When an employer is paying you for work you’ve agreed to do in exchange for that income, they’ve got every right to expect you’ll not only actually show up, you’ll also be productive when you’re there. And believe me, there are many people who have a good attendance record but fail to really do much work.
I’m sure you’ve see these people; they might be the kind of people who are lying low, keeping to themselves. They could just as well be the ones who are always walking around, popping in for a chat all around the office; never very long with any one person, but add up all their visits and they waste more time socializing with their colleagues than doing the work they’re paid to do.
Some organizations have productivity targets; ways to measure an employee’s success. They might even go so far as increasing those same quotas and targets if and when an employee reaches those goals. So when you’re new and relatively inexperienced or learning on the job, your targets might be lower than those who have seniority and a wealth of experience. The longer you’re with a company, the more their expectations rise, until you get to the point where you’ve reached what the organization deems your working capacity.
If you’ve ever worked in a commission environment, you’ll understand this model. The sales targets each person has is largely determined based on experience level, with newer employees expected to sell fewer units than well-seasoned workers. If those targets never went up, sales staff would potentially become complacent; never reaching their full potential, and of consequence, the company wouldn’t sell as many products or sell the number of products they’d like. Now while commission sales isn’t for everyone, you get the model. Some people love commission sales; they can determine their own income based on the energy they put out and the more they hustle the more they make.
In many work environments, work isn’t commissioned based. The expectation employer’s have however remains consistent. Come in, do what you’re getting paid to do and at the end of the day, ensure you’ve given your best and repeat this the next day and every day. If and when you’re not working at work; not being as productive as your employer deems is required, you will find your services are no longer required. They may tell you things just aren’t working out; pretty much as saying, “You’re not working out.”
While this can be difficult to hear, sometimes being released from a job where you’re not working out can be a good thing. Without that push out the door, you might not have left voluntarily, and you’d have been trapped for a long time perhaps in a job that was a poor fit for your interests and your skills. Many a person has been fired or let go only to find a much more satisfying job doing something else for another employer. Looking back, many will claim losing their job was the best thing that happened to them; although at the time it wasn’t so great!
So, when you’re at work, be productive. You should know what it is you’re expected to do and you should spend your time doing that work to the best of your ability. If you get to the point where you’re not really being mentally stimulated and this is important to you, you can talk to others in the organization about additional work or relocating to another area. This might be identified as cross-training; learning another job in addition to the first one you’ve mastered. This cross-training makes you more of an asset to the organization because you can be pulled from one job to work in another if and when someone is absent or demand for productivity increases in an area outside of your typical job. It can also help make you an asset worth keeping around if and when layoffs occur.
The one person in the organization – any organization by the way, who knows if you’re not working up to your full capabilities is yourself. Now, we all have a day here and there where our minds are elsewhere; we just can’t focus or work near as hard for some reason and as a result our productivity drops. A day here and there is one thing, but if you find those days are becoming more and more frequent – perhaps to the point of becoming the norm, this is a huge sign to change things up. If you read the signs and do something about the situation before others notice, good for you. But if you ignore the warning signs, you might find yourself brought in for a chat about your performance, put on some kind of probation or at worse, released.
As you’re reading this piece on being more than just present at work, is it speaking to you directly? I mean, do you see yourself being described; not really invested in the work anymore, and spending more energy at work trying to look busy than actually being busy? If so, heed the reason behind the symptoms. In other words, it might be time to move on, ask for additional responsibilities or even a change in work completely but remain with the same employer.
Continuing to miss or waste time at work is a warning sign you can’t afford to ignore.