Monday, June 17, 2013
I think there are 2 kinds of things. One of the classes of things is represented by a big circle which includes all things that can be diagramed using a Venn diagram, and the other is a small circle for those things that cannot.
I have been reflecting on the reasons I change jobs. I hadn't realized it at the time, or at least not exactly, but there seems to be a seminal event that occurs where I experience something, learn something, someone says something, or some sort of event that serves as the seed for an epiphany. This enlightenment event serves as the key to my realization that things are not going right, and I need to make a change. Looking back, I can see them clearly now. At A there was such an event, backed up by many events of a similar nature, that put me into an Orientation of Discontent. Once that cat was out of the bag I was actively looking for something new to do, even though I was content where I was and my employer was content having me where I was. 21 years with that employer worked both for and against my staying, as my history was long and storied, and my position within the company was (mostly) secure.
At B I can name the exact second where this event occurred, the circumstances, and exactly why I felt that way. I don't believe my facial expression gave me away, but I realized it was happening at the time, and I knew it for what it was. I suppose the 4.5 years with B suggested that I had fewer ties, but actually I think the opposite was true. My exposure was broader, my contacts were of a different sort, and what I was able to do as an employee there seemed more than at A, in retrospect. My contribution was valued, at least as a co-worker, and as a person of a different sort of perspective than the rest of the crowd. My difference there was an asset, not a liability.
Study after study shows that Job Satisfaction is the most important thing for employees. It is not money. It is not perks. It is not commute time, or office space, or free coffee, or health insurance. It is feeling that your work is appreciated and your contribution is recognized. Does your boss listen to you? Are you satisfied with your role in the company? Does the companies' direction align with your personal values and objectives? Do you have a future with this company? Things like that. The trouble with investing 21 years with one company is that you form some pretty strong opinions about how companies work, how they should work, and what your proper role within a company should be. Not only that but you get access to many other companies, and employees in these other companies, and you get a sense of what works and what doesn't work.
Another important part is the value of sticking with a job long enough to reap whatever benefits may come from being a Valued Employee. A short term employee isn't as valuable as a long term employee, and time in service cannot be replaced by education, experience outside the company, or any other non-service metric. It is often said that 80% of participation in an activity is just showing up, and this is exactly what I am talking about here. Sticking with the program through the thick and thin of normal company life is really important. Times are good, times are bad, and we know that we can count on YOU through it all means a lot to everyone, both co-workers and employers. Co-workers look to you for guidance, and employers look to you for leadership and support.
So, I have been fighting not to have a similar sort of Epiphany Experience at W. I knew that the commute would be an issue. I knew that the smallness of the company would be different than B, but I thought it would be similar to A. It has turned out to be very different than A, and I am having a hard time getting used to the difference. The personalities are different, and there are fewer of them. The structure is hierarchal, and the King at the top is autocratic and entrenched. I was hired to take some of the sales burden off his shoulders and to provide structure to the sales process. And I was hired specifically to become the product manager for our cellulosic ethanol bale processing line, seen as the highest value system-style product the company produces.
But what has happened?