The age of the employee is dead, gone and about to be forgotten. In the past slaves worked for free, today employees work for money while entrepreneurs make money. In the old days slaves simply did what they were told, today employees have carefully worded job descriptions. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, do what needs to be done to get the job done. These are not minor distinctions nor are these descriptions intended to be a play on words. These three make a significant impact on staff effort initiative and output.
The “employee” was created by the industrial age. That age of mass production mechanized jobs and work procedures and made many employees make many of the same thing by each employee doing one thing. Employees essentially did that one thing for life. A person’s career was based on the mastery of a single skill like, “filling a form” or “making a pot”. So long as an employee mastered that skill, his job was unchallenged, career established and income guaranteed. No more was demanded of him. Indeed no more was desired of him. All one had to do was show up at 8 and check out at 5 with a minimum of 20 widgets handed over to the store supervisor. However, the advances in technology and business organization have dismantled this comfort zone. A minimum 20 widgets for a days work is not enough to guarantee anyone a job.
The information age driven by technology has created a whole new set of demands on organizations and those who work in them. While it was sufficient for industrial age employees to be productive, the new age demands performance. The Industrial age employee did not have to be creative. The job did not require it. While the industrial age employee worked hard to protect his job, today’s employee must create wealth in order to be employed. Employees have transformed into entrepreneurs.
The information age no longer affords employees the luxury of doing one thing for life. Today employees are expected to do many different things. Indeed, staff are expected to do many things differently! It is no longer appropriate to call them employees. The character of successful employees is more like entrepreneurs making wealth for the employer (profits) and themselves (rewards). Employees from the industrial age cannot hope to survive in the information age. Staff in the information age must be ready to think, take initiative and do what it takes to make a profit in order to keep their jobs. To think of employees as entrepreneurs sounds like an anomaly if you come from the industrial age. Nevertheless, workers who succeed in the information age must be entrepreneurs or at the very least have an entrepreneurial mindset, because today’s organizations cannot afford to pay employees, they can only succeed if they hire entrepreneurs to work for them.