I have found myself giving the following piece of career advice quite frequently lately, “Remember who signs your paychecks.”
We all want to be respected for our abilities, thoughts and ideas. I believe that, in the best workplaces, people are allowed to do their jobs with at least a bit of latitude, as most jobs can be done effectively in more ways than one. In the plethora of business books of the last decade, there are quite a few that advocate convincing employees to feel like they have “ownership” in the business.
My view is that attitude only goes so far.
Unless you are truly a shareholder, you’re occupying a space that another person can hold tomorrow. Let’s face it – our bosses all have their sore spots. They all have certain areas they will latch onto like a dog with a bone and they won’t let go. When you decide to take a stand on something – whether it is how to correctly calculate an average, or what items to complete on a “to do” list – take into consideration what the person signing your paycheck wants. In most cases, you’ll find what you think you feel so strongly most likely doesn’t matter all that much compared to continuing to receive a paycheck.
Pride gets in our way.
We all want to be experts in our jobs. Some of us want to be experts in our fields. At times, that combination can swirl into a concoction that is potentially explosive. We can harness this energy. We can channel it into a different area of our job, an area without as much scrutiny.
Or we can decide it’s not worth it and strike out on our own, becoming the boss. To be clear, I am not advocating ignoring illegal activities, or participating in them. I’m calling out the small stuff. Things don’t seem small in the moment, do with a bit of perspective.
I love my job. I can’t imagine working anywhere else at this point in time. However, I do have days when I have to remind myself I am never going to win “this” particular argument with my boss. On those days, I remember who signs my paycheck and I back down – gracefully, I hope (I’m still working on that part).
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