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Archive: Does your company respect your work? — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

September 29th, 2013 Comments off

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When talking with Career Opportunities readers and listeners, I regularly hear stories of how a particular company does, or does not, provide the basic necessities for success. Some workers are left without an office or even a cubicle to call their own. Companies refuse to buy needed hardware or software and yet workers are still required to hold the infrastructure of the company together or risk bad performance reviews or worse. Training is poor, erratic or non-existent. The fact is, each of these issues, and countless others, clearly indicates how much your company and your management respects and values your work. Lack of respect for your work isn’t just business as usual, it is a fundamental flaw that effects everything you do.

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Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

How does this lack of respect manifest itself in the average company? There are many ways.

• Does your company help you to accomplish your work or are they constantly placing roadblocks in your path?

You would think that most companies want you to succeed in your work, but their actions often prove otherwise. Out of ignorance, political infighting or mis-management, you might feel that you are struggling against everyone, even those in your own company. Of course, this is counter-productive and hurts everyone involved, but some people seem intent on pushing their own agenda at the expense of the company as a whole. It is almost impossible for you to succeed in such an environment. Productivity is difficult enough without fighting against those that should be helping. Companies that respect your work and your abilities will have no tolerance for situations such as this.

• Is your position seen as a “necessary evil” or an important part of the company’s structure?

This problem is especially prevalent among IT workers. Too often, computer professionals bring out the worst in other employees and managers. They are seen as a drain on resources, a liability to be minimized and not an asset to be used to allow greater productivity for the entire company. IT workers often feel tolerated, rather than respected. Every request of hardware or software is faced with a suspicious eye and a reluctant checkbook. IT workers are seen as dispensable, interchangeable, and unworthy of raises or promotions.

• Does your company refuse to reward you for your work, even when you go above and beyond the call of duty?

A company’s lack of respect can become very clear in this situation. If you aren’t recognized and rewarded for your exceptional efforts, chances are your common, everyday productivity is valued even less. Exceptional work should be recognized with exceptional rewards. If your company sees your efforts as simply part of the job, they are saying, through their actions, that your work was “no big deal.” To be dismissed in this fashion is sure to curb the efforts of any worker. When it happens repeatedly, companies are sowing the seeds of their own failure.

• Does your company plead poverty at performance review time?

We have all experienced it. We receive a glowing review (which shows a certain respect for our work), but then we are offered only a small raise in pay, or none at all. Companies that respect your work will reward you in more than words. Frankly, the fact that a company didn’t have a good quarter is not really your problem. Your work is not worth less simply because the company did not have a successful quarter. In fact, it may have been your work that made the quarter as successful as it was. Again, if your work was exceptional, it should be rewarded. Pleading poverty, especially in this era of outrageous executive salaries, is simply ridiculous. If your company won’t reward exceptional work, then find one that will.

Some of you might be thinking, “What is the big deal if a company doesn’t respect your work, as long as they pay you?” The fact is, your career will stall and your self-esteem will plummet, making it even more difficult to continue building your career. You might even begin to lose respect in your work yourself. The small, day-to-day, disrespect can lead us down the road to stagnation and failure, if we allow companies to disrespect our work. Recognize your company’s actions for what they are. If they do not show respect for your work, in words, actions and money, they do not deserve the benefits of your labor.

***

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Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – September 24, 2013

September 24th, 2013 Comments off

Jobs offered

Job Openings from Tuesdays with Transitioners

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell, organizer of Tuesdays with Transitioners posted these job listings recently. Join Tuesdays with Transitioners Meetup group to receive these job listings directly via Meetup.com and email.

Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – September 24, 2013

  • Retail Specialist, CorePower Yoga (Los Angeles)
  • Production Assistant
  • Proofreader
  • ARTKIVE is hiring
  • Digital Account Executive
  • Advertising/Branding professional needed
  • Executive Assistant for PR Firm
  • Director of Technology (Los Angeles)
  • JDE Functional Analyst–Distribution (Los Angeles)
  • Dropbox is hiring!

Link to Tuesdays with Transitioners for details on all these positions and past listings

** Find more jobs on the Career Opportunities Job Board from SimplyHired.com

JDE Functional Analyst–Distribution (Los Angeles)

Career Tip #82: Focus on building your career…

September 23rd, 2013 Comments off

[Career Tip 82] Focus on building your career and you won’t have to worry about building your resume. Create real change, then document it in resume.

Career tip 082

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Archive: Playing “the enforcer” could put your career at risk

September 20th, 2013 Comments off

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In the typical corporation, you will find many people whose main role is that of “The Enforcer.” Project managers who enforce project timelines, human resource staffers who enforce work policies, union representatives who enforce labor agreements and even IT workers who enforce company standards, approved hardware, software and password policies. While, in most cases, all of these items need policing and enforcing, playing the role of the enforcer could be damaging to your career as a whole.

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Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

It is a sad truth that workers in any sort of enforcement role are almost universally disliked by co-workers beyond their own department. Security staff may respect each other, but the general populous of the company might find them officious or difficult. This is often an unfair characterization, but perception can be as important as reality. If people perceive you as a problem or an impediment, they will treat you as one.

You can easily see that if you are placed in the role of enforcer, in any regard, you run the risk of becoming disliked, and eventually, unwanted at your company. Furthermore, once you start down this path, it is very difficult to reverse.

One of the largest problems with the enforcer role is that there is often substantial disagreement between policies and the operational reality of a company. Being responsible for enforcing unrealistic goals and procedures makes enemies of both those above and below you. Workers will see you as enforcing policies they cannot abide and management will constantly question why its policies aren’t being enforced. Meanwhile, you spend your lunchtimes in lonely thoughts about why everyone hates you.

Being the enforcer has concrete effects on your career, too. As the person in-between, you will be the focus of complaints from above and below. People will actively try to circumvent your enforcement and keep you “out of the loop” on important decisions until it is too late to change them. Finally, being an enforcer leaves you open to the threat of downsizing, layoffs and termination. Face it, if both staff and management are displeased with your work, who are they going to mark for layoff — you or their best friend and co-worker? You have almost nowhere to turn for support. No matter how much you might believe in the importance of your work, if others do not share that view, you are doomed.

So, how do you protect yourself from this unenviable position? First, don’t seek out or accept jobs with a major enforcement role, if at all possible. Once you are in such a position, for even a short period of time, co-workers opinions will quickly form. This is especially true if you are being called in to “clean up” an already bad situation. You cannot imagine the animosity that will face you as you begin.

If you must take on an enforcement role, you must have the complete and unwavering support of your management. They must truly believe in their stated goals, and be willing to deal with conflict, complaints and crises that will result. If not, you will quickly be offered up as a scapegoat to quell the complaints and anger arising from your enforcement actions.

If I were faced with taking on a role like this, I would do everything in my power to include a contractual agreement, which allows me a set amount of time to accomplish the stated goals. This would also include a large bonus, payable on my termination, should management decide to abandon their initiative. Management must support enforcement roles and not be given an easy way out when the complaints begin to flood their email.

No matter how important the role of enforcer might be, for the average worker it is a career minefield. Without continued support from management and understanding from co-workers, enforcers are doomed to be either ineffectual, or too often, unemployed. Avoid the role of enforcer whenever possible and enter into it only with the utmost care and consideration. The continued success of your career depends on it.

***

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Make your own Career Classroom — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

September 16th, 2013 Comments off

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The explosion of educational MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) seems to indicate a large, renewed interest in nontraditional educational opportunities. People are looking for new opportunities to learn when and where they can. While there are a tremendous amount of large MOOCs available, and you should be investigating them, this trend has also sparked my own thinking about smaller, self-directed learning opportunities. You don’t always have to rely on someone else to create your learning opportunities, like traditional schools and universities. You, along with a small group of friends, family, or coworkers can create your own time and place to learn together. In some ways, I think that these smaller groups can help you learn more deeply, in a more intimate learning environment, than any MOOC possibly could.


Now available exclusively to Career Opportunities readers and Listeners.

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What do you want to learn?

Your first task in developing your own Career Classroom is to think deeply about what you want and need to learn. This can literally be anything. Let your thinking roam. I believe that no matter what learning we do outside our jobs, it directly affects our career in some way. How could it not in a world where our lives and careers are so intertwined. Your new learning might be directly applicable to your career, like new computer skills or learning more about business and finance, or it could be supposedly non-business-related education such as art history or learning to play the guitar. Whatever you learn becomes part of you and you can never tell just how you might apply your new knowledge, so don’t limit yourself when thinking about your educational topics.

One of the best reasons for pursuing self-directed education though, is that it’s personalized to you. You get to decide what interests you most and then pursue it. You aren’t beholden to a specific college curriculum, specific topics or specific subject area. You are free to choose what you want and need most. What would you like to learn, if you gave yourself the time and permission to learn it?

Find like-minded people

Once you have your short list of educational topics, start looking for like-minded people to join you on your educational journey. Who do you know that is also interested in similar topics? Who else is looking for a way to expand their life and career? Reach out to everyone around you. You can never tell who secretly might be yearning for a way to learn something new. That quiet co-worker who diligently does their job might want to be the next great novelist. You can never tell, so you have to ask.

Once you have a topic and a small group of people to join you in your virtual career classroom, you will need to develop a plan for how you will learn together. Even though I am a huge believer in the power of technology, I believe that your career classroom should consist of both virtual and face-to-face elements. Use the Internet to share information and discuss the topic but, if you can, reserve an hour a week to meet in person to discuss your topic, too. Of course, this face-to-face time can be handled virtually and online, too. I am finding that Google Hangouts can be an excellent analogue for a face-to-face meeting, if you can’t get together in person.

The reason for this discussion time is that I often find the some of the most important learning happens during conversations rather than just through reading materials or watching presentations. Discussions almost always trigger new questions, new thoughts and, hopefully, new answers to go with them. Even when complete answers are lacking, though, conversations will turn up areas of your topic that require more research and lead even deeper into your subject and your learning.

You might be thinking to yourself, “but how can I learn without a knowledgeable teacher to lead me and give me the information I need?” For me, the best educational experiences come from when I learn something myself rather than having someone simply “download” their knowledge to me. Information in today’s world is much more open and available than any other time in our history. In your Career Classroom, you’ll have a host of information to “teach” yourself and your Career Classroom partners. Instead of having just one teacher, you’ll have, potentially thousands, all available at your fingertips.

Every student a teacher

One important lesson to take away from your self-directed educational adventures is that each person in your group is not only a student, but a teacher as well. I firmly believe that we learn best by teaching others, so that should be an integral part of your career classroom, too. As a matter of course, when another group members comes across an important piece of information on your topic, it is their job to teach it to everyone else in the group. In teaching this information, they will not only share it with you, but learn it even more deeply themselves.

Thinking “big” about your continued career education can be important, but don’t neglect the small, the focused, the personalized education, you can do for yourself and with small groups of friends, family and coworkers. We are often the best judge in knowing what we want and need to learn and focused, self-directed education can be one great way of learning it. Think about what you want and need to learn, then find others who want to learn, too. Together you can support each other on your educational journey and also become both student and teacher as the need arises. I think you’ll find that learning together using these self-directed methods could be a great way of building the career you deserve.

***

Jobs Available – All types of job listings at Jobs.WelchWrite.com – Search by keyword and location

September 16th, 2013 Comments off

Looking for a job? There are a host of job listings available on Jobs.WelchWrite.com every day. Enter the keywords you are searching for and your location to get fresh and focused listings.

Career jobs

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Archive: Have you talked with your manager (or employees) today?

September 14th, 2013 Comments off

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One of the most important parts of any job, whether you are an employee, manager or executive is communication. Without regular communication among all the parts of your company, projects will fail, tasks will go incomplete and business will suffer. Furthermore, as an employee, if you are not communicating with your manager enough to know that you are doing the most critical work of the moment, you risk your job, as well. Have you talked with your manager today? Managers? Have you talked with your employees today? Does everyone know the critical path through this day, this week , the month? If not, why not?

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Two different paths

One of the most common problems in any department, whether high-tech IT or traditional accounting, is employees who don’t know what work they should be doing. If the goals of management are not being adequately communicated to the staffers, then there is almost no hope of accomplishing those goals. Yet, I see this nearly every day in every type of company.

So, what is an employee to do. First, talk to your manager. Talk to them until you have a clear idea what they expect, what goals they need to accomplish and even how they might like to see them accomplished. In some cases, you might have to help your manager put these goals into words. Not every manager is the best communicator, even though they might be very good at their job in other ways. You don’t want to harass your manager, but you do need to make it clear that without direction from them, you might not be focusing on the most critical work of the department. External pressures from other departments, clients and upper-level executives can easily distract you without a clear mandate from your immediate manager.

Confusion from above

Of course, in some cases, your manager might not understand the goals of her position, let alone yours. I am sure you have seen this in departments that seem to drift from one crisis to another, never sure what is most important from day to day. This could be the fault of your immediate manager, but blame can often be laid at the foot of upper management, as well. Just as you need to communicate with your manager, executives need to communicate with their CEO and vice versa. Miscommunication at the top simply filters downward, growing more confused from level to level.

If you are stuck in a company such as this, you might consider starting a new job search. While companies can often blunder along for years without clearly communicated goals, they will eventually fail in some way. Worse still, your work will become much more difficult, since you are always searching for clarity among the fog of management instead of simply doing the work that most needs done.

What to do?

Let us assume that you are blessed with a good manager who clearly understands the task at hand. Set up a meeting with him or her specifically to discuss the goals of the department. Hammer out the top 3 goals and then communicate them to everyone else in the department. Sure, there will be other on-going work that conflicts with these goals, but that simply must be done. You will be able to do them and return to working on the goals again. Once you have established your most important goals, you have somewhere to return your focus, once the crisis has passed, instead of simply moving onto the next crisis.

Most importantly, if either you, you co-coworkers or your manager feel that goals have changed, either due to information from above or a change in circumstances, it is time to meet again and re-evaluate the top 3 goals immediately. You don’t want to be working towards a goal that has been rendered unnecessary. Don’t simply continue out of inertia. Stop, re-evaluate and then go back to work on the important tasks, as you now see them.

Communication, anywhere in the business hierarchy is not simply something you do once and then forget. Companies don’t create one advertisement for their products and then stop. No, you need to communicate every day, every week, every month — however often it is necessary to insure that everyone, from the top to the bottom of the organization knows exactly what they are trying to accomplish, both individually and collectively.

***

7 Skills of the Successful Careerist — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

September 9th, 2013 Comments off

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Looking back over my own long career, and the careers of family, friends and Career Opportunities listeners and readers, I have struck upon 7 Skills that can help to insure a successful career for any careerist, regardless of their work industry, their position in a company or their goals as a careerist. These fundamental skills form a solid foundation for any career and, in many ways, also enhance life outside of your career. In this introduction I will give an overview of of the skills and then explore each one further in its own, upcoming, Career Opportunities column.

 

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The 7 Skills of the Successful Careerist include:

Organization

Organization is the ability to control your life and your work as much as possible, knowing that unforeseen events will always crop up. It means tracking the work you need to do, the progress of that work and the flow of work through your life. While tools like ToDo lists, GTD and Agile processes, and calendars can help you organize, organization is an overall mindset the underpins nearly everything else you do. If you are disorganized, work and life can quickly become much more difficult than they need be.

Communication

Communication, in all its forms — face-to-face, online, written, spoken — is critical to everyone, regardless of your position or type of work. Poor communication skills will hamper any career. In some cases, poor communication limits your impact and ability to grow in your career. In other cases, it may prevent you from having a successful career at all. Do people frequently misunderstand your words, your actions or your intentions? Surely, some people will have their own communication issues, but if miscommunication is a frequent and common thread in your career, you need to look to your own communication skills, or lack thereof, as the possible source any career issues you might face.

Troubleshooting

The ability to logically think through any problems you face — both large and small — can unlock great success in your career. Too many people start flailing wildly when faced with problems, having no rhyme or reason to the way they approach the problem. This is odd when you consider that all of us have been exposed to an excellent tool for troubleshooting during our school years — the scientific method.

  • Develop a question
  • Research the questions
  • Construct a hypothesis
  • Test your hypothesis with an experiement
  • Analyze the results
  • Repeat

Applying the scientific method we all learned to problems large and small, can make you seem a troubleshooting genius. Especially to those who have ignored it or forgotten how to use it.

Empathy

“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another” — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Too few of us, in the heat of our career, remember what it was like to be new, to be scared, to be ignorant, to be young, to be striving, to be a entry level employee. It is almost as if we lock away our past fears and memories so we are no longer trouble by them. Unfortunately, this can lead us to be callous, petty and often, downright mean, to our fellow coworkers and careerists. Lack of empathy can also hamper relations with your customers, your clients and those you depend on for your career. Developing a sense of empathy with those around you isn’t some “soft skill” that only serves the “creatives” in your business. Rather, it is a deeply important skill and trait that can open doors to people hearts and minds and allow you, your message, your product, your work to resonate more deeply with them.

Self-Knowledge

It has been said that one of the most important traits of any person is to “know what you don’t know.” We are all ignorant on so many things, but when we forget that we are ignorant we can make deep and painful mistakes in our careers and lives. Self-Knowledge means not only understanding our own ignorance, but also taking the time to explore our actions, motivations, wanted, needs and desires so that we can better manage them and use them to achieve great things. If we don’t contemplate our own lives and work, we can find ourselves taking actions that actually harm our careers and lead us away from what we truly want. We are surrounded by a myriad of outside forces pushing us in one direction or another. If we don’t deeply think about what we want, though. we risk living someone else’s life instead of the one we truly desire.

Moneywise

If you are not moneywise — at least in the most basic ways — your life and career will be difficult. You don’t need to be a financial wizard or spend all your waking hours thinking about money, but you must know how to develop a budget, how to prevent overextending your credit, how to make the best purchasing decisions and, most importantly, how to be frugal, especially early in your career. Poor money decisions have a way of haunting you for years, if not the rest of your life. Make as few poor decisions as possible early on, and you will ease your path as you grow older. Sure, we all make poor money decisions on occasion, but we should seek to make as few as possible to prevent them damaging our long-term success.

Flexibility to Change

The world has always been filled with change. From the beginnings of civilization to today’s hyperspeed, Internet-driven culture and it has been proven that those most likely to succeed, in life and career, are those that can be flexible in the face of change. This doesn’t mean following every new fad that arises or flitting from one idea to another, but rather bending with the winds of change and finding ways to turn changes to your advantage. Sure, there will be changes we do not like. We may not wish to participate in this change or another, but neither can we ignore change as it comes rushing upon us. We need to recognize that change is omnipresent from moment to moment, day to day, year to year and our lives and careers will need to adapt to that change. To ignore change is to limit yourself, work and your career.

Look for more on these 7 Skills of the Successful Careerists in upcoming Career Opportunities columns.

***

Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – September 9, 2013

September 9th, 2013 Comments off

Jobs offered

Job Openings from Tuesdays with Transitioners

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell, organizer of Tuesdays with Transitioners posted these job listings recently. Join Tuesdays with Transitioners Meetup group to receive these job listings directly via Meetup.com and email.

Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – September 9, 2013

  • Harbor Freight Tools is looking for a Technical Writer/Illustrator (FT/Temp)
  • Help Desk Analyst, Munger, Tolles & Olsen (Downtown LA)
  • Q&A Tester
  • Web Coordinator, Joni and Friends (Calabasas)
  • Employee or Entrepreneur?
  • Legal Technology Trainer (Downtown LA)
  • Front-end web developer (Irvine, CA)
  • Director, Christian Institute on Disability–Joni and Friends (Calabassas)
  • Director of Brand Marketing and Public Relations, Consumer Products–Fox Group
  • Social Media/Web Marketing Manager, Marcus & Milchamp (Walnut Creek-SF area)
  • Senior ERP expert for a Full Time Role in West Los Angeles
  • Full Time Jr. Java Developer for a Burbank Company
  • Systems Engineer for Enterprise Data Warehouse, Business Intelligence and Analytics technologies (Seattle, WA)
  • Sr Release Engineer with .Net/Windows Platform for a contract role in North Los Angeles
  • JDE Business Analyst – Distribution, Fox Group (Los Angeles)
  • MOGL Gaming company has several openings in Finance, IT, and Sales
  • Part-time position (San Fernando Valley)
  • Retail Associate (Beverly Hills)
  • Co-Working Space in the San Fernando Valley
  • Career Resource: Schmoozed

Link to Tuesdays with Transitioners for details on all these positions and past listings

** Find more jobs on the Career Opportunities Job Board from SimplyHired.com

Archive: Is your company evil or stupid? — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

September 6th, 2013 Comments off

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Almost everyone is familiar with Google, Inc.’s famous motto, “Don’t be evil”. That said, how do you feel about the company where you work? Are they being evil or just stupid? Sometimes it can be very difficult to know exactly, but the answer can mean very different results for your career.

First, whenever I am evaluating the actions of any company, or any person for that matter, I always apply the following wisdom from Napoleon, “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” What may look evil initially might just be an example of extreme stupidity or, even more likely, extreme ignorance. While it might seem evil to you, and you can imagine all sorts of evil machinations, it is important to notice the difference. Your response to each of these scenarios is quite different and responding inappropriately could mean more difficulties in your career at the time when you are trying to simplify it.

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Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

The most basic difference between evil and stupid is that I believe it is possible, and easier, to fix stupidity than evil. Even the stupidest companies have the ability to learn and move from stupidity to productivity. It might not be an easy path, but there is a hint of hope there. If you see your company doing something stupid, you can take some small action to correct it, no matter how low your position. You can effect change on stupidity from the ground up. Again, it will be a slow process, but hopefully one that will gain momentum as it grows.
Evil, on the other hand, is pernicious, corrupting and corrosive. One executive, one manager, one co-worker who is engaged in evil, whether that is an individual taking advantage of the company or an entire company taking advantage of its customers, will go to extreme lengths to both hide its evilness and perpetuate it. Whereas stupidity can often lead to illogical thinking, evil can lead companies and people to go completely non-linear. This is what leads to companies like HP believing it is ok to spy on their own employees and attempt to discredit them. Evil eats up a company from the inside and you either join the evil or run from it. There is no way to stay pure while in contact with it.

So, how does this effect your work and your career. Well, it should be fairly obvious. If your company is stupid, there is still hope. You can make changes in even the stupidest companies, if you really believe in their product, service or message. Your decision to remain with the company is based on your belief that you can continue to do good work there, even if there are some problems.
Of course, if your company is evil, then you are also evil…or, at least, on your way to evilness. Every time you reinforce an abusive policy, overcharge a customer, engage in “bait and switch” tactics or whatever other evil behaviors your company exhibits, you, personally are becoming more and more evil. The evil starts to wrap you up in its web. You might think, “Oh, well, its only one customer,” but the proverbial slippery slope is there, waiting to take you into its embrace. It is nearly impossible to avoid the evil when it is all around you. In most cases, the evil stems from the very top of the organization. As the saying goes, “The fish rots from the head down.” If senior executives are engaged in evil behavior then everyone else feels the sting. Ask the employees of Enron how much evil from above can effect their careers and I am sure you will get an earful.

So, in most cases, the best way, and perhaps the only way, of avoiding becoming evil yourself, is to avoid it at all costs. Do all you can to see if your company is evil or stupid, but once you decide it falls on the evil side of the equation, get out. Otherwise, your work and career will suffer. It might not happen today or tomorrow, but evil is repaid in full eventually and you don’t want to be the one cashing that check.

***

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