How To Keep Working Currency In The Black

Working Currency Concept

Through my time working with BlogPrefect.com I started having ideas about self-help. I’ve read a few self-help books in my time, sometimes you don’t want to share your ills with a shrink, friend, family or stranger. Often it comes down to pride and a perception of weakness (which further explored might indicate an inferiority complex).

We live far more complex lives in the modern age than we used to, even if we are flat broke. Life is still fairly simple in the poorer parts of the world and some studies have indicated that the simpler life, despite being hard is more fulfilling overall with rates of happiness being higher for those with a bit less.

Working Currency is something that everybody has in common. As I will go onto explain, the value of your own currency varies over time and how you conduct yourself in your job or career.

As part of developing an eBook on some self-help, I am floating this article to better visualise this on-screen. I am most likely going to have to clean these ideas up and tweak the flow, possibly I might have to go into some of these shorter headings in more detail but this is my first bite of the cherry.

Working Currency

What are some of the complexities?

Routine Payment

In the Western world and developed countries in the East, ownership and responsibility drive a lot of complexity. We are expected to manage finance and assets and perform a lot of work to make sure we are insured and have savings for later life. Banks and financial services to a great extent have passed responsibility of the complex minutiae to the customer. That’s you and me.

House renting and ownership are a big drain in terms of our “Direction”. Why? You become locked into routine payment. Renting is an expensive draw from your monthly income whilst some mortgages can be equally painful in the beginning. If compared to our more nomadic heritage, being pinned down is costly.

Pensions and insurance are difficult payments. This is why advertisers of insurance have a difficult job. Pensions and insurance are a good idea and once you come to draw out a pension, it can be very important, insurance claims equally so. The issue is that if you don’t survive to your pension, the money you tucked away could have no benefit to you. With an insurance policy if you never claim, you’ve burnt money. Now, I’m not encouraging you not to pay out for these provisions, I’m just highlighting the complexity of these decisions and underlining the fact that you are performing habitual payments for protection.

Ambition

Ambition is a drive for a large proportion of individuals. Wanting to take your job higher is noble but it’s quite possible in the modern setting that unless you are well networked, have a face that fits, have a rare skill and rare experience that you will not receive the work you covet. Fairness doesn’t fit into the equation and school yard rules apply in the job market.

Ambition has led to over qualification in many and frustration in others. In Britain, a large proportion of University graduates enter working life through establishments like McDonald’s. That is not to cast any dispersion on McDonald’s but just to say that ultimate expectations are much higher than they used to be.

Demand is also greater at a time where the computer age has whittled down the total number of work force required. In many developed countries (with exception to those who still produce) the focus on service industries due to the decimation of primary industries (mining and manufacture) has highlighted many people who don’t fit in good criteria. There are many people to work in jobs that don’t suit their skill sets or capabilities.

So how does this all relate to Working Currency?

There are a number of old thoughts on work that are no longer valid.

Jobs for life

The 20th century spelled the end for this concept. There are still those who try to work to this in the hopes that they can hang on. Your only likelihood of a job for life is a family business and even those can be subject to market instability. Moving jobs is quite normal now.

Loyalty

The focus of your working life has become a whole lot more selfish now that corporations and capitalism drive results more than being good to each other. You are a replaceable component and if the organisation can work without you or outsource you they will. Management and shareholders are the organ grinder, you are the monkey.

Fair play

This notion no longer holds true. Have you been working in a job for 10 years and hope to get that next position? Think again. You may either be replaced by a bright young thing, an outsider or somebody elevated to the role. One thing you can guarantee is that management always sort out their affairs before anyone else.

Personal development

Simply put this can fail to yield results. You can put down for higher education and other courses and still not see the fruit of your labour.

Take for example, learning a computer language, only of use if you maintain the skill and have commercial experience. If not, you might have to lie on your CV. The truth of the matter is that unless you are going into a job as an apprentice, you need real world experience for certain skills. There are very few vacancies for true “greenhorns” or “noobs”.

Putting in extra

Doesn’t always get you more notice, it may just drive an expectation from those above you.

There was a very famous author named George Orwell who wrote two particularly famous books. One was named “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and the other was a Novella by the name of “Animal Farm”. Animal Farm is a Novella that uses a rich allegory to sum up the struggles that you might face in a dystopian society. One where there is an elite class with a dictator. The character you never want to be is Boxer. Boxer is the most subservient creature but gets pushed to breaking point and literally breaks his back.

Animal Farm

Animal Farm – Artwork by Raul Leon

Giving extra without being valued for it is ill-advised. Many managers will try to use reverse psychology on you when the situation of being expected to do extra without rewards is being discussed. If you aren’t good at the push back then you will suffer with being overburdened.

So if you peel away those kinds of concepts that no longer work, you now see why it is important to maintain what I classify as Working Currency.

What is Working Currency?

It is a slightly intangible way of measuring what value you have to a company. It can be a nondescript value that an HR department tot up when looking at your overall acceptability if you are applying for a new job. It can be the monetary value you hold for a manager beyond just the fiscal cost of your annual, monthly or daily wage.

You can exchange Working Currency for positions internally, be seen in a better light, avoid the axe more readily and carry more weight for pay negotiations. You also are more likely to carry a positive attitude when you move from company to company, are more likely to have people speak highly of you to other companies within the same industry and generally feel more awesome in your working career.

What can affect Working Currency?

I have decided to focus on 8 key areas that raise eyebrows but these are by no means the only affects on Working Currency throughout your working life. Areas that I have not charted but are of concern are Age, Colour and Creed.

1. Been ill for a period?

Illness is risk and unfortunately despite companies appearing understanding and complying with legal regulations, management actually despise your time away. At the end of the day it is costing money they’d rather have spent on you performing your job. So you’ve come out of the other side of that terrible illness. It doesn’t matter. You return with a card marked. Risk.

2. Returned from a secondment?

Secondments are designed generally to get you away from the role you performed before. If you are returning back from a secondment, it means that either you didn’t shine enough in that position or that in some way you suck. Secondments aren’t always created to allow stepping-stones, sometimes they just fill a short-term position that is not needed later on.

3. Not put yourself forwards for positions?

If you’ve not put yourself forward in a long time, you don’t stir the imagination of your managers. The might consider that you have no ambition or that you are happy to follow. As my father has said to me countless times, “you are only as good as you shout.”

Of course on the counter side there may be many reasons why you haven’t applied. There may be sometimes when you have no choice but to apply even though you know 110% you won’t get the position.

4. Had a dip in your work performance?

You might have become disillusioned in your work. It happens. The unfortunate output is that your work performance is going to drop as a result. Work performance can also drop because you aren’t compatible with what you are being asked to do (and what you are asked to do can change over time), or you just lose interest in the same consequences or lack of them.

A lot of dips can come about as results of difficult time at home and they may be linked with your lack of earnings. The ultimate problem is that your employer views you based on how good your last stack of work was, regardless of whether you’ve been performing hard for years. You have to have a good rapport with your manager to be given the opportunity to return to form otherwise you might soon be reviewed or found to be receiving your marching orders.

5. Indicated that you are looking for other jobs?

It is very much going to lead to making your powder wet. That term comes from rifleman back in the age where they needed to load their musket or rifles with gun powder. Keeping your powder dry meant waiting for the last possible moment before you opened the powder bag to load your gun. The ultimate message is not to let on what you are up to. Everything is “fine”. There will be a point where you can’t hide it. Turning up to work in a suit then having time off in the day. Being caught updating your CV during work time. Making suspicious calls or ducking out with your mobile.

6. Studying for a higher level course whilst working?

This indication throws out the notion that you are satisfied. Once again, you are seen as a risk because your time is limited. Your employer may realise that your expectations have changed or will change as a result of inspiration you are subjected to during your study. Higher level courses as a definition would include Degrees and non-work related study that is involved.

7. Change in demeanor?

When you stop being as compliant to situations as you used to be your currency can drop in value. You may reach points in your working life where you feel the level of injustice rising. This is not uncommon. However, if you have a view contrary to another individual and that individual is a power player, this can dent you.

Say something stupid once and people will never forget. It does not mean that what you are saying is wrong, just that its ill-advised to say it, for some people the burden is too great to bear. Even the most stalwart characters will buckle if enough pressure is applied. Staying too long can exacerbate that issue.

Don’t forget Judas!

There is the Judas issue to be aware of. Judas Iscariot was the guy who got Jesus killed, simply put. You may be happily charting along oblivious to the fact that someone who pretends to be your bud on the surface will actually totally sell you out when it is most advantageous to their own Working Currency. They’ll be knocking on Caesar’s door sooner than you can say boo to a goose.

As I mentioned above, the Playground Rules apply to jobs and careers. Watch out if you become a threat.

Or Brutus (Bruté)

Of course, if you are the kind of person who dishes the pain in the workplace, expect those colleagues in numbers to swiftly remove you if the time calls for it. If your acts go beyond reproach the wrong people will notice.

Brutus was a prime Roman, large and in charge, with only Caesar above him, he had no specific axe to grind with the chief but his mind was changed by those around him. In the famous William Shakespeare play “The tragedy of Julius Caesar”, based on true history, Brutus is convinced to join a group to eliminate Caesar in a plot hatched by Cassius and conducted by a group of Romans working on their own personal interest. Brutus and Cassius later die in acts of suicide.

What this means for you is watch out for your allies as well as your enemies.

8. All the King’s Men Syndrome

Currency can be uniquely affected by the management staple in your organisation. I call this the All the King’s Men Syndrome (but obviously if you work in a female Orientated environment, All the Queen’s Women). The syndrome is so named because you normally have a regent and his/her choice courtiers.

Managers are creatures of habit, they often cling to those who do them a good turn. You might find that one big manager is appointed, he cuts out the dead wood and replaces a number of managers below with people he knows. This doesn’t necessarily have to happen in such lofty climbs. You can find this throughout. Clique, Club or Cronyism mentality isn’t new but it can be unfair.

There are some detrimental effects if you become associated with a group who are on the way out. When the King or Queen has gone, the remaining structure may be adjusted to remove certain members of the former establishment. You might face another King or Queen.

Another core problem of the syndrome is that you can be negatively associated with an individual without having any interaction with them.

How do I counter the negative effects of Working Currency?

Like a bank account, your working currency can go into the negative and when you become bankrupt in your currency it is time to change. The best option is to change jobs. You get a reset with a job change which can lever you out of a number of negative situations that revolve around being in a place for too long.

Your working currency will be valued greater during the golden period of the restart. I define that golden period to be around 2 – 3 years but if you really struggle with the new job you probably only have 1 at best. I mentioned above that you can’t consider a job is for life. Therefore, if you are still 10 years prior to your retirement age, you should consider changing it up every 2 – 4 years to renew your currency. Some people have 5 year plans and often you get asked about such a plan in an interview. Staying happy is about shortening your horizons in your stepping-stones to success.

To conclude

All of the ideas explored above tie back into the Comfortable-Uncomfortable. It’s the state you get in when you accept something you are not happy with for a long period. If you’ve over stayed your leaving point, you should consider pushing the button before you make more negative and indelible stains on your career.

Easier said than done right. Finding new jobs can be difficult for even the most prepared. It’s akin to opening the furnace door. You have to approach this in a work like manner and take rejection on the chin. If you fail in your strategy a number of times, you might have to sweeten the deal someway or somehow. Such ideas include:-

  • Perform some unpaid but witnessed events.
  • Stretch yourself and get creative.
  • Drive a bit more activity into your personal life.
  • Get organised

A Request From You

Dear valued reader,

A share or comment would be greatly received but more importantly, if you feel affected in any way by the content of this article, I’d like to hear from you. If you don’t agree with areas then I’d also like to hear from you.

I am developing these topics as part of a book I am writing and would like to include real life examples from experience other than just my own.

The beginning of this topic started in an article I wrote some time ago. I am looking to expand this going forwards.

You can contact me through my contact page, direct to headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com or via twitter @blogprefect.

If you’d like a hand in steering someone off course from the rocks of despair then here’s your chance!

Best wishes to you!

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