The human cost of outsourcing
There is no better reason for a corporation to exist than to make a profit, and most small businesses have similar mindsets. Whatever helps to achieve this goal is considered good business, and completely justified to shareholders, boards of directors and business owners.
In today’s business world, corporations and companies often restructure and change activities for many valid reasons including changing market trends, a weak economy, budgetary constraints or offshore competition. The result, while possibly improving the bottom line, often means that some employees are expendable.
For example, a friend of mine was recently told that his department of 22 people would be outsourced to an outside contractor. The multinational was restructuring and he and his colleagues were forced to seek other employment.
He was shattered. When we met, he said: “I admit that over the years I wrongly concluded that I was indispensable to the company. I innocently believed that my work would count for something and that my professional life would never be subject to change”.
Think like an athlete and become a free agent
Although individuals cannot hope to change a corporate decision, they can change their own reaction to entering the job market.
Most of us want to live a happy life, earn a good living, pay our rent or mortgage, have a family and be able to support it without stress. We want to enjoy regular vacations, be loved and love others in return, feel safe and stay healthy, have some money in the bank and afford to treat ourselves once in a while. While wanting all this, most of us instinctively believe that we can only do this if we work for someone else.
In response to this mindset, author Daniel Pink said in his book The Free Agent Nation that, as business becomes more and more subject to uncontrollable market forces, individuals need to become more independent and self-managed.
The Free Agent concept (based on the sports world) has since become a movement of more than 30 million people throughout the U.S.
Individuals should think of themselves as persons with unique assets and abilities, with very specific knowledge and personal experience, the owners of an exclusive circle of relationships and contacts, and a mixture of expertise and education that nobody else has. We need to think of ourselves as independent individuals who “temporarily lend their unique expertise and knowledge to an employer” in the job market in exchange for a salary and other benefits.
To know what we can offer, we must first know ourselves
Rudyard Kipling, the famous author of The Jungle Book and The Elephant’s Child, wrote about the six essential questions that, when answered, will always help us in every facet of our lives:
I Keep six honest serving-men:
(they taught me all I know …)
their names are What and Where and When
and How and Why and Who
As part of an honest self-assessment, asking ourselves these timeless questions can help to better change our self-image and improve our attitude.
Even if we are not in danger of being sidelined, the mere fact of accepting that we are unique and independent can be liberating and subtly change the way we look at our work.
Amazingly, it has been proven that exuding this new attitude also changes the way we are evaluated by others.
Follow my friend’s 5 steps towards practical results
My friend Fred decided to change his self-image by redefining his abilities and talents. He also followed these 5 steps, which can help you in a similar situation as well.
- Review your transferable skills
- Update your CV
- Start networking in organizations in your field
- Register with job search agencies
- Signed up to obtain certification in your field
Two weeks ago, he was called to a third interview with a new company and is now convinced that his success is entirely due to the new self-assured attitude he now exudes.
With the same mindset and these steps in mind, I hope you’ll have the same results if you’re in a similar situation.