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Performance – The New Reality of Todays Job Market

Updated on August 29, 2013

Performance – The New Reality of Todays Job Market

Performance – The New Reality of Todays Job Market

By Simone Sander

Last week I had the pleasure of viewing Ashton Kutcher’s new movie, “Jobs” and was highly entertained by his portrayal of Steve Jobs’ personality. As a business owner who was obviously irritated by anyone’s lack of tenaciousness less than his own, Steve Jobs made it very clear to all associated with him that failure was not an option. Immediate and hostile release of employees who disputed him or failed to comply with his requests was commonplace at Apple. Was the fear he instilled inappropriate, or was this part of the key to the success of Apple both times Steve Jobs was in power?

As a former Vice President, I had the pleasure of managing “Generation Y” employees. I struggled to blend my “Steve Jobs management style” with my Ipod-wearing, constantly-texting employees. Asking them to redirect their writing skills to billable work fell upon deaf ears. Hostility followed when I then implemented a “no ear bud” policy. I struggled to achieve accountability, unable to pull most employees from social media, texting, or cell phone usage. Their end product was not even a close reflection of the 40 hour weekly salary they negotiated and I regretted those salaries. The days of the 15 minute breaks were obviously long gone and with this came a new sense of entitlement that I was unable to understand.

It is debatable when the actual decline of the economy began, but the result has created an employer’s job market, followed by an increase in small business owners. Many are close to retirement age and are unwilling to work for the few available, low-wage positions. Currently the SBA is working hand in hand with the AARP to assist these new business owners in becoming competitive in today’s market. With tools like networking events and social networking sites like LinkedIn, small business owners can search for other small business teaming partners, create a team of qualified consultants, and market themselves as a package deal to prospective clients. This trend is growing rapidly in the federal arena, where the government sets aside contracts, particularly for small business and minority contractors. Recently, Corpus Christi, TX held the B.I.G. Event, where small business owners could get informed, network, and make connections with potential teaming partners. This was just one of the many resources that are funded by the U.S. government and available in Corpus Christi, Texas through the Small Business Development Center.

If the trend continues with the growth of small business owners, how will the “Generation Y” employee fit into the picture? Websites are available for small business owners to use in locating the right consultant for a small temporary project. For example, those searching for website or graphic designers are now advertising their willingness to pay a set price for a product or service instead of an hourly rate. This allows the contractor to get the final product he desires for the price tag he is willing to pay and allows the “Generation Y” consultant to interrupt his work with texts, calls, or internet surfing as many times as he wishes, suffering his own loss of hourly income if the interruptions are not limited. Non-performers will be squeezed out of the job market quickly, unable to make the wages they desire.

I now return to the fear that Steve Jobs instilled in his employees. How different is this fear from the fear that the small business owners feel every day, struggling to provide a product or service in line with the low profit margins, resulting from a poor economy and competitors slashing their profit margins just to make the next payroll? How will this new generation of small business owners profit through employing “Gen Y’ers”? In response to my online comments about the new Steve Jobs movie, a business owner on LinkedIn recently stated, "Performance is the new reality no matter how politically incorrect it appears to be. Since I'm the one whose name is on the check, I get to objectively decide who is worth my investment."

Due partly to the increasing use of internet resources, in the past years we have moved away from the generation that sought job security with large companies, working for them year after year for a small yearly raise and a commemorative pen. The SBA reports - “While corporate America has been "downsizing", the rate of small business "start-ups" has grown, and the rate for small business failures has declined.”

We are moving now into a new age of consultants, working together with others that we trust to perform well, developing long term relationships with those who help us to succeed, and distancing ourselves from those who fail us. We are entering another age of accountability, where small business owners will have to be accountable - but to themselves and not Steve Jobs. Anyway that you slice it, the end result is the same. If you don’t perform, you will be asked to just “Get Out”.

© 2013 Simone Sander

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