Employee Of The 21st Century

It is fair to say that the job market has dramatically changed in the last 20 years. The job search process has changed, the interview process has changed and so have resume styles. Most importantly, what we have to keep in mind is the fact that employers’ and hiring managers’ expectations of what they are looking for in an ideal employee has changed dramatically.

What used to be highly valued and rewarded in a good employee back in the 80s and 90s, was company loyalty, years of experience, hard work and ability to do the job well. Things have changed in that area, quite a bit. Now it is almost expected of a typical employee to stay in one job anywhere between 2 and 5 years. In fact, I have even heard someone say that they don’t trust anyone who has stayed in the same position for more than 5 years. Employees are expected to be responsible for their professional growth and are encouraged to move on when they no longer feel like their company is providing them with sufficient growth opportunities. What is really valued in your experience is variety and diversity of your background rather than how long you managed to stay at one particular company.

That being said, what is now valued the most in an employee by a progressive company? The answer is leadership. Companies want their employees to be leaders rather than followers. They want you to be a proactive decision maker, someone who is able to see the big picture, understand the goals and challenges of the company on a global scale and see yourself as a contributor, as well as someone who is making a difference on that global scale. Not just someone who is doing his or her job.

Many of you are familiar with Amazon Leadership Principles, which presented the new employee model, the model that describes the employee of the 21stcentury, introducing each employee as a leader. Amazon may be the first company to introduce this new model, but many progressive companies today are adopting it, because it works. They may not follow the precise model of Amazon Leadership Principles, but they certainly have their own version of it that works for them.

One of the biggest leadership principles that speaks to me the most is ownership. What it means to me is that each person in a team takes on the ownership and responsibility for the entire project, rather than the part they were assigned to. Each person on the team is aware of the situation, the goals and the challenges of this project and is contributing their expertise, their creativity and their personal input.  In other words, each person on the team is responsible for the project and each person is fully aware of their contribution and the difference they made.

It is not easy for many employees to think of themselves as someone who has made a difference because for many years we were programmed not to think that way. We were programmed to believe that were we just doing our job and therefore it was hard for us to see our contribution on a bigger scale. It is so easy to see yourself as someone who is simply putting one brick on top of another. Sometimes it helps to step back and see the cathedral you’re building.

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