The CEO of one

A changing world
It is a truism to say that companies no longer offer jobs for life. They themselves now have shorter lifespans, with John Hagel at Deloitte Centre for the Edge reporting that the life of a company in the S&P 500 is now around 15 years (as opposed to 75 years in 1937).
In the past, employer paternalism valued and rewarded loyalty and length of service with promotion, (sometimes beyond capability). We are now in a far more entrepreneurial environment in which each of us is responsible for our own career. In other words each of us is now a “CEOs of one” with all the attendant responsibilities.
By the same token, organisations cannot assume that their employees are “lifers”. In order to retain the people they want to keep (note the word choice), they must work to ensure that those people want to stay; not simply by way of an excellent pay package.
In this entrepreneurial environment, the nature of the work contract has changed. There are far greater levels of short-term contract work where individuals sell services, perhaps to several employers at the same time. Most employees will have a far greater number of jobs over their working life. (Research indicates that the average Generation Y employee will have as many as ten jobs by the age of 38).

Keys to employee success

  • In order to be successful in this environment, employees will need to:
  • Exhibit the integrity and authenticity that engenders the basic “Like and Trust” that makes you a memorable and valued colleague.
  • Be a good person to work with. No matter how good a technician you are, people prefer to work with colleagues who have a sense of humour and are supportive. (Think attitude not aptitude…).
  • Be realistic about your capabilities and look constantly for development opportunities that will help you work two levels up from your current role.
  • Don’t confuse movement with progress. It is invariably results that count not activity: outputs not inputs.
  • Develop and nurture your relationships both within your organisation and more importantly outside it. You next role will almost certainly come to you via your network and not by applying for an advertised vacancy.

Keys to employer success

Given that most organisations do not have all the talent that they want (or need in some cases), employers will need to put their people first and move away from old-style company-above-all thinking. That means:

  • Creating a cultural and physical environment, which is attractive as well as professional and fit for purpose.
  • Encouraging each employee to take responsibility, not only for the results they produce, but also for their own development (recognising that their path may take them elsewhere).
  • Developing each person as far as they can (or want to) go by building a mentoring- and coaching-led leadership approach.
  • Celebrating success and acknowledging contributions. A simple “thank you” carries huge weight.
  • Not cutting ties with exiting employees. If they are people you regret losing, learn why they feel a need to leave and consider what you could have done to keep them. Be willing to welcome them back if they ask to return and help them to leave as ambassadors, not litigants.

By Stephen Newton