Engaging Voices - Judith Bardwick


Next in the Engaging Voices project, I'm thrilled to present consultant and author Dr. Judith Bardwick, whose latest book, One Foot Out the Door, has been described as "required reading for HR strategists."

Judy is passionate about the topics of commitment and engagement. She has pointed out that the key to good management, and indeed business success, is the relationship between the employee and his or her boss.

In the following piece (which is excerpted from a longer essay that will appear soon at her blog), Judy's aim is to emphasize perspective. She says: "Never forget the media focus on what’s terrible and rarely report good news. Naturally this strengthens a half-empty, pessimistic view. Even now when the headlines scream that unemployment is rising toward 10 percent, it’s critical to remember that also means 90 percent of the population are employed. The bottle is at least somewhat full."

The End Is Not Near by Dr. Judith Bardwick

This blog is for people wanting and needing to work who see only dim possibilities to earn money doing the work they had been doing. Some people will have the delightful surprise of landing just that opportunity, but most probably won’t. For the latter group I’d like to say things are probably not as bad as you think, especially if you are willing to change.

Broaden your horizons as to the kind of work you do or the customers you could serve. In other words, in addition to looking for opportunities doing the work you have already done, imagine other occupations where, with some training and experience, your skills could be valuable. As I tried to imagine myself in this situation I remembered three legal cases I worked on a decade ago when my specialty was career plateauing, or the end of promotions. That expertise was relevant in three age discrimination cases and to my surprise, I served as a consultant to the defense in those instances.

Imagine who might need what you offer whom you’ve never thought of as a customer.

A close friend is an independent contractor with special skills in Information Technology as applied to office work. He’s always depended on word of mouth to find clients but lately the pipeline has been empty.

He and I recently got to brain storming about what he might do: Who needs your skills and either doesn’t know it or doesn’t know how to find you? Who are potential customers?

We started to create a list: start-ups who face mountains of tasks from the git-go, doctor’s offices in which records should be computerized, long-established small and medium local businesses who use antiquated processes; organizations that don’t have training departments but need employees trained in up-to-date IT processes…the list is limited only by your imagination.

How can he learn who might be appropriate candidates for his offerings? Let’s start with:
- The local Chamber of Commerce
- Lawyers whose practice includes incorporating start-ups
- Local professional societies and their newsletters
- Schools, especially business schools and community colleges
- Online networks, alumni associations, friends, family, colleagues…

Since there are only six degrees of separation between you and someone you want to contact, no one is out of range.

Get help. Many people find it very hard to acknowledge to themselves much less to other people, that they can’t manage their problems on their own. If you find yourself stymied and don’t know what to do, or you’re paralyzed by fear of rejection and defeat, or confused by the responses you are receiving in your search, reach out.

At some point or another, the majority of people have had the experience of having reached the end of their rope without any idea of what to do next or why that’s been happening. That’s when you need help and there’s lots of it around if only you look for it. All of these sources of help will get you a more balanced perspective, new ideas, less extreme emotional responses, and active support. There’s everything to gain – and nothing to lose.

This paragraph is for everyone: those who are working and those who wish they were. While there are still many organizations in which people are employed for all or most of their working life, a very essential change since the 1980s has been the disappearance of absolute job security. This means that essentially everyone is a business with one employee. Therefore, everyone needs to remember that no one cares as much as you do about what happens to you.

Creating your future is your job. Best of luck!

[Copyright 2009 by Dr. Judith Bardwick. All Rights Reserved]

Posted by Terrence Seamon, February 6, 2009

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