Opinions, thoughts, and ideas on leadership, management, software development, and people development.

Category: Lifestyle

You Don’t Lose Your Job. Your Company Loses You.

One of my fears was to leave my country and go to another country to learn about human development and technological entrepreneurship. I pointed out that this will imply into losing my current job and will affect my comfort levels (I was in the comfort zone).

From everything above, I’d like to highlight the word “losing” in “losing my job”, because today, 6 years later my immediate feeling when I read this word was not a feeling of loss but a feeling of winning. I might have been a losing situation for my forme employer, but for me, what initially seemed as a loss was indeed a win, but at that time I couldn’t recognize that. And I’m curious to explore why did that happen and happens from time-to-time still today with me and I bet with many other people as well. Why do we say “I’m afraid of losing my job” instead of “I’m afraid my current employers will Lose me”? Why do we have so low self-esteem and we see ourselves highly dependent on our jobs?

I’m not a scientist or an expert on this matter but I have my empirical knowledge that helped me to understand some perspectives or triggers that usually led us to think like that.

The first trigger or constraint to different thinking is without a doubt: Income. If your only source of income is what you get paid as a result of the work you provide to your employer, then you might think that if you can’t provide this work anymore you Lose your income, and that is what makes you state that you’re afraid of losing your job, when in reality you’re afraid of losing your income.

If you think about this topic, the only strong bond that ties you to your employer is your income. If you somehow make you less dependent on that, you’ll start seeing things differently.

Now let’s explore other perspectives that might establish a different mindset.

Companies don’t exist without employees. The levels of dependency might vary, but they’ll depend on your services provided by people in order to exist. So, you’re the most important asset for the company followed by the company’s product, which is also created by the services you provide. Just that should be enough to give you the frame you reference you need to see yourself as key for the organisation and your organisation should see yourself the same way as well. Because we’re now facing more and more shortage of workers, it’s becoming every year more and more clear that if companies don’t start treating people well they’ll lose, and will Lose badly.

Another perspective is that you own the skills you acquired, you worked hard to assimilate them, learn them, put them in practice in order to acquire experience, and this is the value you provide to the company you’re working for. The ability to use what you know to build the company’s vision. You’re renting your services to the company and the company is paying you in exchange for your knowledge. Let’s say the company don’t need or you don’t want to provide your services to this company. That’s a perfectly fine situation, looking just at this perspective, and you should see as a natural evolution of yourself. You’ll now use your skills to help other companies that will still need your services and will pay for it.

There are a few variables that might influence your ability to make these transitions easily. If you are a specialist in an area that it’s not in high demand or it’s a very specific area, you’ll probably won’t have too many companies in that area where you can move to. That becomes a constraint for you that that’s something you should evaluate how to mitigate in order to reduce its influence on your ability to stay dependent on your current company. Another variable would be if you’re entering the market. You might not have too much experience yet, that means your options might be limited as well. Age, industry, your personal situation, all are also variables involved in the equation of employability.

What about low skilled jobs? People should aim to improve their skills. They should not accommodate and don’t improve their skills. Governments should support them to improve either by subsidising training, supporting in career planning, and through better public policies that incentivise professional development alongside social support. And they should own the responsibility to improve themselves as well. Just waiting for a magical solution that will make you more valuable in the market won’t happen.

What can employers do to help? Stop exploring people as resources. We’re not resources anymore. We’re people and we need support to grow and be fairly treated otherwise “You’ll Lose me” because I’ll find a place where I do have such conditions.

What about high skilled jobs? People should not focus only on getting money, but focus on what they really want to do professionally and take advantage of this great situation to create the best version of themselves.

In summary, there’s always a way and something you can do without depending on anyone that will minimize the impact of constraints and potentialize the influence of variables, such as experience, domain knowledge. These actions might increase your chances of having a higher level of work mobility to a point where you can say “I’m afraid this company will Lose me” instead of “I’m afraid of losing my job”. Stop for a while and do some research on how to overcome fears, how to do career planning, how to do goal setting, etc. These tools might help you a lot to adjust your frame of reference around this topic.

How I Approach New Year’s Resolutions

This is that time of the year where most of us set resolutions for the new year that just started. We usually feel confident and hopeful that the new year will be a better one and we should do some things differently this year so we can improve and become better human beings. Classical examples are:

  • Start doing more exercise.
  • Read more books.
  • Heave a healthy diet.
  • Write more.
  • Learn X.
  • Get Y.

And the list goes on and on. This year I decided to use a different approach, one that I informally have used in the past years and now I decided to use in a more formal way to inspect in retrospect the year that just has passed.

This year I used a Past Year Retrospective to map and have an idea of what I did during the whole year of 2018, what was my main mindset and also to understand some frustrations and pitfalls. The result was quite interesting, because not only I was able to visually see what happened in my mind and how I thought and behave in some cases but also I was able to get some insights on how I learned, how I spent my time and money and some other interesting personal insights.

My Past Year Retrospective for 2018 – Image was blurred due to personal info on the page.

I found this exercise so nice and so insightful that I decided to create a template to share with you. You can find the link to download the template at the end of this article.

As you can see in the image above, the idea is deadly simple. Just grab a blank sheet of A4 size paper and start putting the main topics that you remember from the past year on the paper. After a minute you’ll start making connections between them so you can visualize the relationship between them, causality, and even repetition. This visualization exercise is super important, I do this a lot professionally, especially during retrospectives – because it’s a powerful way to clearly see what’s going on and a starting point for many other exercises or actions. Once you have this visualization done you can use it to extract a lot of answers for questions like:

  • Where I’m investing most of my time?
  • Where do I get knowledge from? Is that good or bad? Which type of knowledge I’m getting?
  • Where I’m spending my money? Is it being well invested?
  • Where I’m struggling?
  • Where there was visible progress?

As you can see, creating the visualization will help you organize your information so you can answer critical questions that will help you to set more realistic expctations and actions for the new year.

On the right side of the page, I added a column with some sections to capture some qualitative data as well. On the back of the page, I added 3 more columns to complete the whole set of information that will help me to set more actionable resolutions for the new year.

The Past Year Retrospective Template

As I said the template is super simple and with low value if you don’t put some effort to really remember your whole year month-by-month and add the info to the paper. That’s when the value will be more evident to you.

Front of the Past Year Retrospective Template

The front-page contains a big space on the left and a column on the right. The big space is a free area where you’ll jot down topics that happened in the past year and you’ll make the connections between them. Example:

Example of a visual mapping – topics influencing each other.

The back of the page contains 3 columns.

Back of the Past Year Retrospective Template

The first one is for writing the good things you did or happened to you during the last year. I write them as bullet points, so that’s my recommendation to you. The second column is dedicated to things you’d like to achieve in the new year. Write items using bullet points as well. Don’t mind to be very specific or to overthink here at this column, it’s just the starting point for your future plans. The third and last column is designed to bring the financial component to the retrospective. Write here the expenses you think you didn’t manage well. I wrote, for instance, how much did I spend on Amazon shopping and was able to figure out that was not that bad this year compared to 2017.

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed this method and you’ll give it a try. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or drop me a message on twitter @jcfausto

Download the template by clicking the link below.

Download the template here: Past Year Retrospective Template

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