It felt good to share my thoughts the other day on what I really wanted to say to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world. In this “Eleventh Hour” of our world filled with scary things like war, terrorism, genocide and corruption, I don’t want to silence my true voice anymore. I want to make use of my life for things that matter and that have a real, measurable impact. In that spirit, here is what I have to share with employees of large corporations everywhere:
I have met you in meeting rooms, hallways, on conference calls and on the internet. You work for large corporations which you detest. You arrive at your cubicle every morning with a vaguely sick feeling in your stomach and begin your day of work. You have too much to do. Co-workers left and no one replaced them, so you have inherited their job and all the work that went with it.
You pulled me aside after a training class or offsite meeting and shared your thoughts about your job. “I hate my manager. They do nothing but issue edicts from behind the closed door of their office, then take credit for everything I do.” “I am so stressed out from all this work that it is impacting my health and my relationships at home.”
I did what I could to comfort you and give you hope. But since I am helpless to change the overall state of corporations, here is my best advice:
- Don’t pretend your job is secure. I know of no job in any industry today that is safe from market forces or lame managers. You read stories in the paper every day about well-established companies (some that are making huge profits) that are cutting back tens of thousands of employees to “stay competitive.” But you still act angry and surprised when you get pulled into your manager’s office with the HR rep and are told that your job is eliminated. We are all self-employed, and if you don’t get that fast, you are in for a rude awakening.
- Make a long-term life plan. You get so caught up with surviving each day that you have no idea what would make you happy down the road. But it is this long-term plan that is going to give focus and structure to decisions you make every day on your job, and guide decisions about the next step in your career. Get clear on what kind of work energizes you, the kind of people that you want to be around, where you want to live, how much money you want to make and how much time you want to spend at your job.
- Pay attention to who you go to lunch with. It is theraputic to bitch and complain about your job once you are out of earshot of your manager or coworkers. But are you spending all your time with people who just complain and never do anything to change their life? You are what you eat, say and who you hang out with. If you want your life to grow in a positive direction, surround yourself with people who are eager to learn, problem-solve and support each other. I don’t mean you can never complain – just don’t get stuck whining all the time.
- Always have a Plan B, C and D. Even if you have a great job right now, you should always know what your next step is if everything blows up tomorrow. Network with people inside and outside your company to know what kinds of jobs or businesses you are interested in. It is perfectly ethical to scan job boards even if you are happily employed (just don’t do it all day on work time – a little tacky). I know how busy you are. That is not a viable excuse when it comes to something as important as securing your livelihood.
- Don’t think of your job as a paycheck, think of it as a learning opportunity. Learning should be the primary thing on your mind at all times. You can be in a hellacious job situation and still learn from it. I was once on a great team inside a company that had questionable management. When our recommendations were shot down for reasons we knew were wrong, we would discuss the implications and try to guess the outcome. Most times we were exactly right, and would learn a lot from the experience. If you have taken the time to create a long term life plan, you should be clear what things you need to learn to get there.
- Take responsibility for yourself. Blaming “The Man,” “The Company” or your manager for your unhappiness is a cop out. You choose to be in your current situation, otherwise you would have changed it. So don’t give away your power. If you are miserable, follow the advice above and move yourself to a better place.
I know that not all of you will choose to quit your job and go to work for yourself. Entrepreneurism is not for everyone. Whatever you decide to do, work doesn’t have to be miserable. It is up to you!
[…] proof, check out these fantastic posts from 2006. First, an open letter to the C-level folks. Then, an open letter to employees. For anyone who is feeling low about their corporate existence, these two manifestos offer sage […]
[…] It can be very, very scary for your spouse to think about losing his perception of stability (you know where I stand with the notion that jobs are more stable than self employment). Don’t get angry if he […]
[…] favorite authors is Pam Slim. I’ve been reading Pam for almost 3 years, ever since she wrote an open letter to employees across the world. She was nice enough to contact me back when I was the community manager at a project called 100 […]
The ‘URGENT’ definition
– Urgent is if you are a business development director for a US bank, and you just realized your competition has been financing Mexican beach front property for the last 12 months – Urgent is if you are a mortgage
Kinder, Happier, Gentler, More Productive (manifesto, thatis)
So, another manifesto for the Festivus season. Little less harsh than Michael Wades (reffed earlier in the week). Pamela Slim is, I think, probably a little more holistic in her approach than Michael, but theres some overlap. Plus, I t…
Pamela, this is the 3rd post I have read of yours today and commented on. You have a real gift for saying it like it is.
Still Not Convinced?
Now, have you decided to flee from your cubicle?
Do you want to set up your own business now so that you become master of your destiny instead of allowing some fatcat stripe suited boss you do not even really like or know carry on making your life̵…
Excellent article. I absolutly agree with her. In Hindu religion’s holy book “The Geeta” says “You do your work but detech your self from the actual work being performed. What you are doing was done by someone else and will be done by someone in future. Nothing is static.
I recently did a post Common Sense view of Customers and Competition ala Microsoft and IBM : http://nitnblogs.blogspot.com/2006/05/common-sense-view-of-customers-and.html
While I agree with your points, I think the ones I mention are also useful common sensical things to do if you want to progress in your respective careers.
James Shore and organizational change
Carta abierta a los empleados de grandes empresas, por Pamela Slim
Me sentó bien compartir mis pensamientos sobre lo que realmente les diría a todo tipo de directivos de grandes empresas. En esta undécima hora de nuestro mundo lleno de guerras, terrorismo, genocidio y corrupción, no quiero silenciar…
Having read both sides of your message you hit the mark! I guess everyone sees their company/manager and themselves when reading through.
I guess it’s time for me to stop writing about my ideas and put some conviction into doing something about it my way, my time.
Thanks so much for your straight talk! So many people act like things will change at any moment. And so much time wasted in whining. My job isn’t great and it’s not my life’s work, so I try to focus on what’s important in my life. I’m sorry for those who don’t have anything outside of work because frankly, a lot of the time what’s inside work is unimportant to say the least.
I have met you in meeting rooms, hallways, on conference calls an
Well said! The only thing I would change is that it’s not just cube dwellers in large corporations. I’m in a very small company, but many of the same issues are here as well.
What every Chief ___ Officer should know
Open Letter to Corporate Employees
Pam Slim posted a follow-up to her Open Letter to CXOs, titled Open Letter to Employees Across the Corporate World.
Dont pretend your job is secure.
Make a long-term life plan.
Pay attention to who you go to lunch with.
Always have …
You are so right on target with these, Pamiela. It’s important to look at where we place our faith. Is it on the corporation we work for? Is it on the economy or our spouse? When we have faith in a higher power, a divine essence alive within each of us and all around us, we can stop being dependent on others to provide our good. Our security doesn’t lie outside of ourselves. And oh yes, our jobs are one of the greatest places to learn lessons and to learn how to love unconditionally. Keep up the good work, Pamela!