Good = Bad
There is a race to be good these days. Millenials were taught that if we do our job, meaning, we showed up for school, got good enough grades to go to college, graduate (doesn’t really matter in how many years), we would get a good job. That job would be what we were looking for when we got into college and it would pay well, as long as we continued on this path of being a good worker. We continue to do well and the raises and promotions would come as a result. That is what I was taught over and over again throughout all of those stages, until I did graduate and I did not have a good job and I did everything that I was supposed to do.
The reason why I didn’t have an offer with the company of my dreams was because I didn’t really have a company of my dreams in the first place, but even if I did, I would have expected since I did a good job and got my degree I should be able to apply and they’ll hire me. They need me right?!
Wrong, very wrong.
Stop Doing a Good Job
This message of “do a good job” is not enough to stand out. Just because you show up on time, leave a few minutes later, put in a few extra hours (unpaid) every week, doesn’t mean you should be promoted, given a pat on the back, a raise, or even more important, still have a job when the company starts laying people off. Sad part is, if you are a hard worker and even if you do a 10% better job than the guy that has been at the company 3 years less than you, who do you think they’ll lay off first?
You have been there longer, making more money. The 10% more production and extra time you put in doesn’t mean much at that point.
In this new world of non-labor style work, we need to be irreplaceable, remarkable, and not just good. We can’t even be better than the guy next to us.
Faster than the Bear?
The old metaphor: I don’t need to be faster than the bear, I just need to be faster than the guy next to me. Doesn’t work anymore.
If you want to make sure your name is the first one brought up any time a new higher role comes available you need to stand out. Being good doesn’t cut it.
Yes, you need to do good work. You need to show up early, leave a little late, and do good work, but that’s what everyone else does. That is only the foundation.
You Are an Artist. Act Like One
The issue is I can’t tell you exactly what to do to be different. That is what you need to figure out on your own. Being an intrapreneur is a lot like being an artist. I know that sounds like a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. An artist sees things differently than what other people see. They can create a beautiful painting of a sunset scene with a city skyline, from the inside of a windowless art studio. Almost creating something from nothing. An artist doesn’t care that people think they are different. They know that they are different and they like it that way, because they know the work they put out is exactly the way they want it.
If you are a bad artist, no one will buy your stuff. That is equivalent to being different at work without having the foundation of hard work to accompany it. If you are a good artist, you will create a following. People will anxiously wait for your next piece to come out, your next painting, your next book, your next play. They will wait, purely based on the work that you have put out before. It was beautiful, different and unlike anything they’ve ever seen.
The way you become indespensible at work, is you have to be more like an artist than the factory worker.
Showing up on time, working late, doing your job, doing some extra credit is all good, but when everyone else is good, good equals bad.
A large local company here in Kansas was running into some financial troubles and it was time to start laying people off. They went straight for the tenured employees first. They were the highest paid regardless of the work they did. Did they lay off the people that make the decisions? No. Did they lay off the ones that have brought them the new ideas, and the direction for growth that made them the large company of who they were today? No. Those people moved their way up by being better than good, they were the difference makers and if they were smart, they are not working for the company before this had to happen.
If you are a good employee, sure your time might come. The raise will show up, the employee of the month will be granted to you, but why wait? Be an artist. Be different