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September 20, 2014

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A New Age of Work (Part 2)

In my previous post, I wrote about Seth Godin’s analysis of how the “take-care-of-you bargain” has failed. I also wrote about an emerging new type of company that is providing opportunities for those workers who are entrepreneurial, responsible, and able to lead. In this article, I will lay out the characteristics and skills necessary to thrive within these new companies.

Before I do that, let me state for the record that I do not have the empirical data to back up my conclusions. I do, however, have first-hand knowledge of how the leaders of these new companies think. You see, I manage one of these new companies and in addition to my personal experiences, I work closely with many like-minded leaders and I have had a chance to see how they work and what is important to them.

Be responsible. The new companies want people who are responsible and who don’t live with a “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” mentality. The employees of the new companies take responsibility for their actions, choices, careers, and contributions to the company.

I get very tired of hearing people complain about things that have happened to them, especially when, most of the time; these events are the results of their actions or inactions. Many people have a difficult time seeing the causal relationship of their actions. In his book, Today We Are Rich, Time Sanders asks a profound question. He asks you to reflect upon what you were doing or not doing when things were at their best. He asks if your previous actions or inactions could be replicated today to achieve better results. Many times we forget about the things in our lives that we were doing that contributed to our success. We need to take responsibility for both the good things and bad things in our lives.

Responsible people find their way through the clutter and find ways to contribute to themselves and those around them. The new company is looking for these kind of responsible people.

Be entrepreneurial. The new companies are not autocratic. That is, they are not organized around one entrepreneur who leverages the workers below him. That is the old factory or machine model of work and as described in my last post, is outdated and not particularly fulfilling. The new company is organized around many entrepreneurs who are responsible for finding, managing, and performing the work. These entrepreneurs need skills in marketing, business development, management, and they must be particularly skilled in the work they perform. But most importantly, they cannot be afraid to fail.

An entrepreneur’s greatest asset is the willingness to try new strategies and plans. I heard a saying the other day that fits here. The best entrepreneurs are good at failing fast. This means that they learn quickly from the things they try, then rebound and try other new things in rapid fashion. The new company is looking for these entrepreneurs.

Be open. The new companies have open systems. They allow new data and new ways of working and finding ways to implement new strategies. The employees of these companies are good open communicators. They are also great listeners because they are open to new ideas. The old firms had a culture of coveting ideas, and if you were a good idea guy, you were fast-tracked to management. The new companies still want good ideas, but equally important is the ability to collaborate and share these ideas with everyone in the company. Since these companies are entrepreneurial in nature, ideas are their lifeblood. And ideas that are developed and implemented through collaboration across multiple platforms are much more valuable than just the idea itself.

Be fun. Fun is good! Fun at work is good! The new company is looking for people who can lighten up and have fun with the work. The term “serious play” comes to mind. These new companies are as serious as their predecessors but their work style allows for a more playful and fun environment. This style is difficult for many to adjust to, because they have had it pounded into their head by society that work is work. But the new companies have found that when people are having fun at work, work is fun, productive, and profitable. One doesn’t need to look any further than Google or Zappos to see this in action.

If you are one of the people who are responsible, entrepreneurial, open and like to have fun at work, new opportunities are open to you. If you are not there yet, then you might think about opening up to these new possibilities and see where they might take you.

Until next time…

Craig

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