How to inspire corporate confidence

By Julie Rains on 7 August 2007 (Updated 19 August 2007) 2 comments
Photo: Damek

A recruiter friend once told me that working at one employer for more than 15 years was a red flag to his client companies. “A red flag for what?” you might wonder. At best, the long-standing employee is seen as unwilling to make a move; at worst, a loyal employee is seen as unable to make a move. You can build confidence in your capabilities if you understand that, from your senior manager's perspective, there are two kinds of people.

There are: 1) those who pursue, embrace, and thrive on change (and deliver great value in the process) and 2) those who avoid and resist change (and prevent the company from adapting to new circumstances).

The change-happy are often considered the winners of today’s corporate culture. They are wooed by employers, promoted as company saviors, and make alterations to strategic direction and day-to-day operations as quickly as possible.

In the change-monger’s ideal world,

  • Vendors finally understand quality standards and stick to delivery schedules;
  • front-line staff are now knowledgeable and able to make independent decisions;
  • communication channels receive timely input from all stakeholders and speed along, rather than slow down, decisions;
  • information systems provide visibility with key information without weighing down decision-makers with unimportant details.

And as a result,

  • throughput times and inventory flow accelerate;
  • sales and profits increase; and
  • customers, employees, and shareholders are very happy.

Then the change-master moves on to a different company, typically in a higher paid position.

The left-behind employees (perhaps you, one of the loyal souls who keep things going and who may have recommended the improvements all along) often don’t command such respect. You, like those who thrive on constant movement, may have worthy career ambitions, incredible flexibility, and fresh ideas; however:

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  • you’ve recently experienced significant disruption in your life and, for right now, seek sameness (you may have just created a stability plan per Justin Ryan’s guidance);
  • you grasp that too-frequent or ill-considered changes make a company seem more like a chameleon than a market leader;
  • you don’t want to disturb your professional life, which will often disrupt your personal life.

If you decide to stay put at least for now, you can still show that you are eager, willing, and highly capable of tackling new challenges and producing significant results -- without ever changing employers.

Here are a few ways how:

Keep learning new information. Attend the seminars and workshops recommended on your professional development plan (if you don’t have one, make one yourself); take a class at your community college (traditional or online); read a book from the best-selling list.

Become an expert in your industry or discipline. Read trade periodicals, visit vendors or listen in on meetings when they visit the office; go to professional conferences; earn professional designations; make presentations to groups with an interest in your field.

Continually expand your skill base. Learn a new software package through self-study, help from a friend, or a class; offer your services for special projects (sponsored by your company, a non-profit group, or another organization) to strengthen your planning, organizational, networking, and/or leadership skills.

Try out new ideas. You may be able to make changes to your daily activities without any corporate approvals. Even small improvements, made consistently over time, can keep your habits up-to-date and work results stellar.

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Sunny

My husband and I have been talking about this in the past few days. He has a job that he loves and could see himself staying in the same company for a long time, but doesn't want to stagnate and loose his employability there. Especially since the average job lasts 2 1/2 year now.

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Guest

In my position I actually have a new job every 2-3 years and I've been here for almost 8. Working at the same company does not always mean working at the same job.

Unfortunately, todays recruiters are often short-sighted around such things. The concept of learning and growing within a company rather then bouncing from company to company seems dead.