Reality Check: Joe’s New Job

Joe’s employment history could be described as “spotty.” It’s not that he can’t find work; Joe is able to get hired relatively easily. He’s articulate and presents himself in an interview as being pleasant and intelligent.

However, Joe has developed a pattern of starting jobs and then soon leaving. Here’s how it goes.

Joe starts a new job with enthusiasm. Then something happens—Joe begins to perceive that people aren’t doing their jobs properly. His co-workers don’t do things right. The manager isn’t doing things right. Joe is certain that if he were in charge, everything would be much better. He should have the boss’s job!

With this realization comes a reduction in Joe’s enthusiasm for the job he’s actually been hired to do. Joe complains about his co-workers. Joe criticizes his manager. Joe grumbles to the customers about how badly things are run. Joe gets fired. Or laid off. Or “encouraged” to resign.

Joe wonders how all these businesses can be run so poorly!

The reality check is that oddly enough, businesses seem to be chugging along fine without Joe. Some might even say that they are better off being Joe-less. Can it be that they are not the problem?

Joe is about to start work at a new company where no one knows him. Even though he hasn’t yet begun, Joe has already detected some things that aren’t being done “right” (that is, not the way that he would do them.)

Joe may be correct. It’s unlikely that everything is done perfectly. Opportunities for improvement exist most everywhere.

However, if Joe wants to keep this job, he will need to change what he’s been doing. Here are a few suggestions for Joe as he gets started.

  1. Remember why you work. Most of us work for money. Of course, there are other benefits to working, too. You may be working on something that you believe in. Work may satisfy your esteem needs. It may satisfy your need to feel that you belong to a group. Work may even be fun! There are many reasons to work.

However, fundamentally, Joe is working to get money to survive. Every day, every hour that he is paid is fulfilling that need. And as long as Joe is in the workplace, getting paid, he owes his employer his best effort at whatever he has been hired to do.

  1. Think about how you like people to interact with you. If you were the business owner, would you like to hear an employee complaining continuously? Or grumbling about you to your customers? As a worker, do you like to be criticized by your co-workers? I’m guessing you don’t. So, do you think that your boss or fellow employees enjoy being on the receiving end of those comments from you? Before you criticize or complain, ask yourself, “Would I like it if someone said this to me?”
  2. One difference between being a “team player” versus a “difficult person” is the approach you choose. There’s no special talent needed to point out problems. Offering solutions, on the other hand, is a valuable skill. When you see an opportunity for improvement, come to your boss with a possible solution rather than just a complaint.

A valuable employee sees opportunities to improve the business, follows through, and becomes a significant contributor.

What would you suggest Joe do to become a valuable employee?

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