Wednesday, May 27, 2015

That's why they call it "work"

Happy mid-holiday week, friends.  Hope you had the chance to do something fun during the Memorial Day weekend.

This morning's subject is work.  No, I'm not going to address anything specific to my current or past employers.  I made a commitment to myself and to you when I started this little enterprise a few years ago.  But I do want to talk about the state of work in these United States, at least from my own perspective and that of others close to me.

And in the interests of full disclosure, I am indeed grateful that I am not having to perform menial, mind-numbing repetitive tasks like cracking rocks or digging ditches.  There's value in that, to be sure, but I am appreciative of that fact all the same.

The subject came home to me yesterday while talking with a friend and former colleague who, like myself, was recently laid off unexpectedly from the company where we worked together for many years.  He was a solid performer during the time we worked together, prior to that and afterward, too, so his departure was more about company headcount than it was removing someone who wasn't doing a good job.

In any case, we were talking as I drove to Louisville for a meeting and were just going over some of the finer points of job hunting and the networking that inevitably makes that process work better in this day and age.  My friend asked about how long one should keep trying to establish contact or bring about a followup conversation until abandoning a prospective employer, and that began some further thinking on my part.  Which is always dangerous, of course.

So here goes.  I don't understand....

Employers who advertise positions, then ignore virtually everyone who applies for them.  Common courtesy demands at least an acknowledgement, and some companies send such a confirmation but do so via automated means.  THEN they ignore most applicants.  That should change.

My friend responded back to me on a lead, something I had noticed online. He confirmed through a mutual friend that the position title and description are far different from the actual job that's available.  Why use the "bait and switch" technique?  Does a company really have to be evasive in attracting candidates?

I am a former human resources professional and recognize how reorganization or restructuring work, but, honestly, how difficult would it be to sit down with a given employee (in person, but by phone if that's all that can be worked out) and explain what's about to happen?  Demotions, changes in status, reporting relationships and the like would be better accepted by most workers if their bosses were willing to be straightforward and discuss these changes up front.  Instead, all of these "we need to talk" moments engender a lack of trust and serve as major demotivators for most folks I know, anyway.

I could go on, but I think most will get the gist of my comments.  I am reminded of a comment I read online by Richard Branson about how to treat employees.  It says:  “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.” 

Unfortunately, most of us work for folks who are a pretty long way from there.  In any case, have a good remainder of the week.



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