  Careers may not be as cut and dried as they used to be and this isn’t really happening by choice.  The world is forcing our hand.  A rapidly changing world deals ruthlessly with organizations that don’t change, and people are coming to respect that fact.  For YOUR part, you need to respect the fact that the blur of ambiguity is actually in the best interest of your career.  Perpetual change will be crucial if the organization is to survive in the years to come.

          What this suggests is they you should learn to create role clarity FOR YOURSELF.  Take personal responsibility for figuring out the top priorities, and then point yourself in that direction.  Don’t pull back, waiting for someone else to happen along who can frame out the specifics of your duties in painstaking detail.  Chase down the information that you need.  Fast.   Show initiative in getting your bearings, and in aligning your efforts with the organizations larger plan.  Then give yourself permission to attack the job as best you understand it.   

          Since you’ll be going on guesswork to some extent, your ability to tolerate some things will stand as a “critical skill.”  So, learn to loosen up.  Prepare to feel your way along into the future.  Be willing to “wing it” occasionally.  Develop your ability to improvise-even develop it down to an art form and simply accept the fact that your work life is going to be fuzzy around the edges.

Indeed, managing your career in 2009-2010 may resemble the description of how it feels to write an article like this in the first place: “It’s like driving at night in the fog.  You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”