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Relevance at work

November 24, 2013

How has everyone been this few months? I’m sure a lot has happened. Nowadays it’s easy to keep up with your friends. You have facebook. They’ll tell you what happened at work, what they had for lunch, if they get upset with anybody, things like that. Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. I’d like to write about something totally different.

How do you establish your relevance at work? A regular person would struggle to understand the question. Not out of stupidity or ignorance, but because usually that just never happens. In most instances, your position in the organisation doesn’t really matter. You’d have a role to play. You have your KPIs to meet. You come to work, do your stuff and leave. If you perform well, usually you’ll be rewarded. You get promoted, paid your bonus, your pay gets increased. You get the picture. In short, no matter who you are, you almost inevitably are an important part of the organisation.

Having said that, let me give you this hypothetical example. Which has got no relevance to me at all. Wouldn’t want to be in the position I’m about to describe to you. Here goes. You’re a person of reasonable importance in your organisation. Well, for argument’s sake, let’s say you’re the General Manager of a specific function. For some reason unknown to you (most probably non-performance), the organisation decides to employ/appoint another person to a post which performs a role somewhat strikingly similar to your function. You’re in a position where you cannot start an action for constructive dismissal against your organisation. Why you ask? For argument’s sake let’s say you are on a very good contract (a remnant from the time when you were deemed to be performing no doubt) and there may not be a company who’d be willing to match your pay. Probably it’ll be too expensive for your current organisation to offer you a golden handshake as well.

So you stay on, probably reluctantly. But as a professional you absolutely loathe the fact that your work has been taken over by this new person and that you’re left to feed on scraps, work wise. You’ve got to deal with the stares and people sniggering away at your plight. Your relevance is substantially eroded. You notice people are not inviting you to meetings as often as they do previously, which is a clear sign of decreasing relevance. You begin to think that the world is unfair (well, since when the world ever is fair?).

As if that’s not bad enough, you notice the guy who was appointed to “take over” your function performing minor miracles and becomes the toast of the organisation. Everybody knows and respects your abilities but simply put, this new guy has outperformed you. In an effort to re-establish relevance, you try to be more “involved”. The survivor in you takes over and you seem to be more interested in matters that previously you don’t really care about, consciously or otherwise. Now, the effort of trying to get involved inevitably improves you as a person and an employee.

In this situation, how you respond would inevitably determine your path. You may choose to become a recluse, take your pay and let life go on. Or more importantly, you may decide to rise to the challenge and perform the assignments given to you well, which is a measure of redeeming yourself. Although it must be said that it takes a lot of courage and will power to go for the latter course of action. It is very easy to be demoralised and be bitter at the fate that has befallen you. As they say, problems and issues will be the measure of a man (or something like that). It’s inevitably how you rise from the ashes.

One more important point. In situations like these, there will be a chance to be introspective. You may begin to look inside yourself and identify issues or character traits which may have caused the situation to be as it is currently. Close inspection of these areas may reveal opportunities for improvement. In any event it is up to you to make the change, which inevitably is necessary.

Well, that’s that. On a happier note, last night my company had it’s Appreciation Dinner (it’s not an Annual Dinner. The last one was in 2011). The theme was Oscar night or something like that. So I rented a dinner jacket, complete with the pleated shirt, bowtie and sash. Thank god I wasn’t overdressed. As an ardent James Bond fan (fanatic is more like it actually) I was looking forward to dressing up. And so I did. The outcome was:

Not bad eh?

Not bad eh?



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