Give-to-Get in the Protean Workplace!

by Laura Labovich on November 1, 2010

Today, I am incredibly proud to participate in Job Action Day 2010! This year’s theme is about “Creating Opportunity” by creatively devising tactics to address employer needs, stand out in the sea of candidates, becoming more future-focused and emerge from this unprecedented employment situation better, stronger, and happier.  Jay Block profoundly calls our current workplace Protean and says “The ‘Protean’ workplace is the only viable solution to the transformational shift away from employers taking care of employees, to employees taking care of themselves.” He says that “The ‘Protean’ workplace is the only viable solution to the transformational shift away from employers taking care of employees, to employees taking care of themselves.”

I’m struck by the importance of this statement: “employees taking care of themselves.”  It is daunting, overwhelming even, to think about how our career is all about how well we survive, network with others, market ourselves, influence employers to hire us. I’d like to add that this happens, to a large degree, much faster to folks who take care of others before they consider taking care of themselves.

The more folks I meet in transition, the less surprised I am by the ones who land a job the fastest. One job seeker, in particular, visited my job club on a regular basis and, while others were sharing stories of the never ending interview process or the job they didn’t get called back for, he chose his words carefully. When he did speak, it was to offer suggestions, advice, leads, wisdom and, perhaps more importantly, positive energy. At the end of the meetings, HE always had a line of members waiting to speak with him, shake his hand, ask for his business (networking) card, and thank him (yes, thank him)!  But, why did others seek him out? I suspect that his “popularity” was directly correlated to his desire to help others. His job search was not about him; it was about helping others get what they needed. He was generous; always thinking about how he could help the others in the group. And, it paid off. Fast.

In fact, since he found a great job, he continues to send emails about inspiring articles, information on events of interest, and referrals. I can guarantee you, if I ever needed to hire someone into an HR role, he would be the first person I’d seek out.

Everyone from Dale Carnegie, Keith Ferrazzi and my personal favorites Lynne Waymon and Anne Baber from Contacts Count, espouse the importance of taking care of others; giving more than you take without keeping score. In this new economy, it’s about relationships; making them meaningful, relevant, and not one-sided. The extent to which we can do that will determine our success in this Protean workplace.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Career Sherpa November 1, 2010 at 10:12 am

I love the example you’ve given to support give to get! People are more attracted to those who want to help and are “other-focused”.

Become known as a resourceful giver and reap the rewards, now and in the future. It is a gift that keeps on giving.


Ron Tedwater November 13, 2010 at 10:35 am

Really nice post,thank you


darts November 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Awesome blog , thanks for the post!


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