In the workplace, it’s important to remember that all are created differently in that not everyone is going to have the same ambitions. We assume sometimes that everyone wants to move up in the organization. That’s not always the case. What people generally want more of, no matter where they want to be heading, is a greater control over their own fate at work.
I see 5 key personal priorities that employees often need to set for themselves:
Personal Priorities To Control Your Own Fate And Be Happy
Continuous learning and exposure to new things
Building and maintaining the trust of others; being respected
Having a voice in where we’re heading
Making a difference through tangible accomplishments and results
Looking forward to coming to work while making/having time to enjoy life outside of the office
If any of the 5 above are missing for a prolonged period of time, it might be time to move on.
“What if I don’t want to move up in the organization?”
Controlling your own fate can mean that you want to stay right where you
are. You don’t really want to move up and are happy being left relatively alone. If you can feel like you have some control over that, you’re in a very good place.
If the shoe is on the other foot and you’re a manager of someone who doesn’t want to move up, don’t make the mistake of trying to make those people into something they’re not. I’m assuming the person is at least solid in the task they’re presently doing, of course. If you find yourself in a type of supervisory role, the key here is not to say, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you have any ambition or want to try something new?” That’s not going to work for a number of reasons.
Instead, you might tell them, “No problem. You’re doing a terrific job. If and when you want to do something different with your skill set, however, I’m here to talk about that. Let me know how I can help.”
As long as you are providing direct, honest communication to your people and letting them know that an open conversation about their career growth or possibilities can be had if and when they want to have it, you’re giving that person a sense of control over their own fate. It’s hard to have a big problem with that.
Still, they can’t always have their cake and eat it too.
A person can stay in their role, but by the same token, they can’t be upset if the organization has to adjust around them in ways they may or may not like.
Let me give you an example:
I was working in an accounting firm that had different tiers like most professional service organizations do. The people who had the highest compensation, the greatest rewards and the eventual title of Partner were the ones who had the broadest ability to demonstrate the firm’s value to others. Those couldn’t do that…couldn’t be all that surprised when they didn’t get the plum assignments.
Keep relevant. Don’t be a Blocker.
To be clear on this, there’s a difference between staying in place and being a Blocker. A Blocker says, “I don’t want to learn anything new. I just want to do what I’m doing now for a long time. And since I’ve already been here for years, I deserve all the accolades and privileges that come with me having seniority.”
Well, too bad. You’re not entitled to do exactly what you want to do forever.
Yes, you can stay in place. But when you aren’t learning anything new while expecting others below you to stay below you, that’s another story. At that point, you’re a Blocker. You put yourself at risk because you don’t know anything else. What happens if they outsource those skills? What will you do then if you haven’t evolved? When you aren’t evolving within your role, you could be the best buggy whip maker in the world. But how many people need buggy whips? Not a whole lot.
A Blocker is also typically very resistant to any kind of significant change in the organization.
So let’s review. In a Blocker, you have a person who:
Doesn’t want to learn anything new
Doesn’t want anyone to advance above him or her
Doesn’t often support change, even if it’s the kind of good change the company needs
At some point, a leader has to look at this individual and say, “Are they holding people back? Are they still as relevant as they once were?”
Remaining relevant is a key element to controlling your own fate.
In the second half of this post, we’ll take a look at why you can’t expect others to control your own fate for you and what you can do to actively change that dynamic.
By the way, if I’m giving you some good food for thought in how you can take control of your own fate, I think you’ll like some thoughts on how you influence your company’s fate as well through the Value Drivers Move The Needle planning process. This proven approach for high-level managers will help you build a consensus on your strategic imperatives, such as what your company should stop, start and continue doing. If you’re interested in learning more about how this program can give you a structured plan for at least the next 3 years, contact Value Drivers today at 312.827.2643.