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Does it Pay to Be the Best When Organizations Don’t Value You?

Not everyone wants to be the best at their jobs–many people think that ambition and skills would be for suckers in our age, given organizations today.  Is it true that today it doesn’t pay to be the best and the brightest in the workforce?

I found out that there are a good number of people out there today who don’t think that excelling in organizations is the intelligent thing to do.

I recently taught a class about the Myers-Briggs Personality Type (MBTI).  It’s always really fun because 98% of the class find MBTI fascinating, entertaining, and extremely useful.  It gives them huge aha’s about themselves, co-workers and family.    It’s highly successful because it’s about their favorite subject–themselves.  We just can’t get enough of focusing on the most important person in the world we know–us.

Achievement?!  I’d Rather Just Win the Lottery

That said, I can assure you that some people don’t like our MBTI class and would have loved to have been anywhere else.  Towards the end of the session, one of my training partners was wrapping up the class and I was sitting at a table in the back of the room with a couple of the participants who were into a conversation.

“I’d just give anything,” one said, “if I could JUST WIN THE LOTTERY!”

“What would you do?” the other conversationalist asked.

“Well let me tell you what I’d do immediately.  I’d find the executive I most dislike, go into their office, and DROP MY PANTS.”

“Wow!” was the surprised response.

“Yeah, and when they said I was fired, I’d say, you can’t fire me  because I quit!  I just won the lottery!”

Our class emphasis on the need to grow and succeed was obviously lost on this person.  Their sense of dress etiquette was also probably deficient.

Why People Quit on the Job While Still Working

We don’t meet many people like this participant who just wanted out of the whole world of work–the only reason for them to be tied to a job is their fear of starvation.  However, we do meet a fair amount of people who have a difficult time maintaining any real attachment to their job.

There has never been a time when people have had more mixed feelings about their careers.  People typically have about 12 job changes in a lifetime and their tenure in each job is about 4.3 years.  That’s a lot of churn.

It’s easy to see how people become cynical. They typically have all hands meetings with a rosy picture of how the company is  doing and a rousing motivational speech to ask you to give your all to make the company a worldwide force.  Companies are acquired and the goal is often to reduce expensive headcount and you may be on the wrong list of the laid off, booted to the curb.

Also people quit their present job while looking through their binoculars for their next opportunity. With low unemployment people can do that, sometimes quite easily. People begin to grow weary in a job environment where they feel stuck with a team that has no clear mandate and a leadership that’s holding them back.  They’re emotionally shut down while looking for their next gig.

Being the Best as a Free Agent in the Workplace

Anyone who follows sports understands star free agents.  Kevin Durant, NBA professional basketball player, was the core component of the Golden State Warrior’s winning season that got them to the NBA finals.  Durant has the capability of winning a game within the last few seconds.  When he was hurt, his team was hurt even worse.

As a star free agent, Kevin Durant could go to practically any team.  He, not they, chose the Brooklyn Nets where he will play the 2020 season.  The reason Durant is a star free agent is that all he ever wanted to be from earliest childhood was a great basketball player.  He had great natural talent, but his tenacity has taken him to where he is today.

The people who have the best careers in the 21st Century see themselves as star free agents in the workplace.  The star free agent says that not only is the 30 year job with the gold watch at the end no longer a reality–but also good riddance to it!  In today’s world, you don’t have lifetime employment, but you have huge opportunity that didn’t exist before.  In today’s world you can either become obsolete at 50, or you can be a star free agent–a hot item with big value in the workplace.

It always amazes me that people who don’t like organizations think they could possibly do well in organizations.  I have always loved organizations from early childhood because they create opportunity and are the tip of the spear when it comes to human progress.  Hate Apple?  Give up your iPhone.  Think Facebook is the pits–give up the constant social network we have today.  Don’t like Amazon?  Gone are your free deliveries for tomorrow.

I can’t wait to see what organizations of tomorrow will invent and provide us.  I want the skills that will put me at the table of organizations in the next years.  I value being a free agent with huge possibilities.

So how do you become a star free agent in business?

  1. Develop Your Skills.  Become better than you ever thought you’d be.   You can’t be successful tomorrow with the skills you have today.  What do you need to know and to be 5 years from now to succeed?
  2. Become a Key Component in  Making your Team and Organization a Success.   If you don’t know what it will take for your organization to be a success and find out your contribution, neither you nor your organization will succeed.
  3. Develop Metrics on How You’re Doing.  In today’s world your boss’ performance evaluation could be useless to you.  Do a 360-degree assessment and put some numbers around how you’re doing by getting the whole picture of your performance from your boss, your peers, and from your direct reports.

  1. Get a Coach to Help You Deliver Your Best Talent.  As a star performing free agent in organizations, the better and more skilled you are, the more you’ll need coaching.  Your coaches will make the difference in your career.  Most of your competitors will be figuring out their own playbooks.  With the right coach you’ll have a huge advantage

As you move forward in your career, the rule the military uses is always the case–you go up or out.  In the military if you get to a specific rank and are not promoted, you’ll be asked to retire.  The same is informally true in business.  If you stay at the same place for a certain amount of time, it will become more difficult to maintain your career where you are.  You’ll be looking for less appealing jobs all the time.  You’ll be looking for some opportunity instead of opportunity looking for you.

Delta Associates offers a free opportunity for a career analysis, either personally for you or for your team.  Contact us.  We want to help.  Carol Kallendorf, PhD., Jack Speer –

Austin, Texas

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Carol Kallendorf, PhD. | (512) 417-9756 

Jack Speer | (512) 417-9428


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