Saturday 27 January 2018

#426 Human resources

When I'd met up with friends over Christmas, a good proportion of them were unhappy at work in some way. While many of them were temporarily busy, one was particularly fed up. I met with that person this evening.

For a couple of hours, I listened and made notes on the individual's predicament, skills and areas of interest. I don't recall offering any real insights. Similarly, there didn't seem to be any surprising realisations from the other side of the table but that was fine. Surprises weren't what we were there for.

When people start to consider a change of direction, there can sometimes be an expectation of fantasy or romanticism about the process. Maybe that does happen to some people. The type who catapult themselves from one adventure to another. Those who're almost always excited about something. Or distraught about something else. For others, daily life is about as adventurous as drinking soup and changing jobs is about as thrilling as fixing a broken vacuum cleaner.

Significant career changes fueled by discontent were another matter though and were always interesting. At least I thought so. In any case enjoyed the evening, mostly because I got to listen and write, which were two of my favourite activities. My friend seemed to find it useful too. Maybe.

As soon as I got home, I typed up the notes I'd made and emailed them to my friend. I used to love doing that at work. I'd have a meeting and the attendees would usually receive a comprehensive account of it, complete with any actions within a couple of hours. Maybe that's why I got so excited. I hadn't been to a real business meeting in over a year. Except that one time at Freshfields.

My friend had attended one of the best schools in the country and had made it to the top of the department in a highly technical area at a global company through years of hard work. Now, through what can only be described as professional neglect, my friend was miserable. Alienated and demotivated. A victim of a bottom-line culture that saw some individuals as little more than a figure on a report. One that might not be on the report much longer.

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