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Self-management 101

Whenever you go to college and you talk about business and management philosophy, a resounding theme comes up. It is a theme about businesses taking responsibility for poor policy. Whenever your employees aren’t reaching their full potential, you should be looking at your organization, its structure and how well you are communicating expectations to employees. It is unnatural and weird to first examine your company whenever there is a breakdown in your organization. At least it is for me. It is still against the norm for companies to be looking at what they could be doing better but it seems like it is getting better.

Whenever there is a problem at your workplace as an employee in communication with your boss, a co-worker or a missed goal, the opposite holds true. Many employees take the easy way out by blaming their employers for their failures at work. As an HR person, I know first hand how often this comes up in interviews. “I couldn’t reach my potential in this position.” “My boss promoted the CEO’s son instead of me.” You learn similar things about a candidate from the offer and acceptance process and the excuses that could come up if she is not successful and she is interviewing for a new job. If a move is made from a large corporation to a startup, she could blame the lack of structure when she interviews for another big firm two years later. He’s been the “CEO” of a very small business and now he is taking a role that is much more structured and much more niche than what he was doing before.

These types of sacrifices happen all the time when switching jobs. You weigh the positives and negatives to taking a job. So maybe you take a pay cut, a different position, a smaller company, a bigger company, a company you know you can’t grow in or a company you have to grow in. You take these sacrifices and say “I can handle it.” Then you forget about all of these and you don’t change your expectations for the job. So now you want more pay, your old position, a bigger company, a smaller company, a company you can grow in and a company you don’t have to grow in to survive.

So whenever somebody says to me that they weren’t challenged or weren’t paid enough, I always ask a follow up to detect if they knew this before they were brought on board and if they attempted to make the best of the situation.

Changing jobs because your expectations were not met isn’t a big deal but if it happens repeatedly in your career, hiring managers will figure it out and they might suspect you have a hearing problem. If you are aware of the sacrifices you are making to take a job, write them down. Keep them. Reread them in three months. And don’t take anything a company says at more than face value. If you get blindsighted by an expectations gap, work as hard as hell to personally conquor that gap. Not only will you be bettering your prospects at the company, you’ll be prepared to seek another position elsewhere if it comes to it. Then you won’t be making excuses for poor performance, you’ll simply be explaining the steps you took to improve your situation and the progress you achieved.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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