Thanks for your post. i was just trying to make a point about the past posts that loyalty (not blind loyalty) is equally important to the employer / employee relationship. I think they are co-dependent.
EEMOM, I disagree about your point that there is no room for loyalty. Throughout my carreer, I was loyal to my team and my bosses until they established that my trust was unwarrented. If you trust no one, then no one will trust you. The real issue we are trying to address is broadening your perceptions beyond just the technical side of your work.
I got into engineering because I loved everything about it and spent many happy years working with advanced technology in many different applications. But engineering is a business and it involves many people who each have their own perspectives about their jobs and what is both good and bad about the work environment.
If the work is exciting and the people involved in the project are all working to a common purpose, then incredible things can happen that make you so fullfilled that you remember why you went into engineering in the first place. Unfortunately, there are individuals who have other career goals and who do not care about who they destroy to reach their goals.
You stay in engineering because the same situation exists in all types of work and in all businesses. If you get lucky, then you get a situation akin to one big happy family. If you get really unlucky, you get involved with the job from hades. Each company or office has its own good and bad point.
What I am trying to emphasize is that as an engineer, you have to look at the BIG picture every time you accept an assignment or make a job change. As in every decision you will make in your life, do your homework and try to understand what you are getting yourself into before you decide what to do next. The best way to stay out of a bad situation is to communicate with someone already on the inside. While their experiences will be different from yours, it gives you an invaluable data point about the people you will be working with.
I worked at three different companies in my career. I was at the first one for over 11 years, the second lasted only 11 months, and my third lasted for nearly 18 years before I was forced to stop. As you might guess, company number 2 was a really bad place to work. I did not do as much home work on that company as I should have and spent a very stressful year trying to find a good exit strategy.
The first and third companies were both mostly enjoyable. The offices were run mostly by engineering people who spent most of their time focusing on doing the best job they could. I had a lot of fun there, but I had reached a point in my career where my skills and interests needed a larger venue.
At my last job, I did my research on the company and carefully used my opportunities to impress the office not only with my technical skills, but with my accomodating attitude and respect for others. I actually turned down promotions that would have moved me from doing things I liked to doing a job I know I would have hated. By then, I had the experience and understanding of the company to make that choice to benefit me rather than having others put me in a position I would not have liked for the "good of the company".
So please do not get discouraged. For those of us who are technogeeks, the engineering field can be very rewarding both mentally and financially. All I ask is that you broaden your perspectives a bit to enable yourself to choose wisely when you reach career decision points.
Over all, I look back on my career very fondly, inspite of some very harrowing instances of stupidity. But I know engineering was the career for me and I am convinced that I made a very positive mark in the industry. Keep your eyes open and you too can look back with that satisfied sigh and smile.
Even if one does accept that everyone serves only himself, people do form strategic alliances and partnerships. If a person blatantly disregards the interests of the partner in putting him/herself ahead, then s/he would have good reason to be paranoid. For a society to thrive, it is necessary to have some form of balance between absolute social Darwinism (with everyone trying to be king of the hill) and a cooperative society (in which the danger is one of stagnation with no motive to get ahead on one's own).
I don't believe anyone is ignorant about the fact that it is every man for himself out there. While Andrew Grove's comments give us an insight into how the executive world thinks and operates, I believe employees at large received the same message through downsizing, cost cutting measures, etc.
Again, I don't disagree that every company has to look out for its bottom line and financial health, I just believe that there has to be some sort of balance so that loyalty to the ones that have served the company well does not totally disappear.
Anna, the example of your friend really has great impact. Of course, no one is completely irreplaceable. It could have nothing to do with your job performance or even the financial health of a company. With at-will firing, the company doesn't even need to justify taking the job away. That is the harsh reality, and even having an updated resume on hand does not make dealing with the shock of the job loss (especially in the case of one held over a decade) easy -- even if severance pay and benefits continue for a while.
And back to the quote with which the original post opens: even being paranoid will not necessarily help you much when there nearly 10% unemployment rate means that there are hundreds of people applying for the same job opening. The only really practical thing everyone must do is plan in advance with an emergency fund that will cover a year (rather than the customary 3 - 6 months that had been standard) of living expenses in case of job loss.
I have to agree with eemom that it is very sad. Some companies will still pay lip service to the notion that their greatest asset is their people. But their actions often belie their words. Whether it is a setup that cuts pay directly or indirectly or a new system of micromanagement, many employees get the message that they are not valued. Of course, that makes them feel less loyal themselves and much more apt to jump ship if an opportunity comes up.
There are different levels of loyalty that a company's management must pay attention to but all of them are defined by profit goals. Since we operate in a capitalist system, it makes sense for companies to respond first to the stimulus to make money for shareholders. All of the resources at the company's disposal are considered tools in the process of attaining the profit objectives. Human resources fall within that category.
What we have is a situation where companies have come to that realization and, even if some people consider Andrew Grove's pointers to be pedestrian in some ways, I think we should take a second look at them and acknowledge the fact that he's done employees worldwide a significant service by giving them a peek into the executive suite.
He wrote the book while still chairman or CEO at Intel. For someone in that position to openly say employees should focus on their own interest, implying they need to rate corporate interests second, is the height of honesty. How many employers nowadays tell employees their interest would be safeguarded even as steps are being taken to strip them of benefits and lay them off. It may be sad but it's a reality we are at least no longer ignorant about.
First, I totally agree that everyone is responsible for their own career and life, no one owes me or you anything, and it is with hard work and perseverance that we can succeed.
Second, I think it is very sad that we all agree that there is no loyalty in business anymore and that every man is out for themselves. I agree with all the observations, I just found myself getting incredibly disheartened reading the posts.
That being said, today's business owner does not have any choice but to look out for the bottom line. That does not hold true however, for the larger companies that may downsize yet offer their top management huge bonuses. I think loyalty is very important in business, especially in small business. A company is defined by its people, they are the heart and soul, they are who the customer sees. If they truly believe that management is not looking out for them, why should they look out for the company. This may speak to why so many businesses fail today. Just sad!
In 80ties large employers attempted to build relation with their workers and came out with loyalty to the company. If an employee worked extra hour he/she could get a comp time or simply it would be reflected in yearly bonus. On personal level I think loyalty is the most important in relationship but in business loyalty does not exist. When company is going down there is no money to pay there are layoffs to the last person.
Recently I talked with one small business owner. The owner had to layoff the best worker because this worker became too expensive over the years of promotions and rewards. Company income was going down and other staff engineers could have done the task on hand.
While the six tips provide a good starting point, the key point in all of them are that ONLY YOU can control your future! In my early engineering days, I was naive enough to believe that the company or my boss would take care of me. I was extra lucky to have good leaders who educated me on the fine points of making a career in the Engineering field.
The key to surviving is to always remember to include "Whats in it for me?" in your decision space and "How can I make the team look good?" The later builds you a cadre of people who will both trust and respect you. These elements are very important during review time, and yes it is up to YOU to remind your boss of your accomplishments and how you made HIM look good.
The best way to remind yourself about your own greatness is the bucket test. Every time you think you are irreplaceable, fill a bucket with water and put your hand into the water up to your wrist. Then fast as you can, pull your hand out of the bucket and observe if you have left a hole in the water. If you do, then you are indeed irreplaceable. However, if you do not, like nearly all of us poor mortals, then you can be replaced.
The sad truth is that we can all be replaced, it is only a matter of by whom and when. So remember the boy scout motto and "Be Prepared" and you will always improve your chances of surviving whatever life throws at you.
A former colleague was stunned when she was laid off by her employer after 12 years at the company. She didn't see it coming and was totally unprepared. To the surprise of even our colleagues, she had assumed she was irreplaceable. This colleague did not even have a resume ready as she had not since joining the company applied to any other positions within or outside the corporation.
I know you think Andrew Grove's tips are so obvious that they could only be useful to fresh graduates but they are relevant even to older employees. In my opinion, each employee must be "mercenary" in their approach to their career. Gone are the days when you fully expect your employer to watch your back. The only way you can ensure your own relevance to the corporation is to regularly examine your role in that organization, scope out other areas you can be useful, offer to take on new roles or design new roles for yourself AND always be in job-hunting mode, whether for new positions within your company or elsewhere.
"Thank you for what you did yesterday is no longer enough. What have you done for me lately is the question most employers ask nowadays and you better have a good answer plus "here's what I plan to do for you next."
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.