Creating A Personal Working Philosophy

Let’s suppose you are considering employment with some company or organization. One piece of advice you will get from most Employment Coaches or Counsellors is to do some research and find out what the company’s mission, values and beliefs are. The idea being of course that if you learn about these things, you can best judge if you are a good fit with those three things.

Missions, values and beliefs themselves then lead to development of a philosophy; and that philosophy espouses guiding principles, ways of doing things, behaving, thinking, acting and relating to others. So for example is a company values customer satisfaction or quality of products, the way in which they operate, interact with customers, run their operations and treat fellow employees becomes a guiding philosophy. So if and when they consider designing a new product and are determining how to produce it, they may or may not consider for long the impact on the environment, costs to consumers, whether it will generate income as a first priority or improve quality of lives as a first priority.

A philosophy can be a guiding light for all involved when that philosophy is shared, embedded, and experienced each day as a living, breathing entity rather than just a few words on the wall as the employees arrive each morning. In order to be successful, there must be buy-in from all the employees right from the top to the front line. If this is the case, products and services are delivered with a unified delivery system. In other words, the product was designed with quality in mind, created with care and quality components, packaged with care and in quality containers, transported with care and attention and merchandised with care and attention to the consumer. Consistency at all stages.

This same concept of having a guiding philosophy is one that an individual can, and in my opinion should have when it comes to their employment. If you are fortunate enough in the early stages of your working life to have someone introduce this idea of a personal working philosophy, what it can mean for you is increased chances of finding satisfaction in your employment, because it increases the chances of finding a good match between employer and employee.

Of course in the early going when starting your career, most young people are more concerned with just getting some experience, learning the mechanics of how to do things, and trying to be socially accepted and liked by their peers that the idea of formulating some working philosophy is far too abstract and obscure.

So what would it look like in practical terms? Well for starters, it’s important to know what you yourself value. Is money and it’s growth the bottom line even if it exploits people’s gullibility or does providing service that leaves a person leaving completely satisfied take priority over say, exceeding the expected time you would devote to a single customer? If you really truly value providing exceptional personalized service as the be all and end all, there are some companies where you will thrive, and ironically some very profitable companies where you will not be a good fit.

Once you’ve started to think about some of the things you believe in and value, the next thing to do is keep your eyes open. Watch how people are treated – including yourself – when dealing with representatives of a company. While any one person isn’t a good measure of the entire organization, if you are repeatedly treated a certain way when you interact with a company, it’s a good bet that the way you are treated reflects on the overall philosophy of that company and how they want their staff to interact with the public. Could you see yourself acting similarly to how you’ve been treated and thrive in that way?

Now look at the people around you that you admire. Sure when you were a teenager you put rock stars and athletes on your bedroom walls, but look at the people you meet in everyday life. What qualities do they possess? What principles do they live by? What core beliefs do they hold? Think about all these people and extract from them the things that you believe you yourself might be able and desire to work into your own personal working philosophy.

As you start working, watch, listen and talk to your Supervisor. What do they believe? What’s gone into their thought process with respect to how they treat employees and clients or customers? And of course there will be people who rub you the wrong way, treat others in ways you don’t approve of, and hold thoughts that conflict with your own. These people and the philosophy they collectively hold are important for you to learn from as well.

The benefit of a personal working philosophy is that it literally guides you in your daily work. In the beginning, you may have to consciously stop and say to yourself when presented with a choice to make; “what do I believe in and what’s my philosophy?” However like any other skill, the more you use it, the more embedded it becomes, and the more natural you respond. I’d say it becomes second nature, but it literally becomes your nature, it’s how you are known to be by others.

This branding by others is a reflection of how you’ve branded yourself, working each day, and with everyone you meet, by living your personal working philosophy.

Young People, Old Problems

The problem that some young people are having in getting meaningful work isn’t really new. For years, students coming out of University and Colleges have had the advantage of recent education, youth and exuberance on their sides, but there are some nagging issues facing this age group that if you look back in time, you’ll find are the same issues and barriers that generations have had to deal with in years past.

To start off with, there is the issue of maturity. While young people are trying to convince employers that they are emotionally stable and mentally balanced, committed to employers and can be relied upon, in some cases it was only a short time ago; as little as a few months, when those same young people sitting in front of an interviewer seemingly the picture of maturity beyond their years, were partying four nights or more a week, skipping classes and generally letting loose. What Facebook, MY Space, Instant messaging etc. and other social media have done however is make much of that public sharing of their lives public and unwittingly available to employers. The images they find on-line are believed to be a truer representation of the person than the real-life version sitting in front of them. The reason? At the interview you are portraying for a short period your best behaviour. On Facebook etc., you are at your natural best (or worse).

Another issue that young people face is the sudden demand for them to be up and productively at work at 8:00a.m. or 9:00a.m. Monday to Friday, and to repeat this process again and again. Teens and young people tend to be more night owls by nature and therefore sleep in later in the day. This process fights the world of work that traditionally gets people working early and then hitting the sack at a regular time throughout a week in order to function at work. Then when the weekends hit, there’s also a demand on young people to curtail somewhat that wild life of recent University and College in order that they don’t bring the reputation of their companies to the bars with them.

Now is it fair that the way you act on your own time should somehow reflect on your employer and therefore you be asked to be mindful of this and tone down your party lifestyle? Maybe and maybe not; that’s an ethical question that you can weigh in on. However, the bottom line is that if you want to continue to move up in a company, your advancement will be tied to your reputation for any number of things – and your off-the-clock behaviour DOES impact on your career. Don’t plan on turning the bad behaviour off when it suits you because it can follow you and stick to you and takes a very long time to change your image once you’ve established it.

Now these comments I made are broad-sweeping; they paint an entire age group with the same brush and, well, that’s just not fair or accurate. Sure, I know that, and you should know it too. Neither is every 60-year-old job seeker over the hill and have nothing to offer. But the stereotype is something you may have to overcome with some employers. Good advice is to take a little thought to what might be important to you in a couple of years, and start thinking about what you could do in the here and now to get yourself in a position to take advantage of opportunities you’ll want later.

One problem that comes up with young people entering the world of work is how to get a job with little experience while getting the experience you need to land a job! This valuable experience can be gained by volunteering, joining clubs and groups, developing their networking skills, getting out in the community and learning new skills. All these kind of skills can be supplemented with entry-level work in factories, fast-food restaurants, book stores, clothing stores, discount stores, summer camps for kids, etc. All this allows for those experiences to be the basis for your answers in future interview questions.

Getting experience is what it’s all about. Get what you can, where you can instead of just planning on going from no job to the job of your dreams. That entitlement is a problem that older workers stereotypically have a problem with when dealing with younger people. Knowing that now, might just help you out moving forward.