Getting Along in the Office

Adapting to Change

By Ruth Haag

The work climate today is much different from what it was 50 years ago. A person who was born in the early 1900s could expect to get a job and keep that same job until retirement. A person born in the mid-1900s could expect to have at least two different careers during their prime work years. It is projected that those born in the later 1900s will have three to four different careers during their prime work years.

This difference is caused by the rapid changes in workforce requirements that our current economy demands. Often the job that a person starts their work career with will not even exist after 20 years.

Life is a Chess Game

Many people faced with the loss of a job lament, “I had planned to work here until I retired!” They are caught by surprise when the employer decides to shut down a factory, or move it to another area.

These days, workers cannot look at their employers as their guaranteed protectors. It is better if workers look at their careers as a chess game. Workers must always be planning what their moves will be, when changes in their current jobs come.

Winning the Job Game

Keeping yourself flexible, and keeping aware of the business climate, allows you to make moves before you are laid off.

Looking at career moves as a game requires you to do the following:

1. Learn everything possible, to make yourself able to move on. If your company is offering training, take it. If someone on staff can teach you something, learn it. Learn how to operate all of the computer programs that your company uses. It is very important that you keep yourself as flexible as possible, in order to keep your options open.

2. Be willing to change where you live. It really is not so bad to move, but some people are unwilling. Currently, there is a significant downturn in northern manufacturing jobs, but the railroads say that they need people. The only hitch is that people need to relocate. It doesn’t make sense to stay in one place and complain that you don’t have a job, while a job is available with a move.

3. Keep aware of changes that are coming. We asked an engineer friend why he had just made a job move, when it appeared to us that he had liked his job of 10-plus years. He explained that he was asked to sit on a committee whose mission was to determine who would be laid off. Based on his committee work, he decided that it would only be a matter of time before his own position was eliminated. So, it was time for him to look for a new job.

Making Your Lemons into Lemonade

Most people who stay in the same job for their entire career report real boredom with the job in the last 5-10 years.

However, many people who are either laid off, or jumped before they were, later report that they are pleased that it happened, because their new job was better and paid more.

Accepting your fate allows you to stop worrying and begin finding solutions.

About the author:

For the past nine years, Ruth Haag has been training managers and employees to understand the dynamics of the work environment and smoothly work within it. She is the President/CEO of Haag Environmental Company. She has written a-four book series for supervisors: Taming Your Inner Supervisor, Day to Day Supervising , Hiring and Firing and Why Projects Fail. Visit her online at

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