Saturday, October 15, 2011

Show, not tell.

Yesterday I read another chapter in Seth Godin's Linchpin.  This was about the pain of being mediocre.  Although Godin has argued that many employers are looking for employees who are inexpensive, reliable and present, people who don't stand out, employees who follow the rules and end up merely mediocre, he goes on to look at this from the point of view of the employee.  When you are just a cheap drone that can be replaced and disrespected, he says, then there is little job satisfaction.  He writes about how "finding security in mediocrity is an exhausting process."  When you fit in, you can always be replaced by countless others who will also fit in.  Fitting in is no guarantee of security, especially if you are fitting into a company run by people "indulging their egos by hiring people dumber than they are."  Of course, in such a company being smarter than them is certainly not going to lead to job security either, so really you are in a no-win situation if you are working in an organisation where knowledge and experience are seen as threats.

In the second half of this chapter Godin writes about what is needed today to find a rewarding job.  He says you need more than a resume:  "Great jobs, world-class jobs, jobs people kill for - those jobs don't get filled by people emailing in resumes."  Nowadays you need "to show, not tell.  Projects are the new resumes ...  You are not your resume, you are your work".  Reflecting on this I'm thinking about how teachers today who are looking to work in great schools often need a professional blog or a class blog - a sort of ePortfolio of what he or she has achieved and of what he or she is thinking as a teacher.  I'm thinking that a traditional resume, or a half hour interview probably don't give a very good idea of someone's 21st century skills - or how that teacher is developing those skills in his or her students.

I was really interested to read the survey of 20,000 creative professionals who were asked what motivates them.  The top 5 answers were:

  • challenge and responsibility
  • flexibility
  • a stable work environment
  • money
  • professional development
Clearly the environment you work in and the values that people bring to their work are what motivates them to do well.  Money, as I've written about before after reading Daniel Pink's book Drive, is an extrinsic motivator and often doesn't lead to better work.  Most people would be happy to work for less money in an atmosphere that was more positive, challenging and where they were respected.  The final paragraph of this chapter sums this all up nicely:
If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you'll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job.  This is the one and only decision you get to make.  You get to choose.  You can work for a company that wants indispensable people, or you can work for a company that works to avoid them.

Photo credit:  Some people are such followers by Nina Matthews Attribution 

1 comment:

  1. Some great points made in the post. Had I been motivated by money, I would have chosen a different career but teaching was the wish.

    I have taught in schools where I've felt supported as I introduced new technology, even when the senior staff didn't at first understand. The reward was some innovative activities and tech for classes to use.

    I have also been in a school where innovation seemed restricted to the idea of rehashing what was already proven. Change in the way things were done was viewed with suspicion and needed to be shown to work before it could be employed.

    When supported, I was able to...

    ...introduce computers into schools in the 1980s.

    ...use the internet on schools in the late 80s (Although I had to pay the $5 per hour fee at first to allay fears of huge phone bills).

    ...develop the first school computer network

    ...introduce digital photography

    ...provide after school computer groups as a fund raiser to buy equipment.

    and others.

    When not supported by senior staff, the intrinsic motivation kicked in to full strength. I was rewarded by the support of teachers I helped, my students, and the parents who saw the benefit.

    I know where I enjoyed school most, and where I felt less valued. The listed final paragraph in this post is very well said. I know which type of company I would choose.

    Ross Mannell (teacher)
    NSW, Australia