By JLP | April 14, 2008
I am sitting at my desk at work right now, clearly not engaged in productive activity for my employer. I don’t have any pressing deadlines, but there are certainly customers I could be calling, things I could be processing ahead of time, and skills I could be learning that would help me do my job better.
Instead I’m writing this.
I have a friend who really busts his hump all day long every day for his employer. He just got this new sales job, so he’s really trying to impress. He’s constantly reaching out to refereral sources. He sets up at least 1 meeting a day with a potential client. He’s learning quickly, he’s always polite and helpful, and he’s already initiated over 20 new deals in 6 weeks – they expected him to do 10 in his first 90 days.
Interestingly, this friend told me he was thinking of strategically slowing it down, in order to avoid setting the bar to high with his new employer. But in reality I know he won’t do that; he takes pride in his reputation, which is clearly tied to his production at work. That’s the beauty (and scariness, to me) of sales.
I just read the following article by Ben Stein on Yahoo! Finance: Want To Survive the Recession? Work it Out. Ben uses some personal anecdotes to point out that many American workers (specifically young ones) just don’t care about doing their jobs well. He asserts that despite the idea of workers begging for jobs that the media perpetuates, in reality it’s employers that are begging for qualified workers.
Why? Well, because many of us have never had to struggle at work. Those in my generation – myself included – have never faced a tough (or nonexistant) job market, a deep recession, or even a job loss. On top of that, many if not most jobs today are such that it’s easy to slide by without really trying your best or working your hardest. No one will notice if you’re online shopping instead of working on that power point for an hour or two. Sure you may only get “meets expectations” at your next review as opposed to “exceeds expectations,” but that is likely the extent of the consequences.
The difficult thing for all involved is that some of the best workers aren’t even noticed by their employers in certain industries. Secretaries are often more vital to the company and to the client relationship than the highly paid people they support, in my experience. But they seldom get the bonuses, the glory, even the thanks. Customer service reps aren’t going to get paid more or even recognized for being polite to you on the phone. Only if you are physically producing something might you get recognized for finishing ahead of schedule; or if you are selling something your boss will notice if you exceed your quota.
Ben closes with a quote that I’d like to echo: “I wish every worker in America had to be a freelancer at selling or writing or painting or carpentry or computer repair or law or something for two years. I wish Americans could have a period in their lives when they only got paid for what they sold and produced. It would do this country world of good.”
I know it would do me a world of good; what about you?
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