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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What would you do?

What would you do if you found out that your boss had secretly advertised your job and received 6000 applicants? What would you do differently?
I have been working with employees and employers for the past 20 years and I can tell you that I have come across more than a few people who have seen their jobs advertised in the newspapers under some coded classified Ads or cleverly crafted profiles.  It is like coming face to face with reality, the future and death. I have seen GMs jobs advertised while they are still in office and I know that some people here might have benefitted from a similar process. - For the boss it is a practical thing to do whenever you suspect that you are not getting all you can possibly get from an employee

The reality is that we don’t give the matter of losing a job much thought until we discover the bosses presumably illicit move to lose confidence in us. A number of years ago I discovered my boss had lost confidence in me and it drove me to look for another job. I was facilitating a two day training workshop at an Up-market hotel. Unfortunately, the VCR we were using got lost. I reported the matter and the firm immediately hired another one to enable me complete the training. However, a few days after the training I was called in to the hotel and sat opposite the hotel guard and my boss who proceeded to question me on what happened to the VCR. The discussion was such as to suggest that I had stolen the VCR. I served notice and quit 3 months later. I was incensed that my boss could even think that was possible. Good riddance would you say? Think for a moment.
The damning revelation of the question we are investigating today is that the heart question is not the boss but really the declaration that you are irrelevant, dispensable, no longer useful and that you have been living a lie in the self belief that you are the epitome of your existence and that you have a right to the position you hold as an employee, husband, wife, businessman or CEO. The damning revelation that the boss can do without you would suggest that you occupy the position as a mere privilege!
6,000 OPTIONS!
The story I am telling is not far fetched. Employees at the port of Mombasa went on strike last week. Their jobs were advertised by their employer. 6,000 applicants turned up! That should send a powerful message to those employees. The question is did they get the message? I doubt it. On my training programs I routinely remind employees at all levels that if, for some reason they had to re-apply for their jobs today, none of them would get it. With some reflection, most employees realize that this is true. However, they all continue to live as if it wasn’t. I make it a point to remind employees that employment is a privilege, to be a husband, a wife, to have a job is a privilege. Indeed to be alive is a privilege.
The fact the your boss can call on 6000 options for your position is a little demeaning and is sure to puncture the largest ego. To be only one in a possible six thousand makes you feel rather small if not irrelevant. Most of us would have to fight to believe that we have a right to all we have worked so hard to achieve.
What would you do if you discovered that there are 6,000 other people who can match your opinion, your ideas and indeed your performance? What would you do if you found that 6,000 people would happily attend your funeral to get a free meal? What if you appreciated that your departure would directly benefit 6,000 people? What would you do if you knew that 6,000 people are waiting in the wings to take everything you think is valuable away from you. What would you do different if you find out that what you think about anything really does not matter to 6,000 people. What would you do if you understood that 6000 people would gladly take away what you take for granted.
In these circumstances, the focus becomes the boss. I quit the job because I could (that may not be a solution), but what if your boss is your wife or God? What if your wife or husband secretly advertised your position and received 6,000 applications. If you found out you would begin to ask very different questions; What have I done to deserve this, why are they doing this to me, how did this come about? That question would trigger some real soul searching. The more important focus is not the boss but “me”! “I thought I was doing okay. I thought I am the best. How did this happen to me? Did I miss something”. That question immediately throws you out of your comfort zone and far away from your umbrella of self deception. You begin to think “what am I doing” and “what should I be doing? Maybe I should be doing something else?” When you discover that you are not the man you thought you were to your boss, husband or God – it is not comforting. You really thought you were the best. You beat the greatest odds to be where you are now. You beat 40 million sperms to get into this world and that makes you indeed the best heaven could offer. However, 6,000 applicants for your job should tell you that the competition is regrouping. “
Several years ago I was doing roaring business running numerous retrenchment, retirement and similar programs for multinationals, government and private organizations. The one thing that was common to all those programs was the shock employees expressed at being sent home “early” (in their opinion) and deep, expressed regret of wasted opportunity. I try not to conduct these “late-date” programs any more and encourage employers to conduct retirement training as part of new employee induction. You get better mileage out of employees that way. A job is pointless if you leave it with regret just as living is pointless if you cannot leave a legacy.
As an employer I can tell you 6,000 option is good mathematics and exceptional economics. There are hundreds of employees, including CEOs and business owners who have overstayed their welcome in their positions. What these self satisfied people don’t usually appreciate is that there are 6,000 perhaps cheaper options to their inefficiency and ineffectiveness.
The issue is not the boss, the advert the 6,000 competitors nor that heaven is investigating its options. The issue is, “what should you be doing?”. Most people never get to know that their job has been advertised, but if you ever find out I’d like to suggest the following;  

1.       Live with greater purpose than your ego permits.
2.       Do your job so well that you will lay a firm foundation for those who come after you.
3.       Find something else to do. Learn a new skill – learn to play a violin!
4.       Stay relevant -Keep learning in your organization. Find out who the boss is.
5.       Take whatever comes to you with grace as a divine privilege and go through with it.
6.       Chose your successor. Rebrand and Reinvent yourself… move out!
7.       Humble yourself and serve others more. Be less selfish. Someone out there who is better than you.
8.       Set fire to your comfort zones. Enjoy the privileges you have, but hold them lightly (not tightly).
9.       Plan your family holidays, retirement, your trip to the moon and for when you are not there!
10.   If all else fails - Advertise your own job!
Allan Bukusi

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