Employers Want Partners, Not Lap Dogs

Relationships – they’re the fodder for epic novels, blockbuster movies, psychological research and trashy reality TV. I think we can all agree that relationships inevitably change with the passage of time, and the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of each involved party adapt to fit those changes. And relationships come in many colors and sizes; the relationship between mother and son differs from that of brother and sister.

Credit: trianglehr.co.uk

Credit: trianglehr.co.uk

But most alarming is just how quickly these different relationship genres have evolved with each passing generation. What’s problematic is treating your 25-year-old son like a 6-year-old child or treating your parent like a dinosaur who’s out of touch with reality. Lack of congruency and adaptability when it comes to relationships can pose a huge problem, and that appears to be what’s going on between most employers and their employees. Too many people view the relationships with their bosses like they still live in the twentieth century – fear-driven and duty-bound. They do as they’re told and collect their paycheck at the end of the week without question.

Today, employers are looking for people who are engaged in their roles, make innovative contributions to the vision and mission of the company, and ultimately, surpass expectations. They value communication and honesty. Think about your most cherished relationships – they’re not the ones where everything is always peachy. The best relationships have hiccups, and it’s those challenging times that, in the long run, strengthen them. Contrary to popular belief, that depth can be achieved with employers; it’s just a matter of taking the right approach.

MAKE YOUR WORK RELATIONSHIP A TWO-WAY STREET

 

Stop seeing him as your boss. Don’t look at your employer as an adversary; view him as a partner. I always tell my candidates that they should think of an interview as a business meeting rather than an interrogation. Both parties are coming together to find out if they make a good match: an employer wants a person who can solve his problem (an open gap within his ranks) and a candidate hopes to find a company culture and role that fits his personality and qualifications. It should be a two-way street, and, ideally, everyone has the same goal.

Get informed. Know what the expectations are before getting into a new relationship. Your job description, a legal document that lists your duties, responsibilities, and outcomes, as well as the company vision and mission, should be your guide. It should be a means to set goals for yourself and monitor your progress. Make sure you’re an active participant during employee reviews and can back up your work with quantifiable examples of how you contributed. More importantly, keep a constant dialogue going – ask how you’re doing, what you can do better, and how you can win that promotion.

A person I recently placed was found to have a lot more value to a company than the interview process led on. He was thrilled to start the new gig and wanted to quit his old job as soon as he heard the good news. I suggested that he request a performance review to check in with his current boss. He brought his job description with him and gave himself low scores, scores that didn’t reflect his true caliber of work. The hiring manager realized the mistake on the part of the company and immediately committed to correcting the oversight. They elicited his help in training a person to assume the non-described role, which was a huge surprise to the candidate. Bottom line is, the boss isn’t always right. Like every healthy relationship, it’s ok to voice your opinion or point out discrepancies.

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