Going through my emails a week ago, I heard from my good friend, Pat. He was pretty shaken up, and when I asked him why, he told me this story:
“I just had a guy crying on my shoulder. He lost his job over 2 years ago. His home and savings went soon after. He sees no prospects. He indicated he would consider suicide if he still had life insurance to leave behind. He just got caught shoplifting for food for his family. He had been doing it for a while. The pain and stress he exhibited shook me to my core.”
This is an intelligent, skilled man who made one mistake. He felt that his job was a job he would keep for life. What he didn’t count on was this economy, or his company’s inability to survive it.
This isn’t an unusual situation, and this troubling profile provides us with a harsh lesson to learn. The individual Pat speaks of is in his 50’s and was in a midlevel management position. We can save the argument about experience not being valued as it should be for another time; the real problem is this individual had no back-up plan.
When Pat brought this issue to me, it was so depressing that I asked him to go further. I asked him to think beyond what the problem is, and tell me what solutions he could offer. He nailed it and sent me these ideas:
- First and foremost – get off your duff. Start thinking about this issue. It is too easy to become complacent in a long term employment situation. Just because your boss loves you, and you have seniority, does not mean it could not all be gone tomorrow.
- Read. There are a lot of books, articles and internet resources that can keep you informed and up to date regarding trends and technology.
- Develop an alternative stream of income. There are tons of internet sites trying to attract people to their business. Be cautious and realistic as you investigate the options.
- Start a part time career, or freelance. Even if you don’t worry about making any real income, this “easing into” approach can give you a head start if the worst should happen.
- Learn to use LinkedIn, Facebook and any other social and business networking service. The more contacts you have now, the better off you will be in the future.
- Develop new skills, or refresh the ones you have. Again, this is a complacency issue. If you remain complacent at work, you increase the risk of becoming obsolete in your job.
Pat’s words may come across as a bit grim, but his intent is to provide a wake-up call. The problem is real, but so are his solutions. Coincidently, I just finished my sixth live auction this past Saturday. I’m really enjoying getting off my duff, reading up on auctioneering, developing an alternative stream of income, starting a part-time career, using social media to promote it, and developing new skills as a live auctioneer. (Feel free to contact me if you or your organization is looking for a great auctioneer!) Thanks Pat.