ROI
Life is Drama, But Work Doesn’t Have to Be
Five ideas for being a better worker.
“People who need people, they’re the luckiest people in the world,” or so the song goes. If that’s true, though, why do I feel so unlucky?

For many years, colleagues from virtually every industry imaginable have agreed their Number One need, desire, concern and frustration is finding good people to hire. Regardless of job level or education experience, hiring qualified people is possibly the biggest challenge industry faces globally.

In my little corner of the world, which happens to be close to some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world, executives in companies of all sizes tell me the mantra is, “Where are the good people?” (Note: No one asks, “Where are the people?” The operative word here is “good.”)

To be sure, colleagues share remarkably similar stories about people who have been hired only to be fired in short order. Such occurrences were once rare, but today are too often the rule. Based on personal experience and countless shared stories, I have identified five issues that individually or collectively are common in today’s job applicants:

  1. Everyone likes manufactured things but no one wants to be a manufacturer. The image of manufacturing is that of a dirty sweatshop. Yet enter any plant, be it semiconductors or steel or automobiles or circuit boards, and the reality is companies are modern, computerized and clean, and require smart, engaged team players. When recruiting and interviewing, refute the negative image and highlight the opportunities. For job seekers who believe manufacturing is a dead-end job, consider the latest gadget you use – the phone or tablet or even the car – and what it takes to make it. Spoiler alert: There’s real career opportunity in manufacturing!
  2. Success in any endeavor requires discipline. Discipline is not difficult, but it requires commitment. Discipline means showing up to work on time, not just once, but every day. Discipline means getting up early enough to get ready for work, including that first cup of coffee. Discipline means getting good rest at night so you can wake up in time to get ready for work and arrive on time. Discipline means getting home from whatever you are doing the night before so you can go to bed early enough…. Get the message? Even during this pandemic-influenced time, employers expect employees to be at work on time and put in a full day, and then, OMG, do it again. Too many applicants don’t have the basic discipline to keep a good job. Spoiler alert: It’s simple; it just requires commitment!
  3. Everyone has “stuff” going on in their personal life. A demanding work environment requires focus, however. Employees need to check their personal drama at the door. Do you really need to tell everyone what someone said that made you mad? Spoiler alert: We all have a life; keep yours to yourself and there will be far less drama for all.
  4. Is it a job or a career? Many workers live day-to-day and just want a “job.” That’s fine, but you may be surprised how many jobs you end up at without ever earning more money. Workers change employers more often today than a generation ago, but every change should be considered part of a bigger picture, a life plan, a career. Some “jobs” may seem tough or uninteresting or unprofitable. But is that “job” teaching the essential skills you need to get promoted? Do you even know? The goal should be to get a job, master it, be the best, and apply for the next job – a promotion. Then do it again. Employees are not thinking long-term. Instead, they just do the “job,” without aspiring to the next move. A “job” is about the moment. A “career” is about long-term success. Spoiler alert: Success is in your hands, if you think about having a career, not just holding a job.
  5. Woody Allen said, “Showing up is 80% of life….” This is true: You can’t get a job without showing up (on time every day), but just showing up does not merit a raise. Many have unrealistic expectations on their wages and number of working hours. Most businesses require 40 hours of work. Most businesses offer pay increases based on merit, which means it was earned through output, not appearance. Spoiler alert: Want to make more money? Work harder and smarter than others, and you will be rewarded in the pay envelope!

Many have started out in menial roles but, because of their commitment, discipline and focus on the long-term career regardless of the work environment, made it to CEO. There is no magic formula; it takes commitment. My colleagues agree too few people understand the little things such as looking for opportunity, having commitment, managing your personal life and having a life and career plan. Working hard and smart are essential for success. Equally, too many go through the motions and can’t quite understand why they never get “a break.”

Many of us are people who need people. Hopefully, some will read this and understand that, if taken to heart, they could become the luckiest in the world.

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Peter Bigelow
is president and CEO of IMI Inc.; pbigelow@imipcb.com. His column appears monthly.