Disclaimer: While the title states women, this advice is just as important for men.
I have some bad news. More than likely, your job existed before you and, just as likely, it will exist after you.
As author, Shaunti Feldhahn explains in her book, For Women Only in the Workplace: What You Need to Know About How Men Think at Work, a job holder is the temporary holder and custodian of a position.
The job, position, title and everything that goes along with it, “exists independent of the person and will be there after they leave,” she writes.
That’s a pretty heavy statement. You know you are more than just a cog or a square peg and that you bring certain talents, perspectives and qualities to a position that are exclusively unique to you, but none of that matters to the company as an entity.
Think of it this way, separate the people you work with from the company. The company is cold and only cares about the bottom line. The company sees things in black and white. You are helping the company or hurting the company. The company expects you to do what is best for the company and not for yourself. Your job is to make money for the company.
“If you’ve got a role [position, title], you’ve got to play the role, like a doctor has to remove a tumor or a dentist has to pull a tooth,” explains one of Feldhahn’s interview subjects. “The dentist undoubtedly cares about the person whose tooth is failing. The doctor cares about the person whose tumor needs to be removed. But they do not let their concern for the person overshadow their responsibility.”
Feldhahn uses this example in the book (on page 35), it typically took 25 hours to investigate and file a report. At company A where she was a salary employee, that didn’t matter. At company B where she was an hourly employee, her new boss told her she needed to cut down on her hours. To which she replied, “If I am going to do it right, it will take at least 25 hours.”
Finally her new boss at Company B explained, I’ve bid 17 hours for this project. That is all the client will pay me, no matter how much time you take. I’m going to lose money employing you. You might think what you’re doing can’t be done in under 25 hours, but I’m asking you to do a different kind of report, the 17 hour version.
The take away? If your consistently cost your company money (remember time also is money) your job will go to someone else.