Organizations can't stop the world from changing…..
The best they can do is adapt. The smart ones change before they have to.
The lucky ones manage to scramble and adjust when push comes to shove.
The rest….well, are at a loss and many of them become history.
As organizations maneuver in an effort to cope with rapid change, some careers always get caught in the cracks. It's unfortunate, but unavoidable. Some employees get pinched and, naturally, people cry foul. They accuse top management of "breaking the psychological contract," of changing the rules. But it's more accurate to say the organization is merely responding to a rule change called by the WORLD.
The irony is that executives are in a no-win situation. If they're smart, and change early like they should, they're described as uncaring and over-reactive. If they drag around and don't change until the world forces the issue, they're considered inept as well as cruel.
Part of the problem lies in the "entitlement" mind-set that has crept into our thinking over the past couple of decades. People came to believe that, because of all the years of work they put in, the organization "owed" them continued employment. Sticking with an outfit - loosely referred to as loyalty - was supposed to entitle a person to job security. Employees learned to expect regular pay increases and periodic promotions. Some folks even went so far as to presume they had a "right" to expect their employers to keep them happy and provide high job satisfaction. The burden of responsibility for people's careers kept shifting further and further away from employees, and more onto the backs of employers. Both parties bought into this system, and it has been bad for all concerned.
Too often, employees rest on their past achievements, instead of requiring themselves to constantly upgrade their skills. They counted on their work HISTORY to qualify them for a promising career FUTURE. They have become too dependent on their employers, expecting protective employee policies to shield them from the raw forces of change going on around the globe.
Obviously, it hasn't worked. High-velocity change has eliminated the need for many jobs. Here at our corporate offices, phone lines have dropped from 36 to 9...staff from as many as 15 to 8. Because of new technology and competition, organizations are being reshaped and work is being done differently. The marketplace is merciless, and it puts definite limits on how generous or protective an organization can be with its people.
What this means for you is that you should re-frame your relationship with your organization, just as it must re-frame it's relationship with customers and competitors. Don't fall into the trap of assuming that you're automatically "entitled" to pay increases, promotions or even your job...even if you perform well. Circumstances will keep changing. The best thing you can do is constantly upgrade your skills, stay flexible, and never con yourself into thinking that your employer is supposed to protect YOUR future.
The era of entitlement is ending. Instead of relying on your "rights," take personal responsibility for your career. Put your faith in the future...and in yourself. Embrace change, and develop the work habits you need for job success in the Information Age.
"It's a question of whether we're going to go forward into the future, or past to the back."
-former Vice President Dan Quayle