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.
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.